Andrey Koreshkov is being hailed the next big thing.
The "Spartan's" RusFighter teammates Alexander Shlemenko and Alexander Volkov have already claimed Bellator gold in the past eight months in the middleweight and heavyweight divisions respectively while fellow Russians Frodo Khasbulaev and Vitaly Minakov are in a position to vie for titles in the near future.
Koreshkov has already made a huge first impression with Bellator fans, destroying back-to-back opponents in a pair of tune-up bouts before competing in the Bellator season seven welterweight tournament where he managed to defeat Jordan Smith, Marius Zaromskis and former champion Lyman Good in succession.
The unbeaten prospect spoke to MMAmania.com about his unconventional training methods, the positive impact of coach Alexander Shlemenko and why he's mentally stronger than Askren's previous opponents in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): We saw a video of you jumping in ice water after leaving the sauna outside in the Russian winter. What's the method to that madness?
Andrey Koreshkov: It was a relaxing procedure. We do in the peak of training and it helps your muscles relax and gets you to focus on recovery. At the same time, it's also training for your cardiovascular because when you're sitting in the very hot sauna, your muscles are swelling up and getting bigger and then when you jump in the ice cold water, they get smaller and contract so it's good training for your muscles. It's actually a pleasant feeling and it feels good for me. It doesn't toughen me up or anything else.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After Ben Askren defended his title against Karl Amoussou, he looked into the camera and said "I must break you" to you. What did you think of that?
Andrey Koreshkov: I don't care about such things. American fighters like to get attention to themselves and bring attention to their fights and that doesn't bother me at all.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've criticized Askren for being boring, but in his last fight he was active and more aggressive. What did you think of his last fight compared to his previous ones?
Andrey Koreshkov: If you compare his last fight to his previous fights, I would say it was an extremely spectacular performance, but really it was a good fight. His opponent wilted and good for him.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I saw a photo of Chael Sonnen at Reign Training Center with your manager where you work when you visit America, did you get a chance to work with him at all?
Andrey Koreshkov: No, I did not. I got to practice with my coaches and while I didn't work with Chael, I did work with Jake Ellenberger. Chael is a bit too big for me so he worked with Vitaly Minakov, my teammate. In regards to preparing for this fight, I only trained with Jake a little bit, but I did most of my work for this fight in my home town of Omsk in Siberia with my coach Alexander Shlemenko and my teammate Alexander Sarnavskiy. I think I had a very good training camp over there. I used my time in the United States in California to acclimate and get some last minute preparation for this fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you discuss the importance of having your coach Alexander Shlemenko in your corner for this fight? You didn't have him with you to start the last tournament against Jordan Smith and that was when you had your most difficult bout.
Andrey Koreshkov: It is very important for me because he knows me really well because I'm his student. I hear everything he says during the fight and he's able to correct any mistakes I may be making. I also am much more self-confident when he his with me so I'm very glad that he's with me as I vie for the title and that he's in my corner. He really helps me to clear my mind and focus on the fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Does it also help to have two Bellator champions on your team? Does it give you any extra confidence knowing two other RusFighter teammates have gone through the Bellator tournament and become champions?
Andrey Koreshkov: No, not at all. What gives me confidence for this fight is that I've been training under my coach and he'll be there with me. That's where I draw everything from.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned that even though Ben Askren has won medals wrestling, you've won plenty of medals yourself. I was wondering what medals did you earn and for what?
Andrey Koreshkov: I won the championship in pankration in Russia and I also won the World Championships in pankration in Poland and lastly I won the gold medal for the World Combat Games also for pankration in China.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you think the champion Ben Askren is underestimating you at all?
Andrey Koreshkov: To be frank with you, I don't know. However, I am sure he's always ready for his fights so I expect him to be ready for this fight. He always comes in great shape and in a good state of mind for his fights. This fight is going to be tough and interesting.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): If everything goes perfectly for you, how would you like the title fight to play out?
Andrey Koreshkov: Well the goal is to not let him impose his will on the fight and take me down. I expect to win in spectacular fashion. I don't care how I do it, I just want to win and not let him take me down.
Andrey would like to thank his coach Alexander Shlemenko, his manager Alexei Zhernakov. You can follow him on Twitter @SpartanKoresh.