UFC’s Nikita Krylov was previously banned from a Ukrainian gym due to his loyalty to Russia

Nikita Krylov, also known as “The Miner,” is currently ranked No.6 in the light heavyweight division, and he’s set to face the No.8-ranked Ryan Spann this weekend. With two straight victories, Krylov aims to extend his winning streak in the Octagon.

Krylov’s first UFC outing back in September 2018 didn’t go as planned, as he was submitted by Jan Blachowicz. However, he’s secured four victories and suffered three losses in the Octagon since then. This bout against Spann marks his first UFC main event.

While most of the MMA community is protesting against the war it’s strange to see a Ukrainian athlete obscure his identity.


Nikita Krylov comes from Krasnyi Luch, a city of miners in the region of Luhansk. Later in his lifehe relocated to the region of Donetsk.

Both Luhansk and Donetsk are situated near the Ukrainian-Russian border and are a part of the Donbas region of Ukraine. Donbas region in particular has been a source of friction among the two nations for years.

Donetsk is a separatist region that does not identify as a part of Ukrainian territory. While internationally recognized as in Ukraine, the city is under the de facto administration of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

“When I see this, I have mixed feelings,” Krylov said regarding conflicts in his hometown some years ago.

Krylov is a supporter of the Donbas separatism movement as per The Daily Star, which seeks independence for the eastern Ukrainian region.

In 2014, Krylov was banned from his gym in Ukraine after entering it wearing Russian colors amidst escalating tensions due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Despite his issues with his home nation, Krylov has publicly stated that he considers himself Russian, though his main loyalties lie with the Donbas region.

This prompted him to leave his home country for Russia and has been spending most of his time in Moscow.

During  weigh-ins ahead of UFC on Fox 14 in January of 2015, Krylov entered the stage wearing a t-shirt that protested against the civil war happening in his hometown.

Х#Й ВОЙНЕ (F–k the War) read his t-shirt.


When asked about it in the past, Krylov was short and direct about how he felt.

“I feel that I am Russian,” Krylov said. “I feel the same as any resident of Donbas,” Nikita said about his home country’s conflicts.

“Unlike the rest of Ukraine, we didn’t seize a district or regional administration with guns. If our republic will be declared, I’ll be the first to stand in line for this passport.”

During a round of interviews after the event last year, Dana White was asked about obscured national identity of Krylov.

“There’s a lot of people who saw the broadcast, I was cage side so I didn’t see, but they were wondering why uh Nikita Krylov didn’t get the Ukrainian flag shown on him?

White replied:

“He asked not to – he asked. Yeah. He asked to be… I don’t know his particular s–t. I don’t care, okay?”