M-1’s Lightweight Champion Artiom Damkovsky Prepares for Inaugural Title Defense

25 year old Belarusian mixed martial artist Artiom Damkovsky walked away from his last battle carrying M-1 Global’s first-ever lightweight championship belt and extended his current win streak to five, improving his record to a respectable 11-4. Capping off a seemingly ‘Cinderella story’ torrent through the 2010 Eastern Europe M-1 Selection tournament with back-to-back-to-back decisions, Damkovsky’s run was viewed as one of the toughest passes to championship status across the tournament brackets in any region and his quest culminated with gold.

The champion is now ready to cross the Atlantic ocean to make his first title defense against American Top Team protégé, Jose Figueroa in the headline bout at M-1 Challenge XXIV; the battle from the Constant Center in Norfolk, Virginia can be seen LIVE on SHOWTIME on Friday, March 25th at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

Since making his professional debut against Vladimir Ermolaev at Shooto Belarus – Bushido in July 2006, Damkovsky struggled through adversity as he developed his talents; his turn around came with a victory against Hiroyuki Abe and he hasn’t looked back since.

Inside the gruelling tournament structure, Damkovsky showcased an incredible combination of power, speed and skill that he uses effectively to wear out his opponents. He possesses a keen awareness for ring positioning which enables him to unleash stinging leg kicks and spinning back-fists and to engage in taunting cat-and-mouse counters; with an innate ability to take down his opponents with ease, it’s not uncommon for Damkovsky to put his opponents on the ground just to stand back up to his feet as if to say ‘I can take you down any time. Now get up and let’s go.’

Although only 5’8”, Damkovsky possesses a substantial reach and its clear this talented prospect understands how to effectively use this advantage. Being able to sit back and counter with explosive, powerful striking comparable to a welterweight, the Belarusian has shown to be extremely tactical in his game plan and apt in his defence; he’s also proven to critics that he has a durable chin capable of taking the heaviest of shots and then continue on relentlessly.

His impressive tournament performances were followed up with victory in his title shot against Mairbek Taisumov, one of M-1 Challenge XXI’s most exciting battles; Damkovsky weathered a first-round storm to comeback and punish Taisumov in the third with jumping knees and outside leg-kicks. While trying to fend off the relentless attack, Taisumov took an unintentional finger to the eye which the ringside physician deemed enough to warrant a stoppage and declaring Damkovsky the victor.

As Europe’s leading mixed martial arts promotion’s first-ever M-1 Challenge lightweight champion, Damkovsky represents a formidable roadblock for Americas Selections tournament winner Jose Figueroa who has anxiously been awaiting his shot to dethrone his foe on US soil.

M-1 Challenge: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa airs LIVE on SHOWTIME on Friday, March 25 at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

About William Smith

After watching the first Ultimate Fighting Championship I became instantly hooked. I've been a huge fan of the sport of MMA ever since. Haven't missed a UFC event & thanks to fight pass I've witnessed some of the all time greatest fighter & athletes the sport through Pride, Strikeforce, WEC, Glory, Pacrase, EliteXC.............. I resently joined MMA-paradise.com & will use this site to continue to bring the latest news from the world of MMA to all our loyal followers.