An Armenian mixed martial arts fighter has devoted his recent victory over an Azerbaijani rival in Moscow to Armenian soldiers defending Nagorno Karabakh.
It took Albert Ghazaryan, 23, less than a minute to make Ruslan Muratazov capitulate in a highly politicized bout at the crowded Luzhniki Sport Hall late last week.
The scheduled MMA fight pitting the Armenian against an Azeri was held weeks after a fresh outburst of violence in Karabakh sparked by Azerbaijan’s aggression against the Armenian-administered region in early April.
About a hundred Armenian soldiers were killed and more than 120 were wounded in the worst fighting since the 1994 ceasefire.
In celebrating his success Ghazaryan brought into the ring a Karabakh flag along with the Armenian tricolor.
Later, dressed in a military fatigue and holding a Cup in his hand, Ghazaryan delivered a short speech. “I devote this victory to my Armenian nation, to the Armenian soldiers who stand firm at the posts today, defending our land. I’ll take your pain away,” the Armenian MMA fighter said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
This is not the first time that Armenian athletes devote their successes in sports to Armenian soldiers fighting in Karabakh.
Last month, only days after the end of the four-day war, Armenia’s weightlifters Andranik Karapetyan, Nazik Avdalyan and Hripsime Khurshudyan also dedicated their victories at the European championships to the Armenian military.