Former Bellator prospect Rasul Mirzaev has been released from prison amid calls for peace in the face of ethnic tension in Russia. Mirzaev has been imprisoned since turning himself over to Russian authorities after the death of Russian student Ivan Agafonov. The native of Dagestan plead guilty to a lesser charge and was released yesterday.
Mirzaev was arrested last year after an incident outside a night club in Moscow. The 2011 incident started when an intoxicated Agafonov angered Mirzaev after making a pass at his girlfriend. Mirzaev would argue with the larger man before landing a single short punch that knocked Agafonov to the pavement. The Russian student would suffer a head injury, and seemed to recover at the scene, before his health quickly deteriorated and his friends took him to a local hospital. Agafonov would die a few days later.
Mirzaev turned himself in upon hearing of Agafonov’s death.
The case was delayed several times due to legal maneuvering by both sides and has been complicated by rising ethnic tensions between ethnic Russians and citizens of the southern Russian republics. At one point a national incident had to be avoided, as the heads of the Russian Republic and Republic of Dagestan squared off over the Moscow court’s alleged bias against the fighter.
Former WBA heavyweight champion, and newly elected Russian Parliament member, Nikolai Valuev has appealed for calm in the matter. Insisting this is not a cause for action from angry Russian nationalists.
“Hysteria on ethnic grounds around the Mirzaev case has no basis. You shouldn’t fan ethnic hysteria, it’s wrong,” Valuev continued, “Without justifying Rasul Mirzaev in any way, I also remind you that he has fully admitted his guilt and is prepared to bear the punishment the law demands for his deed.”
The “Black Tiger” was once one of the most heralded bantamweight fighters in Russia. With a 2010 Combat SAMBO world title and improving striking, Mirzaev had amassed a 5-0 record that caught the eye of Bellator. The Dagestani fighter had been set to make his promotional debut before the incident but now his MMA future is cloudy at best.