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M-1 Challenge 69 Gets Heavyweight Main Event with Denis Smoldarev vs. Kenny Garner


Heavyweights Denis Smoldarev and Kenny Garner will top the bill next month when M-1 Global returns to the scenic mountains of the Russian republic of Ingushetia.

M-1 on Wednesday announced Smoldarev-Garner as the headliner for M-1 Challenge 69, the fifth installment in the promotion’s outdoor “Battle in the Mountains” series. Set to stream live on July 16, the show will also feature a featherweight bout between Croatia’s Antun Racic and Russia’s Movsar Evloev.

Smoldarev, 26, has twice contended for the M-1 Challenge heavyweight belt, coming up short against Marcin Tybura in 2014 and, most recently, Alexander Volkov in February. Prior to his submission loss to Volkov, the 6-foot-7 Estonian had notched back-to-back wins against Maro Perak and Chaban Ka.

Once the undisputed M-1 heavyweight champion, 41-year-old Garner has struggled to find his footing in the Russian ring since losing the belt to Damian Grabowski in 2013. “Deuce” is 4-2 overall in his last six outings, with both defeats coming at the hands of Pride veteran Sergei Kharitonov.
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