Image Credit: Twitter / @M1GlobalNews

If you limit your MMA diet to UFC action, then you’ve probably drawn a blank on some of the names scheduled to compete this Saturday at UFC FN 136. One of the fighters scheduled to make his Octagon debut is Alexey Kunchenko, who has been making some noise and then some, while fighting in Europe.

Since Kunchenko is 34 year’s old, he doesn’t fit some people’s take on what a ‘prospect’ is, but if you like to follow notable newcomers to the UFC, then his credentials definitely warrant it.

Kunchenko has gone 18-0 to date, since he transitioned into pro MMA back in 2013. And how did Kunchenko prepare for his MMA run? By earning a Master of Sport in Hand to Hand combat,  and Master of sport in MMA in his native Russia. In addition, Kunchenko was also apparently a candidate for a Master of Sport in Judo.

Further, Kunchenko is M-1 Global’s welterweight champ, and securing gold in the Russian based organization is no easy feat. Case in point, in Kunchenko’s last outing, he defeated Alexander Butenko, who has a record of 46-13-3. Prior to that, Kunchenko knocked out Sergey Romanov, who is 14-3, and he also holds wins over several, established European vets.

At the UFC’s debut card in Moscow this Saturday, Kunchenko is going to face former welterweight contender, Thiago Alves. Recently the accomplished fighter told UFC.com the following, while discussing Kunchenko:

“I’m fighting a newcomer, but I’m old school – my job is to fight and it doesn’t matter who it is, I’ve got to go out there and I’ve got to win.

“He’s 18-0 and I don’t care what your deal is – if you’re 18-0, you’re definitely good. He’s the man in Russia right now – he’s their champion – so I’m excited to go out there and get the win on enemy soil.”

Finding translated interviews with Russia’s top fighters can be tough, but in Kunchenko’s UFC profile, he had this to say about facing Alves:

“I like that he is experienced. I used to watch his fights and I liked his style. Now it’s time to test myself against him and I feel lucky.”

So, there you have it. It will be interesting to see if Alves can become the first man to defeat Kunchenko in MMA action. The “Pitbull” has struggled somewhat in recent years, however, as Alves is 2-3 in his last 5 outings, and in his last fight, he was KO’d by Curtis Millender.

But, considering what Alves has accomplished to date, and how dangerous he can be, Kunchenko could make a big statement Saturday if he scores a victory.