Over the past year, no M-1 Global fighter’s stock has risen as much as Artiom Damkovsky’s has.
Entering 2010, Damkovsky had gone 2-2 in his last four bouts and it wasn’t clear what direction his future was headed.
Damkovsky responded by having the best year of his career, first by winning the M-1 Selection Eastern European Lightweight Grand Prix, and then by capping off 2010 by taking the promotion’s 155-pound world championship.
“Last year seemed to fly by,” Damkovsky told MMAWeekly.com. “I had three tough fights to win the Selections tournament – all going to decision – and a war with (Mairbek) Taisumov to win the lightweight belt.
“Each round added more experience and I fought from every position (in the advantage, at a disadvantage, in trouble, and in control). Continually being tested has helped me evolve into a more mature, confident fighter.”
Understandably, Damkovsky’s title win was the perfect ending to a grueling year, and he intends to make sure he’s deserving of such an accomplishment.
“I was really happy about it,” he said. “I worked so hard and trained so hard to capture this goal and it was such an overwhelming feeling to achieve it.
“I feel a sense of responsibility to my fans; a need to defend. I can feel that many people believe in me and my abilities and I’m not going to let them down!”
Damkovsky’s first title defense will come on Friday, March 25, as part of M-1 Global’s historic first live event on Showtime. According to Damkovsky, history is something he’s used to being a part of with the promotion and he will make the most of his opportunity.
“I’m already in M-1’s history as their first ever lightweight champion, (and) I hope that (March) 25 will be another successful page in my career,” he stated. “Being part of M-1’s debut show on Showtime is also an honor; I want to put on a great show for fans in America.
“Many will be seeing me for the first time, and (I want to) leave them with a strong impression of the level of European fighters. Putting on an excellent fight will also show the fans that M-1 puts on entertaining shows.”
Damkovsky’s first title defense will come against American Top Team prospect Jose Figueroa in a fight that may be more a clash of physical differences than fight styles.
“Obviously his height is a big advantage, which will pose a challenge, but I’ve trained hard to prepare for this and will neutralize it,” said Damkovsky.
“As for his weaknesses, (he is very well-rounded and) there is nothing specific, but it appears he doesn’t possess any single outstanding characteristic in is his fighting style.”
After a breakout year that saw him rise to the top of M-1’s lightweight division, Damkovsky’s plan for 2011 is simple: keep winning and keep it entertaining.
“I’m very grateful for the support of all my fans. I will do my best to not to let them down and put on a great fight,” he concluded. “It’s an honor to travel to the U.S. for the first time and fight in front of an American crowd and on Showtime. Thank you to M-1 for this opportunity.
“The goal is to have a minimum of two successful title defenses in awesome battles.”