The bitter feud between Russian MMA fighters Sergey Kharitonov and Adam Yandiev appears to be over after the pair made a very public show of reconciliation in Moscow on Tuesday.
After being discharged from hospital on Monday – where he had remained for 10 days following a brutal attack by Yandiev, allegedly over unpaid debts – Bellator MMA veteran Kharitonov appeared at a specially arranged press conference in the Russian capital where he announced that he and Yandiev had made peace.
“We met, spoke like men and shook hands,” said the 40-year-old Kharitonov, after a video had been shown to the assembled media of him and Yandiev clasping hands and embracing.
"We have no issues with each other. The main thing is that this does not happen again among athletes, especially high-level athletes," Kharitonov added.
Yandiev, 32, had set upon Kharitonov on the sidelines of a combat sports event at Moscow’s Luzhniki complex on Friday November 13, reportedly after being reminded of an alleged debt that he owed the veteran heavyweight.
Yandiev – who competes at middleweight and last fought in the cage in September 2018, suffering defeat in his sole UFC appearance to date – landed two rapid-fire punches on a seemingly unsuspecting Kharitonov.
By the time the pair had been dragged apart, Kharitonov had taken severe damage to his nose and right eye, causing him to be hospitalized for 10 days.
The fighter is said to have suffered a broken nose and right orbital bone in the assault. Earlier in the evening, Yandiev was also seen attacking Kharitonov’s friend, businessman and amateur MMA fighter Ruslan Abdo.
Two criminal cases were opened against Yandiev, while reports claimed Kharitonov was also pursuing a fraud claim against the middleweight fighter over alleged unpaid debts to the tune of 1 million rubles ($13,000).
Speaking in hospital in the wake of the attack, Kharitonov himself had talked of unpaid debts and had also suggested Yandiev had used a knuckleduster in the attack.
Russian MMA feud: Kharitonov leaves hospital after assault by UFC’s Yandiev as veteran files FRAUD claim against fellow fighter
But the heavyweight had changed his tune dramatically when facing the media on Tuesday – showing remarkably little sign of the damage he had suffered.
"This is confidential information, I don't want to talk about it," Kharitonov said at Moscow’s Izvestia press center when asked whether Yandiev had repaid his alleged debts. "We solved all the issues, shook hands. I think that's enough.”
Kharitonov said he had been ruled out of action for at least three months, but that could extend to as long as half a year as he recovers.
The veteran brawler admitted he had been “ashamed” by some aspects of the conflict, and that things had been said in the heat of the moment after the brawl.
“Personally, I was ashamed. It was emotions, but everything that happened, happened,” Kharitonov said.
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The Russian press had been shown a clip of them making up, in which a contrite Yandiev first offered an apology for his actions.
“Sergeiy let me tell you first. As an athlete who must contain himself and his emotions, I must apologize to you. You are a man because you came to me today," said Yandiev – who is known by the fighting moniker ‘Boroda’ (Beard) and boasts a 9-1 professional MMA record.
“We said a lot to each other [based] on emotions. A lot of people, young people are looking at us. This whole situation does not lead to good. I have no aggression towards you, no anger, resentment. Forgive me for not holding back and letting go of my hands.”