Oleg Taktarov is a Russian retired mixed martial artist. He is also an actor. He holds a 3rd Dan Black Belt in Judo. He is a Master of Sport in Sambo and a 4th Dan Black Belt in Ju-Jitsu. He has competed in the Pride Fighting Championship and the Ultimate Fighting Championships.

Taktarov holds notable wins against other MMA players, like Marco Ruas, Tank Abbott, Anthony Macias, and Mark Kerr. He won the UFC 6 Tournament and he is nicknamed, “The Russian Bear”.

Height / weight 1.83 m / 96 kg
Born 26 Aug 1967
Nationality Russian Federation Russian Federation
Nickname The Russian Bear

Athlete Bio

Taktarov was born on August 26, 1967 in Arzamas-16, Gorky Oblast, RSFSR, USSR. His full name is Oleg Nikolaevich Taktarov. His native name is spelled Оле́г Такта́ров.

Oleg stands 6 feet 0 inches or 183 cm tall. His weight is listed at 210 pounds or 95 kilograms. He plays in the heavyweight division in the MMA and he is experienced in several Martial Arts styles including Judo, Sambo, Boxing, and Ju-jitsu.

Early Career and Transfer to the United States

Taktarov showed an interest in Mixed Martial Arts at an early age. He took up both Judo and Sambo when he was 12. During his obligatory military service, Taktarov participated in events related to those disciplines.

Oleg also became an instructor for hand-to-hand combat in the KGB.

He retired from competing in martial arts when he was 22 but in 1989, he became attracted to play in Jujitsu Full Contact. He soon began training for Ju-Jitsu around this time and went on to become a four-time European champion.

Following political tensions in his country, he was forced to flee to the United States. There he would attempt an acting career but would be held back because of his lack of English fluency.

Attempt to Join Gracie Academy

His original goal in the United States was to become an actor but he would instead be more interested in the UFC.

He got in touch with the Gracie Ju-Jitsu Academy and offered his services to train Royce Gracie in Sambo leglocks. Despite having proven his skills against several instructors, he was rejected to join the Academy because he was unable to pay the fee.

Ultimate Fighting Championship Debut

In April of 1994, he was accepted to play in UFC 5. It would later come to light that the Gracie family had tried to keep Taktarov out of the UFC.

A week before UFC 5, Taktarov dislocated his knee but he did not pull out of the competition. For the event, he was billed as “The Russian Bear”.

He stood out because of his friendly smile and he was touted as a Sambo expert.

His first opponent was Ernie Verdicia. He quickly defeated Verdicia, and Taktarov would move on to go against Dan Severn. Severn took him down and was repeatedly hit by knee strikes and headbutts. The fight was later stopped and was decided in favor of Severn.

Ken Shamrock and UFC 6 Win

Following UFC 5, Taktarov trained in private with Ken Shamrock of the Lion’s Den Fighting Team.

He was allowed to play in UFC 6 and for the first round, he faced Dave Beneteau. He tapped Beneteau out with a choke. His next match was with Anthony Macias. It became the fastest submission in UFC history in favor of Taktarov.

His defeat of Macias was booed by the audience who believed it was a rigged fight to see Taktarov through to the final. Both Macias and Taktarov shared a promoter.

Taktarov went on to the main event of the night, facing against Tank Abbott. It was a hard-fought bout. Taktarov won with the rear-naked choke. He would later be taken to the hospital with an oxygen mask on. The high altitude of Casper, Wyoming had affected him.

UFC 7, Ultimate Ultimate 1995, and UFC Retirement

For UFC 7, Taktarov was invited to play. His first fight would be with a former trainer, Ken Shamrock. It ended in a draw.

Taktarov would later join the Ultimate Ultimate 1995 Tournament where he would rematch with Dave Beneteau. Later, he would fight with and win against Marco Ruas. His next fight would be with Dan Severn.

Taktarov retired from the UFC following Ultimate Ultimate.


After playing in the UFC, Taktarov moved to Brazil to play Vale Tudo. He would play and defeat Marco Ruas again. The Vale Tudo match was supposed to have a rubber match back in the UFC, it never materialized.

He returned to the US with a broken hand and was given short notice that he was scheduled to fight Renzo Gracie for the Martial Arts Reality Superfighting. His injured hand kept Taktarov from performing his best.

Following this, Taktarov went on to play against Sean Alvarez and Gary Goodridge. He suffered a knockout defeat against Goodridge. Taktarov would later attest that Goodridge was riding a steroid high when he defeated him.

Taktarov also participated in a celebrity bout against Dolph Lundgren in Russia.

Return to Mixed Martial Arts

Taktarov would return to Mixed Martial Arts in 2007. He had a debut win against John Marsh. He would later win against Mark Kerr.

MMA Record

Total – 24
Wins - 17
Wins by KO - 2
Wins by Submission - 14
By Decision - 1
Losses - 5
Losses by Knockout - 3
Losses by Decision - 2
Draws – 2

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