Since making his UFC debut earlier this year, Mairbek Taisumov has spent 30 minutes inside the Octagon. After hearing nothing but great things about the Chechen-born striker, fans watched nearly every one of those minutes waiting for Taisumov to do something incredible. Whether it was Jon Anik, Kenny Florian, Brian Stann or any of the countless talking heads back in the studio on Fox Sports 1, anyone and everyone was willing to sing praise about the talented young fighter out of Tiger Muay Thai. After two straight disappointing performances, however, it’s easy to start to wonder why we expected big things out of Taisumov in the first place.

It’s usually difficult to pinpoint where a fighter’s hype train started to take off. In Taisumov’s case, he seemed to come out of nowhere. The 25-year-old lightweight had been fighting in various promotions around Europe for the past few years, and although he was starting to put together a solid record and a decent highlight reel, his name wasn’t getting mentioned in the United States by anyone outside of major hardcore fans. When the UFC announced Taisumov’s signing late last year, the move was well received by the MMA community, but there wasn’t any sort of speculation that Taisumov would be the sort of high-level prospect that warranted a ton of extra attention. At some point between Taisumov’s signing and his official UFC debut, though, things changed.

Heading into his UFC debut against Tae Hyun Bang in Singapore in January, Taisumov was listed as the highest betting favorite on the card. While the tremendous amount of hype behind “Beckan” definitely contributed to the line, to be entirely truthful, this was in part thanks to Bang’s lack of credentials as a high-level fighter. Despite the fact that the Korean Top Team member had been in the sport for nearly a decade, “The Supernatural” didn’t have a resume that came close to the usual UFC standards, and he was expected to be little more than a lamb led to slaughter when he stepped into the cage against Taisumov. Between Taisumov’s impressive resume, which may as well have just read “FINISHER,” and the public’s general dismissal of Bang as a worthy opponent, it’s not surprising that plenty of fans and media members alike were ready to jump on the Taisumov bandwagon.

By the time he stepped into the cage for his Octagon debut, we’d heard enough about Taisumov just during the past 24 hours to be eagerly awaiting his performance. From his brutal stand-up skills, which had earned him 10 knockout victories, to his all-around grappling skills and endless gas tank, which had earned him nine submission wins, Taisumov’s hype train was in full effect before he’d even thrown a punch inside the UFC.

Once he did get his feet wet inside the Octagon, what’s surprising is that no one decided to jump off the “Beckan” bandwagon after his performance against Bang, which was underwhelming at best. Bang didn’t seem to present the Tiger Muay Thai product with anything too difficult or unorthodox to handle, but Taisumov had a difficult time pulling the trigger for the vast majority of the 15-minute bout. Even though he ended the fight as the clear winner when the contest hit the judges’ scorecards, it was clear that Taisumov had failed to live up to expectations in his UFC debut. He was going to have to perform at a much higher level the next time he stepped into the Octagon.

Despite his lackluster performance, the majority of the MMA world decided to give Taisumov another chance before abandoning ship. After all, the dreaded “Octagon jitters” have slain plenty of great fighters over the years, and it was entirely possible that Taisumov was just another victim. Hell, even Jon Jones only showed a glimpse or two of greatness in his UFC debut.

As it turns out, all of the problems that Taisumov had in his UFC debut were only magnified once he got into the cage with a true UFC-caliber opponent. Michel Prazeres isn’t exactly a household name, but he pushed longtime UFC veteran Paulo Thiago to the limit in his UFC debut last year and proved to be a tough outing for the former welterweight contender. His forward pressure and tenacity looked to provide Taisumov with a solid test on paper heading into the bout last Sunday at UFC Fight Night 38. Once they entered the cage, it was quickly apparent that it was a test that Taisumov was doomed to fail.

Once again, Taisumov was extremely tentative on the feet, throwing either small combinations or one wild shot, and his inability to get going in the stand-up department ended up killing any chance he had at winning the bout. The Tiger Muay Thai fighter was taken down almost at will by Prazeres in front of the latter’s fellow countrymen. Although Taisumov avoided getting finished on the mat, that’s probably the best thing you can say about his performance. Even after being docked a point on two separate occasions for committing fouls, Taisumov never quite showed the sense of urgency that the UFC likes to see out of its fighters when they find themselves in a big hole. The end result was a laughably lopsided loss on the judges’ scorecards, and Taisumov lost most of his hype along with his perfect UFC record.

It’s obvious now that Taisumov was never going to be able to live up to the hype in his first few UFC bouts, but, in hindsight, this pressure probably shouldn’t have been on “Beckan” from the beginning. Taisumov’s finishing rate heading into his Octagon debut was impressive, but his 19-4 record wasn’t any better than a half dozen other veterans of the European and Brazilian circuits the UFC signs each year. He hadn’t beaten a single fighter worth mentioning in his pre-UFC days, and his losses didn’t exactly come against notables either. Other than his Tiger Muay Thai affiliation and the influx of Russian fighters currently making waves in the UFC, there wasn’t a lot of evidence that Taisumov was going to amount to anything of interest in the Octagon.

Taisumov was dealt a great hand when he drew Bang for his Octagon debut. Although he was the rightful favorite in that bout, the hype train just took off from there. This loss to Prazeres is going to knock Taisumov back down the lightweight ladder and into a few win-or-go-home situations, but with the pressure essentially off of his shoulders, there’s still a chance that “Beckan” can work his way back onto the radar of the MMA community. He still has a ton of work to do before he can even be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the top prospects at 155 pounds, and unless he finds a way to get comfortable inside the cage, that isn’t going to happen.

Taisumov’s next trip inside the Octagon will be a fight that can make or break his UFC career. Even with a win, he shouldn’t expect to gain a whole lot of that hype back. He’s going to have to earn it this time.

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.