M-1 Challenge XXVI Returns Stateside Friday, July 8th, Heavyweight and Lightweight Title Fights Headline a Knockout Card

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.

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…………..

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