Figueroa: Ready to Reign

May 12, 2011
(PRESS RELEASE) -- As the headliner on M-1 Global’s stateside debut on Showtime, ‘The People’s Champ’ usurped his newly adorned belt with a dominating destruction of Artiom Damkovsky. With fans tuning in from around the world, Figueroa issued a statement-making performance showing why he deserves to be the crowning jewel of Europe’s leading mixed martial arts promotion’s lightweight division. Ready to make his first defense, the American Top Team standout is diligently preparing for his upcoming bout on July 8th against feared German submission specialist, Daniel Weichel; the pair meet as the co-main event at M-1 Challenge XXVI: Guram vs. Bennett.

Hailing from Orlando, Florida ‘The People’s Champ’ is a role model to the sport and to his son. As a professional fighter, he fuels the growth of mixed martial arts to the younger generation of students and prospects though instruction to groups and individuals seeking to develop their own skill set. “Mixed martial arts is my college, my job and my profession,” says a modest Figueroa. “I teach and train everyday to further the sport and to take care of my family. I’m a father and having my little boy look up to me and want to do all the things I do is awesome.”

Standing at 6’3”, Figueroa is a monstrous lightweight who made his professional debut in 2006 with a decisive TKO Victory over Chandler Belaston. From here, he went on to win another three consecutive bouts before tasting his first defeat by way of submission thanks to a suffocating guillotine choke sunk in by notable Jonathan Brookins. The loss was shaken off and Figueroa went on a three-fight tear before falling off the horse and losing three straight. Some may see the string of losses as a fighter losing his game and ability – until you look deeper into the story. These three losses came against top-tier competition: Eric Reynolds, Edson Barboza and Luis Palomino, who have a combined record of 36-11. Figueroa has been fighting high level competition from day one and is one tough competitor himself holding a respectable 10-4 record as a professional fighter currently hailed as M-1 Global’s Lightweight Champion.

In his performances throughout the 2010 M-1 Selection tournament, Figueroa effectively utilized his reach advantage and showed overwhelming control on the ground; fighting from guard, the imposing fighter is capable of posting up and dropping down heavy strikes at will and has solid conditioning that go the distance should the three wise men sitting ringside need to decide the outcome.

Coming out of his tournament bouts against Josh Thorpe and George ‘Light’s Out’ Sheppard relatively unscathed, “The People’s Champ” waited patiently for his title shot after winning the 2010 M-1 Selection Americas lightweight brackets and seized an unprecedented victory that shot him on to the radar of MMA fans throughout North America.

Considered the favourite heading into his title fight against Damkovsky, Figueroa wasted no time after touching gloves to open the contest and immediately went to work, effectively utilizing his reach advantage with crisp jabs as Damkovsky countered with high kicks that couldn’t land. Early inside the first round, it was clearly evident that Figueroa was the much bigger and stronger fighter as he powered around the canvass while Damkovsky struggled to stay out the American’s massive reach. With relentless follow up, Figueroa rocked Damkovsky with a shot that spit up his nose and then drove a text-book takedown where he worked from guard and rained down heavy strikes which left Damkovsky battered and bloodied at the end of an explosive first round.

With blood spewing from his nose, Damkovsky delayed as long as he could to start the second but Figueroa continued where he left off, countering Damkovsky’s leg kicks and setting up a phenomenal slam into top position where he unleashed piston-pumping strikes to his opponent’s face that was drenched in blood, spattering a halo around his head’s imprint on the canvass. With Damkovsky’s defense destroyed and unable to escape the storm of shots, the referee in charge intervened to halt the one-sided beating at 2:28 of round two, crowning Figueroa the new champion on M-1’s SHOWTIME debut.

With the momentous win, Figueroa is determined to extend his current three fight streak with a victorious title defense on July 8th; to continue his Cinderella run, he’ll once again need to deliver a career performance against Daniel Weichel’s vast vault of experience, speedy striking and stealth submissions.

With M-1 Challenge champions established in all five weight classes, a true contenders system will fuel events throughout 2011, driving M-1 Global’s growth as a leading brand in the US and international markets.

2011’s full slate of M-1 Challenge events held in the United States and Europe are primed to be mega-event spectaculars where Champions defend their titles and contenders jockey for position for a coveted shot at the gold. Feeding the contention system will be two Selection tournaments in 2011 with details being announced shortly.

For additional information, go to the official M-1 website, www.M-1Global.com and M-1 Global facebook fan page.
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