M-1 Challenge XXVI Returns Stateside Friday, July 8th

May 5, 2011
(PRESS RELEASE) -- Europe’s leading mixed martial arts promotion, M-1 Global, returns stateside Friday July 8th for its second U.S. based event in 2011. Headlining the evening’s bout sheet, undefeated, Georgian powerhouse, Guram Gugenishvili (11-0) puts his heavyweight (205+ Lbs) belt on the line against decorated American wrestler, Pat Bennett (4-2) while newly crowned Lightweight Champion (155 Lbs), Jose ‘The People’s Champ’ Figueroa (10-4) makes his first title defense against the versatile German fighter, Daniel Weichel (26-7).

“M-1 Global is fully engaged in preparations for this year’s second US-based Challenge event,” said M-1 Global Director of Operations, Evgeni Kogan. “The European fighters who participated in the March card enjoyed great success in their North American debuts, setting the bar extremely high for those who coming from overseas in July. This group of fighters are eager to put on exciting performances for the fans.”

The heavyweight title clash sets the stage for a battle between a pair of Goliath’s intent to impose their will. MMA site Bloody Elbow recently ranked Guram Gugenishvili as the #1heavyweight prospect in the world and the giant has been putting his opponents to sleep faster than a licensed anaesthesiologist. With 10 impressive submission victories to his name, Guram has the size, strength and power to evolve into one of the most dominant heavyweight fighters in the sport.

Known for his wrestling skills, Bennett has proven to be a multidimensional mixed martial artist able to transition into a touted striker at will; doubters are quickly silenced by his combined amateur and professional record which is heavily weighted in the ‘win’ column with five first-round TKO’s. Capable of managing larger opponents thanks to his versatile background and heavy-handed striking, this New Jersey native is primed to bring a tough fight to the current heavyweight champ.

In the lightweight championship showdown, monstrous 155-pound Champion, Jose Figueroa seized his opportunity headlining M-1 Global’s debut event on SHOWTIME against Artiom Damkovsky and came away with a statement-making victory that captured the card’s Fight of the Night top honour. Effective in leveraging his reach advantage in all facets of the game, Figueroa shows overwhelming control on the ground; fighting from guard, this imposing fighter is capable of posting up and dropping down heavy strikes at will and has conditioning that can go the distance should the judges need to decide the outcome.

Feared submission specialist, Daniel Weichel will stand in the opposing corner eager to make the Champ’s reign short lived. Successful in eight of his last nine trips to the canvass, Weichel’s vault of experience has been hard-fought and earned through international passage with organizations including Shooto, King of the Cage, Cage Warriors and the UFC; he possesses incredible athleticism and dexterity with the ability to scoop the single or double leg takedown effortlessly as a precursor to a submission or a devastating ground-and-pound.

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 held throughout Europe and North America in 2011.

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

About M-1 Global:

Founded in 1998, M-1 Global (www.M-1Global.com) has established itself in the realm of mixed martial arts (MMA) as the premiere entity for discovering and developing the world’s next-generation of superstar fighters. With offices in St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles and affiliates in Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Tokyo and Paris, the M-1 brand has staged over 70 events worldwide including the M-1 Selection and M-1 Challenge events and its co-produced Strikeforce events in the United States. Captivating the live, television and broadband audiences with its superior production values and match-ups, M-1 events boast some of the sport’s top names including Fedor Emelianenko, Andrei Arlovski, Aleksander Emelianenko, Gegard Mousasi, Alistair Overeem, Ben Rothwell, Melvin Manhoef, Roman Zentsov, Stephan Struve and rising stars Shamil Zavurov, Byron Byrd, Alexander Sarnavskiy and Vinny Magalhaes. 2011 marks a breakthrough year with two Selections tournaments across Eastern & Western Europe, North America and Asia and a full calendar of Challenge events fuelled by a talent-rich contention system ranking M-1 Global’s Champions amongst the greatest in the sport.

M-1 Global’s greatest asset is the number one heavyweight fighter in mixed martial arts history, Fedor Emelianenko. With daily coverage on all MMA-related websites in the world, and articles in Time Magazine, LA times and New York times, Fedor and M-1 Global make a lifetime match serving as the catalyst to grow MMA in the 21st century.
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