Magomed Sultanakhmedov Looks to Shake Off Upset at M-1 Challenge XXIII

After Rafal Moks pulled off what would be considered the most exciting upset at M-1 Challenge XXII this past December, Magomed Sultanakhmedov sat idly stunned on the canvass for several minutes seeming to replay the most horrific 19-seconds of his career over and over in his head.

As the heavy favourite going into the title fight, the stage was aptly set for the Tulsa, Russia native to become his country’s hero for the night and end Moks’ Cinderella run through the 2010 Selections tournament. Instead of victory, he suffered the most devastating loss in his career and the choke-hold on the M-1 Challenge middleweight championship vanished in just one tap. When asked about the moments after the loss, Sultanakhmedov spoke with sincerity, “I felt a strong sense of guilt for letting down the fans, my coach and myself.”

Upset from the loss, Sultanakhmedov recently spoke about his game plan going into the fight, “Training camp was no different than for any other fight… We had planned for a longer fight where I would undermine his defense with continuous striking,” said the Russian fighter. “This plan went awry quickly and also confirmed the truth about MMA – bouts are fought from the opening second to the sound of the last bell and no amount of preparation will save you from making a mistake.”

Being caught in an early leg-lock was the fatal error which ultimately cost him the M-1 Challenge championship belt but Sultanakhmedov spoke with realism as he reflected on the tap, “I had to submit once the submission was locked in to ensure I didn’t suffer a serious injury. Tapping doesn’t make me an invalid since now I can prepare to get back in the ring and leave this loss behind me. Yes the loss was unfortunate but it’s not a tragedy. I’ll learn from this, put it in the past and move on.”

With Sultanakhmedov sealing the nightmare of his 19-second outing deep within the vaults of his professional fighting memory, the vastly experienced Team Highlander fighter returns to face Brazilian jiu jitsu expert, Plinio Cruz on the undercard at M-1 Challenge XXIII on Saturday March 5th.

The world champion in karate and kick-boxing and M-1, Dream and K-1 Hero’s veteran, who many have compared to the great Mirko Cro-Cop of the past, may have ended a near-flawless 2010 with a dastardly loss but the talented left-handed striker will be looking to kick off the year by getting back into title contention.

The 26 year old middleweight’s wealth of experience and refined technique again mark him as the favourite to win the bout against Cruz but it’s imperative that Sultanakhmedov doesn’t overlook this as a free pass inside the ropes; he must take heed in the fact that Cruz’s camp took the fight because they feel he can be beaten. With the stage set once again, this tough-as-iron warrior and engaging striker needs to exhibit the exciting fighting style he is known for and impose a flawless game plan to shake off an extremely haunting loss.

About William Smith

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