Garner Replaces Injured Guram at M-1 Challenge 26

By Mike Whitman Jun 9, 2011
M-1 heavyweight champion Guram Gugenishvili has suffered a training injury to his left arm and wrist and will not defend his title at M-1 Challenge 26, the promotion announced Thursday.

Stepping in to face Pat Bennett in Gugenishvili's stead will be American Top Team product Kenny Garner. Headlined by a lightweight title showdown between Jose Figueroa and Daniel Weichel, M-1 Challenge 26 goes down July 8 from The Hangar at the O.C. Fair and Events Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., and will air on Showtime.

“As unfortunate as late training injuries are, they’re part of the sport. No one is more disappointed about the change in circumstances than Guram himself. He was absolutely gutted when breaking the news to us,” said M-1 official Evgeni Kogan in the release. “We hope Guram makes a swift recovery so he can return to action as soon as possible.”

A winner of four of his last five, Garner faced both Gugenishvili and Bennett in 2010, knocking out the American in “M-1 Selection 2010 -- The Americas Finals” in September before falling by submission to the Ukrainian at M-1 Challenge 21 just a month later. Most recently, “Deuce” knocked out Danny Lockhart in April, finishing his foe in just 2:52.

A member of Team Bombsquad, Bennett recently rebounded from his 2010 loss to Garner -- only the second of his career -- to outpoint Alexander Volkov at M-1 Challenge 22 in December. Bennett's first loss came in just his second career bout at the hands of reigning Bellator heavyweight king Cole Konrad. Bennett followed that defeat with back-to-back wins, besting Ryan Nick Smiley and Mehdi Hassan in the first two rounds of the “M-1 Selection 2010 -- The Americas” tournament.

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