Rasul Mirzaev, a onetime Bellator recruit who never got the chance to fight under the promotion’s banner after being arrested for his role in the death of a student following a street fight in Russia, was convicted of manslaughter in a Moscow courtroom on Tuesday, according to numerous Russian news reports.
Mirzaev was given the maximum sentence of two years in prison.
After announcing the verdict, judge Andrey Fedin ordered Mirzaev released on time served. He’d been in jail since the August 2011 incident, and under Russian law, one day in detention counts as two in prison.
The incident happened in August 2011, just days after Mirzaev reportedly signed with Bellator. According to news reports of the trial, Mirzaev and his girlfriend Alla Kosogorova were leaving a Moscow night club called Garage when they became involved in a heating exchange with the victim, 19-year-old student Ivan Agafonov.
Agafonov reportedly insulted Kosogorova, and Mirzaev punched him in the face once, knocking Agafonov to the ground, where he hit his head on a metal drain cover. He died four days later.
The prosecution initially charged him with a more severe crime but eventually requested it be reduced as questions arose as to whether Agafonov died from the punch, his head striking the ground or medical errors in his care. After the verdict, Agafonov’s father angrily burst out of the court.
Mirzaev, a 26-year-old featherweight, reportedly tried to help Agafonov after realizing he was badly hurt. He also voluntarily turned himself into police, cooperated with the investigation and sent money to the victim’s family.
It was feared that the case would bring heightened nationalist tensions to the area, as Mirzaev is from Dagestan while the victim was Russian. Extra security measures were put in place prior to the verdict, according to reports.
Mirzaev, also a 2010 sambo world champion in the 62-kilogram category, had been a perfect 5-0 in MMA at the time of his Bellator signing, and had just recently defeated former Sengoku featherweight champ Masanori Kanehara. It is not currently known whether he will resume his MMA career.
[UPDATE: A Bellator spokesman reached out to MMA Fighting to say that while Bellator pursued Mirzaev in 2011 and several media outlets reported his signing, "there was never an executed contract in existence between Bellator and Mirzaev."]