Archive for Jimmy Smith

M-1 Challenge: Team Spain vs. Team Japan

Posted in M-1 Challenge, TV Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by jaytan716

As we get closer to the end of the 2008 M-1 Challenge tournament, a few, like Team Holland (Group B) and Team Russia Red Devil (Group A), stand out as frontrunners for the championship finals.  However, several others still have a chance to make a dent in the upper standings.  Tonight, Team Spain and Team Japan duke it out for that opportunity.

At 1-1 in team challenges, third place Team Spain just barely sits above Team Japan in the Group B standings, who are in a 1-2 tie with the World Team for fourth place.  The Spanish need a clean sweep victory to make any tangible progress, as a 4-1 performance or less will only time them with second place Team Russia Legion.  Conversely, a team challenge victory of any score will put the Japanese over their opponents tonight.

As always, announcers Sean Wheelock and Fight Quest’s Jimmy Smith are on-hand to call the matches.  This meet originally took place on October 29th of this year at Harrah’s Casino in Kansas City, MO.

Lightweight Division:  Carlos Valeri (Team Spain) vs. Daisuke Nakamura (Team Japan)

Nakamura (17-9) is on a six-match winning streak, dating back to October of last year.  This summer, he beat Bogdan Christea of Team Holland via decision, then, four days later, submitted Andy Ologun via flying armbar.  Valeri is the clear underdog in this match, as he’s prone to get caught with submissions.  Nakamura has at least 11 submissions wins to his record.

Round 1:  Valeri is throwing punches.  Before I can even finish typing my thought, Nakamura leaps up, brings Valeri to the ground, and taps him out via flying armbar at 0:26 of the first round.

Nakamura is now 4-0 in his individual matches.

Team Japan takes the opening match, 1-0.

Welterweight Division:  Javier Martinez (Team Spain) vs. Hidehiko Hasegawa (Team Japan)

This is Martinez’ M-1 debut.  Hasegawa, a Pancrase and DEEP veteran, previously beat Norman Paraisy of Team France.

Round Two (joined in progress):  Hasegawa and Martinez trade shots.  Martinez shoots for a single-leg, but Hasegawa blocks it with a kimura attempt.  Hasegawa rolls Martinez to the mat with the kimura and takes side mount.  Martinez turtles up, but Hasegawa follows through and takes his back; he slaps on a body triangle and works for a rear naked choke.  Martinez escapes the choke but is still stuck in the body triangle.  He tries rolling all over, but Hasegawa follows through.  In the corner, Hasegawa transitions to a straight armbar.  Martinez shifts his position, gets on top, and goes to town with ground-and-pound, but referee James Lee restarts them in the middle of the ring.  Hasegawa defends with a rubber guard until the bell rings.

Martinez must have won the first round, because Hasegawa rolled away with this one, and we’re going to an overtime third round.

Round Three:  Martinez shoots again, but sits out quickly and goes fetal as Hasegawa blocks the shot.  Hasegawa hooks Martinez’ right leg (think crumpled up half-guard) and peppers Martinez with hammerfists and body shots.  Hasegawa switches between a side position to full mount and back, settling for closed guard.  Martinez is trying to mount an offense from below, working from rubber guard to butterfly guard to closed guard, but Hasegawa just continues his ground-and-pound until he regains a rear naked choke.  They scramble to their feet, Martinez keeping a single-leg.  Referee Lee separates them again.  Martinez throws a few kicks and Hasegawa pushes him to the ground.  The bell rings, but they continue for a few seconds before Lee finally steps in.

Judges give the match to Hidehiko Hasegawa by unanimous decision.  Fans boo irrationally.

Team Japan again, 2-0.

Middleweight Division:  Rafael Rodriguez (Team Spain) vs. Yuya Shirai (Team Japan)

This is the M-1 debut for Shirai (13-7), who is a mainstay in the Japanese DEEP promotion.  Rodriguez’s (13-6) previous match was a submission loss at light heavyweight to Besike Gerinava (Team Russia Legion).

Round One:  Rodriguez has a significant height difference.  He chases Shirai around, throwing a flying knee.  He gets a guillotine, but Shirai pulls out and clinches him against the ropes.  Shirai throws Rodriguez to the ground, but is nullified with a clinch from the bottom.  Shirai passes guard and works for Rodriguez left arm, working a kimura from side mount.  Shirai is in good position and gets the tap at 2:16 of the first round.

Team Japan wastes no time claiming the team challenge, 3-0.

Light Heavyweight Division: Jose Beltran (Team Spain) vs. Tatsuya Mizuno (Team Japan)

Hailing from Kiyoshi Tamura’s U-File camp, Mizuno has a 1-1 record in M-1.  This is Beltran’s M-1 debut, and he’s defending an unblemished 7-0 record.

Round One:  Beltran immediately shoots for a single-leg takedown and gets belly-to-back-control against the ropes.  He works hard to take Mizuno to the ground, even jumping on his back, but to no avail.  Referee Lee restarts the stalemate in the middle.  Mizuno throws a left kick into Beltran’s ribs, which drops him like a Spanish Juniper tree (which, to be clear, is big).  Referee Lee jumps in and calls the match at 1:53, but Beltran immediately protests, appealing to the crowd.  He even smacks his own face as if to say “see, I’m ok.”  He is, however, respectful and sportsmanlike towards Mizuno.

Beltran is Team Japan adds insult to injury with a fourth victory, 4-0.

Heavyweight Division:  Rogent Lloret (Team Spain) vs. Yuji Sakuragi (Team Japan)

Although there’s only one year age difference between the two, Sakuragi comes in with an 8-11-1 NC record, while Lloret is 1-1-1.  This would never happen under the Garcia Regime.

Round One:  Lloret has over 15 pounds and almost a foot height difference on Sakuragi.  Sakuragi sets it off with a spinning back kick.  Lloret charges Sakuragi and takes him down.  Sakuragi is looking for an armbar, but Lloret works ground-and-pound.  Referee James Lee restarts them in the middle of the ring.  Lloret dictates the position for the rest of the round, taking full mount, and then riding Sakuragi with hooks.  Sakuragi fends off the choke with hand control.

Round Two:  Sakuragi charges, but Lloret catches him, throws Muay Thai knees, and spins Sakuragi to the ground.  Lloret gets full mount, and takes the back.  Sakuragi again prevents the choke with hand control, and is able to spin for top control.  Referee Lee stands them up.  Sakuragi throws some nice high kicks, but Lloret gets the takedown, back, body triangle, and rear naked choke.  To his credit, Sakuragi is demonstrating good defense.  He again spins into top position, and Referee Lee again stands them up.  Sakuragi’s throwing some high kicks, and stuffs a Lloret takedown attempt.  They finish the match with Lloret on the verge of another takedown.  The smile on his face is like a kid at Christmas.

Judges award the round to Lloret via unanimous decision.

Team Spain sabotages a clean sweep with this individual fight win, but Team Japan takes that meet 4-1.

Best Match**: Carlos Valeri vs. Daisuke Nakamura – With a successful and technically immaculate flying armbar, there’s no question.

Worst Match**: Rogent Lloret vs. Yuji Sakuragi – There’s always at least one match in each show where fighters constantly employ the same strategy throughout the entire match.  This wasn’t a bad match per se, as Lloret’s takedowns and back control were clean and effortless, but from that position, but when either man was in top position, little progress was made in finishing.

**(based on footage aired)

This team challenge has pulled Team Japan from their tie for basement status and leapfrogged them over Team Spain, who now is a definitive fourth place out of five.  However, at 1-2 in team challenges and 6-9 for individual matches, if Team Spain can win their next team challenge, they will at least tie Team Japan for third place.

M-1 Challenge will host another live event the day after Christmas, December 26th, at the Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino, just outside of Tacoma, WA.  Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com.  At that event, Team Russia Red Devil will face Team Holland, but you don’t have to wait until then to see Fedor’s training partners.  Next week on HD-Net, the Red Devils throw down with Team Korea.

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M-1 Challenge: Team South Korea vs. Team France

Posted in M-1 Challenge, TV Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2008 by jaytan716

After last week’s preemption for basketball programming, we return to international MMA action with M-1 Challenge.  Tonight, Team Korea vs. Team France square off.

Third place France (2-0) and last place Korea (0-2) only have Team USA between them, but in terms of team challenges, the two couldn’t be farther apart.  For Korea, a win tonight will pull Korea out of the basement.  For France, victory would improve their record to 3-0.  A five-match sweep would firmly put them on top of current first place Team Russia Red Devil.  However, a 3-2 record in individual fights would only improve their record to 9-4, the same as second place Team Finland.

Also worthy of note for Americans is that tonight’s show, which originally took place on October 29th of this year at Harrah’s Casino in Kansas City, MO, is the North American debut of M-1.  Some of you may remember October 2007, when M-1, veteran promoter / manager Monte Cox, and Sibling Entertainment Group announced their plans for a larger North American debut under the M-1 Global namesake, which was to include the post-PRIDE U.S. return of Fedor Emelianenko.  A dissolving of the business relationship six months later thwarted those plans, but regardless, M-1 follows through on their word to debut in the U.S.

As always, announcers Sean Wheelock and Fight Quest’s Jimmy Smith are on-hand to call the matches.

Lightweight Division:  Young-su Kim (Team Korea) vs. Makhtar Gueye (Team France)

Kim has a SURPRISINGLY OBVIOUS lot of tattoos.  I’m just going to let that say what it will.    Kim is no stranger to MMA, sporting an 11-6 record.  Gueye debuted in 2003, and has fought in the U.K., South Africa, and Russia, including an impressive win over Team Russia Red Devil fighter Mikhail Malutin.

Former King of the Cage Light Heavyweight champion James Lee is the referee.

Round 1:  Kim & Gueye gauge each other’s power with a respective kick-punch exchange.  Kim shoots for a takedown, but doesn’t even get below Gueye, who sprawls with no delay.  They trade more combinations, but Kim slows things down with a clinch and knees in the corner.  Gueye is very composed, waiting for his opening.  He finally reverses Kim into the corner and goes to town with body shots before Kim drops straight down.  James Lee stops the match at 1:02 of the first round.

Gueye picks Kim up and totes him around the ring.  I suppose it’s in your best interest to show respect to a Korean with as much dubious ink as Kim has.

Team France is up 1-0.

Welterweight Division:  Do-hyung Kim (Team Korea) vs. Farouk Lakebir (Team France)

Do-hyung Kim has spent his time between Japan and Korea, fighting mostly in the Japanese MARS promotion, where he won a four-man, one-night tournament in December 2006.  We’ve seen “Paco” Lakebir before, when he dropped a hard-fought scrap to Jake Ellenberger of Team USA.

Round 4 (joined in progress):  Indeed, we’re going to a second overtime round, or the fourth overall round of the match.  Apparently the two split the first overtime round.

Lakebir opens up with leg kicks.  Kim volleys back with shots to the head.  Both men look surprisingly alert and energetic for going into the 20-minute mark.  Lakebir goes for a takedown and ends up getting Kim’s back.  He sinks the hooks in and spins to his butt, pulling Kim to his back.  Kim is composed, fending off the choke with hand control and strikes behind him, but he’s not working to escape.  Finally, James Lee stands them up.  One single-leg attempt and one judo throw attempt later and they’re both in the corner.  Lakebir rolls Kim to the ground, but the Korean holds onto a kimura.  Lakebir’s arm is really trapped, muting the effectiveness of his top position.  Lakebir gets Kim’s back again, hooks included, and rides Kim to the end of the round.

In a surprise, Kim gets the decision win.  Lakebir clearly controlled the fourth round, and if the previous three rounds were tied (keep in mind that M-1 matches are two regulation rounds and a third overtime round only if necessary), then this win makes no sense.  Maybe it’s just an anti-France thing.

France and Korea are tied at 1-1.

Middleweight Division:  Min-suk Heo (Team Korea) vs. Karl Amoussou (Team France)

Amoussou is one of the rising stars of M-1, a ferocious striker who slightly resembles Wanderlei Silva in style and looks.  Heo has fought steadily in Korea and Japan since 2006, beating Radmir Gabdulin of Team Russia Red Devil in his previous M-1 outing.

Round 2 (joined in progress):  Round one must have been a barn burner, as both these fighters are amped to throw down.  Heo sets it off with a modified superman punch, clinching Amoussou in the corner.  Heo finally gets the takedown, but James Lee restarts them in the middle of the ring.  Amoussou works from butterfly guard for an opening and briefly tries a guillotine, but they’re brought to their feet.  Before Amoussou has a chance to reset, Heo attacks with a side kick.  Amoussou throws him back like a ragdoll, but Heo rebounds with a takedown.  Another standing restart.  Heo and Amoussou are swinging for the fences.  Amoussou gets Heo’s back standing and wears him down with knees.  Lee restarts them again standing.  Both these guys are exhausted.  Amoussou has a guillotine against the ropes and jumps guard as the seconds expire.  The two hug like the match is over.  Little do they know.

Round 3:  Amoussou immediately throws a high kick.  Heo returns the favor.  Heo is out of position a lot, losing his balance. As such, he goes to clinch Amoussou against the ropes. Amoussou takes Heo down with an inside leg trip, but Heo gets top position.  Unfortunately, he lays and preys, but James Lee isn’t having it, so they’re up again.  He knows what the fans want.  Amoussou with more high kicks, one of which swings himself on his butt. Heo falls into guard.  Another stand-up.  The routine of Amoussou strikes / Heo clinch / fall-to-the-ground-with-Heo-on-top happens at least twice more before the bell ends the match.

Both men look exhausted, but Heo still campaigns to the crowd.  Karl Amoussou gets the decision victory in third-round overtime.

Team France jumps ahead, 2-1.

Light Heavyweight Division: Eun-soo Lee (Team Korea) vs. Karl Louis-Jean (Team France)

Eun-soo Lee is a veteran off Korea’s Spirit MC, K-1 Heroes, and PRIDE.  This is Louis-Jean’s pro debut.

Round 2 (joined in progress):  Okay, to be clear, going forward, there will be “Fighter Lee” and “Referee Lee.”  Fighter Lee stuns Louis-Jean, who backpedals to his back.  He’s tries to capitalize and finish the Frenchman with punches, but to no avail.  Referee Lee stands them up, much to Fighter Lee’s content.  Louis-Jean charges in again and gets clinched in the corner.  Louis-Jean is merely nullifying Fighter Lee’s offense, but Fighter Lee finally gets on top.  Louis-Jean stalls with a high-guard.  Referee Lee stands them up.  Louis-Jean attacks and catches Fighter Lee proverbially sleeping.  Fighter Lee leg trips Louis-Jean to the ground.  Fighter Lee is working as best he can, but Louis-Jean is simply nullifying the action.  Referee starts them again on the ground.  Jimmy Smith mentions that Louis-Jean didn’t have much time to train, possibly taking this fight on short notice.  Fighter Lee throws knees against Louis-Jean against the ropes.  Louis Jean inevitably falls through the ropes backwards, right onto Announcer Smith.  Fighter Lee continues the assault with knees and hands in Louis-Jean’s corner until that same corner finally throws in the towel and ends the match at 4:22 of the second round.

Team Korea comes back from behind to tie it up, 2-2.

Heavyweight Division:  Sang-soo Lee (Team Korea) vs. Malick N’diaye (Team France)

Sang-soo Lee comes in with a 15-3 record.  At 25, he’s six years the junior to N’diaye, who we last saw finish James Jack of Team USA with, ironically enough, an Americana.  N’diaye is a national wrestling champion from Senegal.

Round 1:  N’diaye stuns Fighter Lee with an overhand right, pushing him against, and eventually through, the ropes.  N’diaye means business, and Fighter Lee is catching up to realize it.  But the Korean is able to bring the pace down.  N’diaye stuns Lee again with a left hand, almost sending Lee through the ropes a second time.  They restart in the middle with N’diaye on top position.  Referee Lee immediately restarts them on the feet.  N’diaye swings haymakers from afar.  Fighter Lee’s striking is more technical, but he also doesn’t seem to know what to do with the big African.  Fighter Lee takes N’diaye down and gets full mount.  The blond woman in black and white stripes sitting in the front row cringes.  Did she not know what she was coming to see tonight?   N’diaye doesn’t seem to have much of an answer for getting out from bottom.  Fighter Lee tries to trap N’diaye’s arm under his knee and go to town.  N’diaye gives up his back to Fighter Lee, who works for the choke, then transitions into an armbar.  Fighter Lee gets the tap with 2 seconds in the round.

For the second time this season, a victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat.  The Koryo flag flies high in M-1 this week.

After two straight team challenge losses, Team South Korea pulls themselves out of the basement, giving Team France their first team challenge loss.  The standings

Best Match**: Kim vs. Lakebir.  Despite the illogical decision, this match had some great exchanges, and was technically sound on the ground.

Worst Match**: Amoussou vs. Heo.  Amoussou really did what he could in this match, but the match was marred mostly from Heo’s clinch and lay-and-pray strategies.

**(based on footage aired)

M-1 will be returning to American soil later this month, December 26th, at the Emerald Queen Hotel and Casino in Seattle, WA.  Team Russia Red Devil will be taking on Team Holland.  Next week on HD-Net, Team Spain and Team Japan take the M-1 Challenge.

M-1 Challenge: Team Russia Red Devil vs. Team USA

Posted in M-1 Challenge, TV Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2008 by jaytan716

For the first time this season, HD-Net resident correspondent Ron Kruck (who should be given all of Kenny Rice’s MMA broadcast assignments) opens up the show with a recap of the past two rounds of action – which HD-Net hasn’t aired.

This is the second time that the series has jumped sequence.  In the previous instance, one explanation given was that technical compatibility problems between the recorded footage and HD-Net’s broadcast standards prevented certain episodes from airing.  Because M-1 Challenge takes place in different countries, different production teams are used, and subsequently, some teams’ equipment does not record with the same quality as that which HD-Net broadcasts.

Strangely enough, Kruck narrates over highlight footage of the two recent missing meets, Team Korea vs. Team USA and Team Japan vs. Team Germany / World Team, which would indicate that compatibility problems weren’t the issue here.  These meets took place on August 29th of this year in Seoul, Korea.

Regardless, tonight’s M-1 Challenge looks to be an homage to the great icons of the Cold War:  Reagan, Gorbachev, Balboa, Drago, Duggan, Rhodes, Magnum T.A., and the Koloffs, as Team USA faces Team Russia Red Devil.

As always, announcers Sean Wheelock and Fight Quest’s Jimmy Smith are on-hand to call the matches.  This meet originally took place on September 27th of this year at the Harvey Hadden Sports Centre in Nottingham, England.

Lightweight Division:   Mikhail Malutin (Team Russia Red Devil) vs. Beau King (Team USA)

Beau King and Mikhail Malutin are even across the board, at 27 years old and both weighing in at 153 lbs.  The only small discrepancy is with King’s 2-3 record, built up on local shows in Southern California, while Malutin comes in at 27-8.  Wait, what did I just write?

Round One:  Despite this disgusting experience difference, King is undeterred, as he sets the pace with a jab-spinning backfist-kick combination.  Malutin takes King down and works from the guard.  King is calm, keeping Malutin tied up with underhooks and working intently for a gogoplata.  Malutin counters with body shots, scrambles around to sink his hooks in, and works a body triangle from the side.  King gets on top and eventually passes to side control.  They scramble to their feet, only to end up in north-south position after Malutin rocks King with a combination.  Malutin spins to King’s back and takes control, hooks and everything.  King struggles to escape, but Malutin sinks in the rear naked choke, flattens King to his stomach, and gets the tapout just as the bell signals the end of the round.

Malutin is awarded the victory and Team Russia Red Devil opens up with a 1-0 lead.

Cameo of the night goes to Ian “The Machine” Freeman, reigning Cage Rage British Light Heavyweight champion, who is doing the ring announcing for the night.  And guest star of the night is Affliction, which is all over the mat and the referee with sponsorship signage.

Welterweight Division:   Erik Oganov (Team Russia Red Devil) vs. Brandon Magana (Team USA)

Magana is a former U.S. Marine who, after fighting sporadically since 2005, has gone into overdrive in 2008.  This is his fourth match of the year, with the third match being just one week before, at the “Strikeforce: Playboy Mansion II” event.  The last time we saw Oganov, who, like his teammate, also claims well over 20 matches, he ended Janne Tulirinta’s (Team Finland) three-match win streak.

Round Two (joined in progress):  Color commentator Jimmy Smith sets the stage by scoring round one as 10-9 for Oganov.  Magana and Oganov trade strikes cautiously.  Oganov hits a hard liver kick and scores a single-leg takedown.  Magana keeps Oganov clinched tight on the ground, using rubber guard to get in position for a triangle.  Oganov is nonplussed.  The two end up standing in the corner before the referee restarts them in the middle of the ring.  Magana charges Oganov into the corner, where the rest of the match takes place.  Magana works for the double-leg, while Oganov mutes him with a guillotine choke.  The second round ends with the bell and Erik Oganov takes the match by unspectacular majority (split) decision.

Team Russia Red Devil pulls ahead in the meet, 2-0.

Middleweight Division:   Dmitry Samoilov (Team Russia Red Devil) vs. Bryan Harper (Team USA)

Bryan Harper is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who was previously knocked out by Min-soo Na of Team Korea in the first round.  Samoilov, a sambo expert, previously won a majority decision against Nikolas Weinberg of Team Finland.

Round Two (joined in progress):  Harper pushes Samoilov back with a double jab and clinch, but Samoilov uses the corner to his benefit, working a kimura lock.  Samoilov tries a trip to the ground which Harper almost counters by balancing on Samoilov’s back, but they scramble to escape bottom position and end up on their feet.  A few more exchanges.  Harper pushes Samoilov back into the corner again and throws a high knee.  Samoilov counters with punches, taking control of the pace of the match.  Harper is now evading engagement, fading back and keeping distance with combinations. The match was Harper’s to lose, and as it transforms into a boxing match, Harper does so.

Dmitry Samoilov takes the match by majority decision as Team Russia Red Devil claims the MMA Cold War with a 3-0 split.

Light Heavyweight Division:  Mikhail Zayats (Team Russia Red Devil) vs. John Cornett (Team USA)

John Cornett is a Jiu-Jitsu expert from the Midwest.  He’s cornered by Team Quest coach Heath Sims and former King of the Cage light heavyweight champion James Lee.  Zayats goes into this match with a 5-1 record, whose last win was a controversial decision against Lucio Linhares (Team Finland).

Round One:  Cornett loves to bang and wastes no time in throwing some big right bombs.  Zayats takes Cornett down with a single leg.  There’s not a lot of action, which results in a restart in the center.  Zayats is trying to ground-and-pound on Cornett, who minimizes the damage with a tight guard.  These two keep working themselves into the corner and under the ropes, as Zayats G & P’s Cornett, who shrimp-crawls his way to the ropes.  Cornett would not do well in Ring of Honor with the rope breaks.  Finally, the ref restarts them standing.  Zayats moves to shoot in, but stops short just as Cornett counters with an overhand right that misses.  Zayats pushes Cornett into the corner with some wild haymakers, then himself gets spun into the ropes.  Zayats gets a verbal warning, perhaps for knees in the groinal neighborhood.  By now, he’s really intent on getting the overhand right one-punch KO.  Cornett, the reputed striker of this match, is now cautious about engaging.  Zayats may have gotten in Cornett’s head with that last flurry.

Round Two:  Right from jump street, these two are swinging for the fences.  Zayats drops Cornett and tries to finish with hammerfists, but the American escapes to his feet.  Only to be taken down again with a double-leg.  They almost fly out of the ring under the blue corner.  Getting back up, Cornett looks to the referee and verbally submits 44 seconds into the second round.  Announcer Sean Wheelock reports that Cornett broke his right hand and has to concede the match.

Team Russia Red Devil adds insult to injury with a fourth victory of the night.

Heavyweight Division:   Kiril Sidelnikov (Team Russia Red Devil) vs. James Jack (Team USA)

James Jack, a former collegiate All-American in wrestling and football, is wasting no time building up his MMA record.  All six of his career matches (3-2-1) have occurred this year.  In his last outing, he lost by submission to Malick N’diaye by submission.

Conversely, Sidelnikov’s nickname is “Baby Fedor.”  Nuff said.

Round One:  Jack comes in with a 30-pound weight advantage over Sidelnikov.  Jack is also wearing wrestling shoes, which automatically prohibits him from throwing head kicks, even standing.  Talk about giving your opponent the handicap.  Sidelnikov has an interesting side stance that reminds me of Lyoto Machida.  Jack shoots for the takedown and gets it in the corner.  Jack tries to keep Sidelnikov down with his weight but Sidelnikov walks his back up the corner padding and is able to outpower the larger American.  He lands a solid right hand which rocks Jack, but not to the point of going to his knees.  Perhaps this is just a delayed reaction, because Jack immediately shoots for a single-leg.  He hangs on to buy time, but Sidelnikov pounds away until the referee jumps in and stops the fight at 4:20 of the first round.

In one night, Team Russia Red Devil singlehandedly erases all the patriotic work that Sylvester Stallone did against the evil Russians in Rocky IV, Rambo II, and Rambo III.  Somewhere in Colorado, the Eckhert brothers are rolling over in their graves, while Danny and Erica carve out Team USA’s names on Partisan Rock.

Best Match**: John Cornett vs. Mikhail Zayats.  There were some wicked slugfest exchanges in this second round, and with the action spilling out of the ring several times, these two delivered great fireworks.  Unfortunately, Cornett’s hand injury was an anticlimactic finish, but until that point, it was the best action of the night.

Worst Match**: Erik Oganov vs. .Brandon Magana.  Very lackluster finish here, as Oganov just rode the last minute to the end of the round with guillotine choke in the corner.

** (based on footage aired)

With their individual fight sweep, Team Russia Red Devil takes the lead with a 2-1 team challenge record and a definitive 11-4 record over Team Finland, which has a 9-6 record from the same number of meets.  Team USA is condemned to fourth place, with a 1-3 team challenge record and a 6-14 individual fight record that is going to be difficult to turn around.

Next week, Team Russia Legion looks to redeem themselves against Team Germany / World Team.

M-1 Challenge: Team Russia Legion vs. World Team

Posted in M-1 Challenge, TV Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2008 by jaytan716

Last week, Team Russia Red Devil dominated Team USA.  Now, the Red Devils’ regional rival, Team Russia Legion, steps into the spotlight, as they face the World Team in Group B action.

As the standings currently look, Russia Legion is tied for second place with Team Spain.  The World Team sits at the bottom, just slightly behind Team Japan, with a 1-1 team challenge record and 4-6 in individual fights.  For the World Team, a victory could launch them from the basement into second place, while, for Russia Legion, even a clean sweep victory will only nudge them from a tie for second place into a tie for first place with Team Holland.  That said, a clean sweep of victories tonight would establish Russia Legion as having the second best overall team challenge (2-1) and individual fight record (10-5) of the entire M-1 Challenge.

As always, announcers Sean Wheelock and Fight Quest’s Jimmy Smith are on-hand to call the matches.  This meet originally took place on September 27th of this year at the Harvey Hadden Sports Centre in Nottingham, England.

Lightweight Division:  Musa Khamanaev (Team Russia Legion) vs. Wim Deputter (World Team)

This is Khamanaev’s debut in this year’s M-1 Challenge.  Deputter’s previous outing was a decision loss to Daisuke Nakamura of Team Japan in a meet that was not televised.

Round Two (joined in progress):  According to Jimmy Smith, Khamanaev took round one with a 10-9 score.  Deputter shoots in right from the bell.  They clinch in the corner, ending up on the ground with Khamanaev in Deputter’s closed guard.  Khamanaev ground-and-pounds away, while Deputter works unsuccessfully to get better position.  When Khamanaev stands up, Deputter immediately shoots for the leg again . . . and ends up in the same bottom position.  Deputter is working to do something with the Russian’s left arm, but keeps getting distracted with short punches.  This pattern apparently mirrors the first round.  Gegard Mousasi is in Deputter’s corner, but that doesn’t seem to help.  Deputter comes close to securing a gogoplata, but loses it.  To their credit, both guys are working hard, but it’s just a stalemate of getting the upper hand.

Judges give the match to Musa Khamanaev by majority (split) decision.  Team Russia Legion takes the opening bout, 1-0.

Welterweight Division:  Sergey Verdesh (Team Russia Legion) vs. Jason Ponet (World Team)

Ponet is 19 years old and was born in French Guiana.  He currently lives and trains in France.  World Team originally was supposed to be a German contingent, but a dearth of qualified German fighters forced M-1 to piece together a pan-European “World Team,” and as such, Ponet finds himself on this team.  Verdesh’s previous M-1 match was over a year ago, submitting to Brian Lo-A-Njoe via second round tapout.

Round Two (joined in progress):  Based on the sweat and heavy breathing of these two, the first round must have been a doozey.  Yes, a doozey.  Verdesh sets things off with combinations.  Ponet is fighting southpaw.  Jimmy Smith explains that the traditional counterstrategy is to attack with overhand rights, which Verdesh does.  Ponet charges in with a Superman punch and gets a takedown, ending up in Verdesh’s guard.  Ponet ground-and-pounds with short punches, while Verdesh fights to hold him down.  Ponet stuns Verdesh with a few headshots, but otherwise, there’s not a lot of action.  This goes all the way to the bell.

Judges give the match to Jason Ponet via unanimous decision.  World Team ties it up, 1-1.

Middleweight Division:  Sergey Kornev (Team Russia Legion) vs.  Rosen Dimitrov (Team World)

Dimitrov is from Bulgaria.  He fought earlier this year and submitted an opponent who also was named Dimitrov.  The only other place you see something like that is in Korea, when Kim fights Kim.  Team Russia Legion appear to be using their B-team for this meet, as neither Kornev, Verdesh, nor Khamanaev have fought in this year’s M-1 Challenge until now.

Round Two (joined in progress):  Dimitrov charges in with furious striking combos to the face.  Kornev didn’t expect those flurries.  He clinches and throws Dimitrov, but both end up falling out of the ring.  Kornev lands some shots on Dimitrov’s face and gets top position after Dimitrov tries for a single leg.  Dimitrov rolls and gives Kornev his back.  They work to their feet, but back to the bottom.  Dimitrov gives up the back again, but Kornev isn’t able to capitalize on it.  Kornev gets a high full mount and rains down some rights, trapping Dimitrov’s left arm.  Dimitrov is so close to losing, but stalls TKO finish when he gives up his back.  Kornev continues the assault, and even falls on top of Dimitrov from his own fatigue, at which point the referee finally steps in and halts the match at 2:59 of the second round.

Team Russia Legion moves ahead with the lead, 2-1.

Light Heavyweight Division: Gadzimurad Omarov (Team Russia Legion) vs.  Niels Van Noord (World Team)

Omarov steps in for Besike Gerinava, who represented Russia Legion against Team Spain.  The Dutchman Van Noord had one other fight, last year, which he won with a leglock.

Round Three (joined in progress):  You read that right, we’re going into a round three overtime, for the first time in the 2008 M-1 Challenge season.  Sean Wheelock explains that this is a crucial round for Omarov and Van Noord, as rounds one and two were split.  Van Noord has a big height advantage over Omarov.  The two are trading punches when Van Noord reaches for a single-leg, but Omarov is able to shift his balance and take him down.  Omarov is in half guard, and tries to get full mount.  Unsuccessful, he resides to work the body with ground-and-pound shots.  Van Noord is barely even trying to escape.  With no action, the referee stands them up.  Same half-hearted single takedown attempt by Van Noord, same off-balance counter by Omarov.  Another stand-up at 1:30 left in the round.  Van Noord shoots for another single leg, but Omarov stuffs and flips Van Noord on bottom.  Van Noord scrambles to get up, and briefly is in whizzer position, but Omarov keeps him down.  Referee stands them up again.  Omarov shoots for the first time in this round and takes Van Noord down before the end of the round.

Judges give the match to Gadzimurad Omarov, securing the night’s team challenge, 3-1.

Heavyweight Division:  Akmed Sultanov (Team Russia Legion) vs.  Sylvester Olesky (World Team)

This is Olesky’s pro debut.  Sultanov comes in looking to vindicate himself from his previous outing, a decision loss to Team Spain’s Rogent Lloret.

Round One (joined in progress):  Olesky has quite the height advantage to Sultanov.  Both are tentative in their shots.  Sultanov throws leg kicks, but also goes high.  Olesky looks like he doesn’t have much striking experience.  Clinch in the corner.  Olseky tries to set up a hip toss, but Sultanov stuffs him and gets a full mount.  Sultanov works for an armbar, but Olesky pulls himself out the back door just as the round ends.

Round Two:  Both men try to mask their fatigue, but the lack of striking betrays their near-empty energy levels.  Sultanov throws overhand rights that whiff past Olesky’s face.  Olesky is trying to have a good first showing, but he’s suffering Sultanov’s leg kicks, is breathing out of his mouth blatantly, and just generally looks out of his element.  Sultanov throws a few more.  Sean Wheelock spots a hematoma over Olesky’s left leg and predicts the big Pole to come crashing down at any moment.  Sultanov is happy to choose his shots, using a lot of head movement and leg kicks to pick Olesky apart.  Fans are starting to get restless and jeer the two combatants.  Sultanov barely keeps the pressure on.
Judges give the match to Akmed Sultanov.  Team Russia Legion walks away with the final individual match, 4-1.

Best Match**: Sergey Kornev vs.  Rosen Dimitrov.  There wasn’t a lot of compelling action here, but it was the only one with an actual finish.

Worst Match**: Musa Khamanaev vs. Wim Deputter.  The second round was the only one to air, but as announcers Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smith mention, this was also a clone of the first round.  The two scrapped on the ground for most of the match, but nobody was close to a submission attempt or a finish.

** (based on footage aired)

Team Russia Legion’s team challenge victory is somewhat anti-climactic, as their individual fight record only clarifies their second place status – not enough individual fight wins to tie for first, but just enough to get out of push Team Spain to third place. Conversely, World Team’s sole win of the night simply anchors Team Japan down to share last place.

Next week, Team Korea and Team France meet in America’s heartland of Kansas City, MO, at the first M-1 Challenge event in the U.S.

M-1 Challenge TV Report: Team USA vs. Team France

Posted in M-1 Challenge, TV Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2008 by jaytan716

Tonight, Group A is the battleground, as Team France squares off against Team USA.  Victory for Team USA, who is currently in last place, would put them in a 1-1 three-way tie with Team Red Devil and, ironically enough, Team France.  If victorious, Team France will jump to first or second place (depending on individual match records) with a 2-0 record.

This meet originally took place on July 17th of this year at the internationally-renowned Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.  On the mic to call the match action are M-1 Challenge’s English announcers Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smith.

Lightweight Division:  David Gardner (Team USA) vs. Samuel Judes (Team France)

David Gardner (14-8-1) is a journeyman fighter who now is based with Team Quest.  Samuel Judes (3-1) is a judo expert.

Round One:  Gardner has an obvious height advantage, probably by four inches.  He drops Judes with a solid right hand and takes the Frenchman’s back on the mat.  Judes turtles up and waits, but eventually gets up again.  Judes shoots in for a single leg in the corner, which Gardner uses to work for a standing kimura, eventually taking the fight to the ground.  Gardner is throwing punches from Judes’ guard.  Judes tries to use the ropes for leverage, seemingly unaware that this is illegal.  Judes escapes and goes for another single leg, but Gardner stuffs it and takes back control, dropping short right hammerfists.  Gardner is happy punishing Judes with strikes, but isn’t making much progress.  Referee Daisuke Noguchi restarts the match in the middle.  Gardner continues his assault until Judes flattens out and goes limp with his head under the ropes.  Noguchi stops the match at 3:38 in the first round,

Team U.S. chalks up the first win, 1-0.

Welterweight Division:  Jake Ellenberger (Team USA) vs. Farouk Lakebir (Team France)

Jake Ellenberger is another gun-for-hire fighter who’s enjoyed some high profile notoriety with matches in the IFL and BodogFIGHT.  Jake went 12-0 after his 2005 debut before losing a close decision to Jay Hieron in 2006.  Since then, Jake has earned TKO victories over the likes of Zach Light, Ryan Stout, Gil Castillo, and even a KO of Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons in November 2007.

One inherent disadvantage for Team France is that MMA is not yet legal in their country, forcing aspiring fighters to train and get matches outside their homeland.  This probably shouldn’t come as a big surprise, given France’s reputation as “the Country of Human Rights.”  As such, Lakebir, nicknamed “Paco,” has made Holland his home base for training.

Ellenberger and Lakebir burst out of the gate swinging.  Ellenberger gets rocked with a powerful overhand right, but he buys some recovery time with a clinch and high knees to the body.  The two fall to the ground and get up again in the clinch.  Very exciting first round action.  Ellenberger imposes his will on Lakebir with a clinch in the corner and high knees.  Lakebir unsuccessfully tries to counter with a single leg.  Ellenberger takes it to the ground with a spinning armdrag takedown.  Lakebir has no answers at this point and is simply holding on, hoping for a stand-up.  Sure enough, they’re back on their feet, but Ellenberger scores another takedown just as quickly and keeps the pressure on Lakebir to the round’s end.

Round Two:  Both fighters are clearly aware of who won the first round, as Ellenberger is composed, while Lakebir looks rabidly for an opening.  They trade leg strikes.  There’s not a lot of power behind Lakebir’s shots, but they’re far more prevalent.  Ellenberger catches Lakebir with an effective knee to the chin, but isn’t able to finish him off, and accepts half-guard control.  Referee Noichi Takamura orders a stand-up, which gives us some more leg kicks and punch combinations, but once again, Ellenberger takes it to the mat.  Lakebir shows some submission skills for the first time with a kimura.  He gains top control and is working ground-and-pound combinations and a rear naked choke, but it’s too little too late, as round two ends with the bell.  Judges award the match to Ellenberger via majority decision, with one judge calling it a draw

Team U.S. is up 2-0.

Middleweight Division:  Mike Dolce (Team USA) vs. Karl Amoussou (Team France)

The theme of this match is age vs. experience, as both these men come in with the same number of matches, but Amoussou has a ten-year youth advantage over Dolce (who, in his own right, is the strength and conditioning coach for Team Quest).  Amoussou, nicknamed “Psycho,” is a fan of head games, as he stars Dolce down with a homicidal stare ala Wanderlei Silva.  This is gonna be good.

It’s firsts of fury from the get-go as Amoussou drops Dolce with a wicked combination and goes for the kill with heavy ground-and-pound assault.  The ground fighting gets caught in the ropes several times, leading to restarts in the middle.  Finally, the fight resumes on its feet, and once again, Dolce and Amoussou swing for the fences.  Dolce scores a double-leg takedown, which results in another restart in the middle.  Amoussou goes for a triangle choke, but Dolce escapes and keeps the pressure on with steady ground-and-pound.  Another stand-up restart.  By now, Amoussou is clearly fatigued.  Both fighters are more selective with their shots, but Dolce still has gas in his tank.  Amoussou trips Dolce a few times with some low kicks, but doesn’t capitalize on them.  Ding.

Round Two:  Amoussou is squinting in his left eye, indicating some vision problems, but he doesn’t shy away from attacking with high kicks.  Amoussou scores a solid right kick to the body, which Dolce instinctively no-sells.  Seconds later, the pain kicks in, as Dolce turns his back and waves the Frenchman away.  Amoussou, unsure if the paperwork is fully signed on this match, pounces on Dolce with punches, but the ref jumps in quickly and ends the match.

Team France gets on the board with their first win of the night.

Light Heavyweight Division:  Barry Guerin (Team USA) vs. Christian M’Pumbu (Team France)

M’Pumbu, a Zaire native who was raised in France, comes in with an impressive 9-1 record, with six of those wins by submission.  He made his debut in mid-2004 and didn’t fight again until March 2006, but has been on a tear since then.  Barry Guerin is a Detroit native who now resides fulltime in Tokyo.  He teaches from his extensive background in martial arts, including taekwondo, jiu-jitsu, and pankration.

Round One:  Guerin is jumpy from the start, possibly in part because of the M’Pumbu’s huge height and reach advantage.  Guerin overcommits to an overhand right that misses by a mile.  The momentum sends him spinning to the mat.  M’Pumbu jumps on Guerin and throws ground-and-pound flurries until the expat American taps out at 32 seconds into the first round.

With the meet tied at 2-2, the meet victory comes down to the heavyweights.

Heavyweight Division: James Jack (Team USA) vs. Malick N’diaye (Team France)

Between weight and win-loss records, this looks to be a fairly even match.  James Jack is an MMA rookie in 2008, but he’s kept a very busy pace, going into this match with a 2-1 record.  N’diaye (1-1), is building his MMA record on the lower-level circuit in Japan, although both of his previous matches were in 2006.  Both are hovering around the 265 lb. heavyweight limit, with Jack at 263 lbs. and N’diaye at 271.

Round One:  Jack shoots for, and scores, a takedown, but N’diaye is quick to try for a  guillotine.  Jacks gets side mount and works for a keylock.  Unsuccessful, he moves to the side mount and drops hammerfists and elbows.  N’diaye doesn’t have an answer from bottom, but he does escape to his feet.  Jack shoots for takedowns several times, but N’diaye ends up on top each time.  Finally. N’diaye falls into half-mount and sinks in an Americana for the tap at 3:54 in the first round.

Team France snatches victory from the jaws of defeat, 3-2.

Best Match**: Mike Dolce vs. Karl Amoussou

Worst Match**: Barry Guerin vs. Christian M’Pumbu

** (based on footage aired)

It was a good night for Team France, who came back from a 0-2 individual match deficit to win their second team victory 3-2, subsequently moving them into second place in Group A.  Ironically enough, Team USA’s two individual match victories for the night push them out of last place, leapfrogging over Team Korea.  However, this moral victory could be short-lived, as the Koreans still have another team meet before the standings are truly even.  Similarly, top-ranked Team Finland has an artificial advantage over their Group A compatriots, as they are the only team with three meets under their belts.

Next week, Team Holland vs. Team Japan.

M-1 Challenge: Team Spain vs. Team Russia Legion

Posted in M-1 Challenge, TV Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2008 by jaytan716

Last week, the Team Finland vs. Team Red Devil meet aired several weeks ahead of its scheduled broadcast.  However, tonight continues the chronological sequence, as Team Spain takes on Team Russia Legion for third place in Group B.

Currently, Team Spain is tied for second place with Team Japan, standing 1-0 in team challenges and 3-2 in individual matches.  Team Russia Legion is just behind the pair, standing 0-1 in team challenges and 2-3 in individual matches.  A victory for Team Russia Legion would shift them into a three-way tie with Team Spain and reigning top dog Team Holland, pushing Team Japan to fourth place.  A dominating match performance of 4-1 or better would solidify Russia Legion’s second place status in individual matches, which could be just enough of an edge to help them usurp Team Holland from the #1 spot.  For Team Spain, victory will propel them to the top of the overall team standings.

This meet originally took place on June 27th of this year in St. Petersburg, Russia.  As always, announcers Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smith are on-hand to call the matches.

Lightweight Division:  Carlos Valeri (Team Spain) vs. Yuri Ivlev (Team Russia Legion)

Although Carlos Valeri has an experience advantage by five matches, his Achilles heel is in defending against submissions, having lost at least five times to chokes and armbars.  Yuri Ivlev’s previous match was an explosive bout that he conceded to Daisuke Nakamura.by decision.

Round One:  Valeri has a significant height and reach advantage over Ivlev, which illustrates a recurring “David vs. Goliath” that will play out for the rest of the night.  Regardless, Ivlev, a judo and sambo expert, is unphased, and attacks with a flurry of strikes, including a surprise spinning back kick to the head.  Valeri is trying to get control of the pace of the match, but Ivlev sticks with his fundamentals and takes Valeri down with a textbook hip toss.  Ivlev opts to keep the match standing. Once Valeri is on his feet again, Ivlev attacks with another combination of strikes and subsequent hip toss, right into an armbar.  Valeri doesn’t even try to fight it before he taps out at 2:31 of the first round.  Awesome finish.

This is what an MMA Jamie Noble would look like, if he were booked to win.

Team Russia Legion is on the boards 1-0.

Welterweight Division:  Juan Manuel “Juanma” Suarez (Team Spain) vs. Islam Karimov (Team Russia Legion)

“Juanma” Suarez is undefeated, with a series of victories prior making his M-1 debut in May.  Islam Karimov, a sambo and karate expert, hopes to redeem himself after a TKO loss to Team Japan’s Ken Hamamura.

Round One:  Again, Suarez towers over Karimov.  But Karimov takes the fight to Suarez, forcing him into the corner with a front kick and punch combination.  Suarez jumps into guard, but Karimov controls the momentum and slams Suarez onto the mat.  The next few minutes are a jiu-jitsu chess match, as Suarez works for triangles and armbars, both off his back and in mid-air, as Karimov attempts another slam escape.  Suarez is meticulous with his grappling, but Karimov, for his part, is composed and doesn’t flinch at the sign of danger.  Finally, Suarez sweeps Karimov, gets his hooks in, and attacks from above with submission attempts and ground-and-pound openings.  Suarez gets to his feet briefly, but then passes guard and takes mount control just as the round ends.

This is a great jiu-jitsu demonstration for the uninitiated fan.  Round One goes to Suarez for the ground dominance.

Round Two:  Karimov quickly drops Suarez with a kick-overhand right combination.  Suarez goes back to the well and tries to jump guard, but Karimov has learned his lesson and works to keep the fight standing.  Karimov peppers kicks to Suarez’ legs.  Suarez finally gets up and lands some rights, driving Karimov back.  Another jump guard against the ropes.  Referee Victor Korniev orders a stand up.  Suarez campaigns for a position restart in the middle of the ring, arguing that he was attempting a submission.  Great success for Suarez!  Kimura, sweep, stand-up.  Jump guard, sweep attempt.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  Karimov grounds Suarez to the mat with a waist clinch until the round runs out.  As expected, Suarez takes the decision.

Team Spain ties the meet at 1-1.

Middleweight Division:  Eulogio Fernandez (Team Spain) vs. Ansar Chalangov (Team Russia Legion)

Eulogio Fernandez makes his MMA debut tonight.  Ansar Chalangov, a two-time UFC veteran from 2005-2006, was caught in a rear naked choke in his last M-1 Challenge match.  Aside from the obvious experience gap, the difference is a wash.

Round One:  Fernandez is jumpy and nervous.  Chalangov wants his redemption.  He shoots for a double-leg takedown and bulls Fernandez into the corner.  Fernandez keeps a tight guard on the ground, but Chalangov works from the feet, going for a standing toehold in the corner.  He gets caught in the ropes slightly, but Fernandez taps at 1:20 of the first round.  Chalangov breaks his 4-match losing streak.

Team Russia Legion regains the meet lead, 2-1.

Light Heavyweight Division:  Rafael Rodriguez (Team Spain) vs. Besike Gerinava (Team Russia Legion)

Rafael Rodriguez has several more matches under his belt than Besike Gerinava, but the Russian sports an unblemished 5-0 record.  Gerinava has strong takedown skills and is dangerous on the ground.  His previous outing was a decision victory against Yuji Sakuragi.

I didn’t remember Gerinava being so hairy in his match against Sakuragi.  Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, which makes Gerinava a Wookie.

Round One:  Rodriguez replaces Spanish MMA star Daniel Tavera in M-1 competition.  Gerinava charges Rodriguez and takes him down.  Rodriguez, who’s sporting a Dingo Warrior-style armband tied around his right arm, closes guard and keeps a clinch on the ground.  Gerinava escapes the guard and stands up.  Both try for leglocks.  Rodriguez sinks in a guillotine choke in the corner and weathers a Gerinava slam to the mat.  The Russian finally escapes the choke and opens guard with a can opener.  Gerinava takes side control, then the back, and sinks in a rear naked choke before Rodriguez taps at 4:57 of the round.  Jimmy Smith comments that with seconds left in a round, it’s better to pass out and hope to beat the clock rather than tap.  Clearly, Rodriguez’s strategy was “let the Wookie win.”

Team Russia Legion clocks in their third win, securing the team victory, 3-1.

Heavyweight Division:  Rogent Lloret (Team Spain) vs. Akmed Sultanov (Team Russia Legion)

Rogent Lloret is a relative newcomer to the sport, but he’s already fought outside his home country, taking on far more experienced competition (including Jared Hamman and Brazil’s Edson Paredao).  Sultanov (3-0) is a wrestler who scored a quick armbar victory against Katsuhisa Fujii.

Round One:  The two heavyweights feel each other out before clinching up.  Lloret trips Sultanov to the ground, working eventually to full mount.  He spins for an armbar, but Sultanov escapes.  They scramble for position, but Lloret ends up back in Sultanov’s guard, then side mount.  Lloret’s record betrays his skills, as he is very composed and adept on the ground.  Lloret wins the round for control, striking, and submission attempts.

Round Two:  As could be expected, Lloret is more relaxed, while Sultanov seems jarred.   Sultanov tags Lloret nicely with a hard right, but quickly gets taken down again.  Sultanov attempts a leglock, but Lloret takes full mount and starts to drop bombs.  Sultanov creates distance from the ground by arching his back with accompanying body lock.  Lloret tries unsuccessfully for an Americana; he’s able to keep full mount with little threat of being swept, but his ground and pound isn’t effective enough to finish the big Russian.  Lloret works from above to the bell, walking away with a decision win.

Team Spain has the last laugh with the heavyweight moral victory, but Team Russian Legion wins the meet, 3-2.

Best Match**: Carlos Valeri vs. Yuri Ivlev

Worst Match**: Rogent Lloret vs. Akmed Sultanov

**(based on footage aired)

Now two months in, it’s fair to say that M-1 Challenge, as pre-taped one-hour MMA programming, is far superior to predecessors like IFL and BodogFIGHT.  Editing five matches into less than 60 minutes while keeping the integrity of the event is not an easy task.  That said, M-1 Challenge has provided great back-and-forth MMA action, especially considering that there are no household names fighting.  Announce team Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smith are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about what’s going on in the ring.  Their chemistry is the best this side of Goldberg and Rogan.

For those of you in the Kansas City, MO area, M-1-sanctioned action comes to the U.S. at Harrahs Voodoo Lounge on Wednesday, October 29th.  Two meets will occur: Team Japan vs.Team Spain and Team South Korea vs. Team France, as well as UFC / Affliction veteran Whitehead and hometown hero Bobby Voelker in superfight action.  Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 816-931-3330.  Visit http://www.TitanEntertainment.com for more information.

Next week, Team USA takes on Team France, from Tokyo, Japan.