Press Release courtesy of M-1 Global
SAU PAULO, Brazil – After losing to Team USA West by a 3-2 margin during the season opener of the 2009 “M-1 Challenge Presented by Affliction,” losing at home in their second head-to-head series was not an option for Team Brazil.

However, matched up with the 2008 defending M-1 Challenge Cup Champions Team Imperial, Brazil felt the need to change four of its five fighters heading into Saturday’s “Fourth Edition” of the 2009 M-1 Challenge from the Ginasio Esporte Club Sirio in Sau Paulo, Brazil.

Led by former IFL superfight veteran Eduardo Pamplona, the team’s lone holdover from the opener, Brazil swept Imperial by a score of 5-0. Pamplona earned “Fight of the Night” honors after improving his record to 11-2 following his majority decision victory over BodogFIGHT veteran Erik Oganov (9-10).

Prior to Pamplona’s fight contested in the M-1 Challenge welterweight division, Brazilian prospect Hacran Dias preserved his perfect record (11-0-1) after submitting Amirkhan Mazikhov (1-1), the first-ever graduate of the M-1 Selection fight series.

The M-1 Selection was created with the intent to established qualifiers for the 2010 M-1 Challenge. However, Mazikhov received the promotion to the M-1 Challenge sooner than anticipated after an injury replacement was needed for Mikhail Malyutin.

With big shoes to fill, Mazikhov held tough in the early going before Dias took control of the fight by submitting Mazikhov with a rear naked choke at 3:58 of round 1.

The Brazilians clinched the best-of-five series to move to 1-1 on the season after middleweight Leandro “Batata” Silva (14-5) was victorious over Dmitry Samoilov (7-4-1).

Down 3-0, the Imperial Team needed to try and salvage the final two fights in order to keep their playoff hopes alive in the all-important individual victories tie-breaking category. Mikhail Zayats (8-3), one of the top fighters during the 2008 M-1 Challenge, was primed and positioned to bounce back from his shocking season opening loss in February to South Korea’s Jae Young Kim.

Once again this was not Zayats’ night, as Machado won a three-round unanimous decision, marking the first-time in the Russian light heavyweight’s career that he has suffered consecutive losses.

Heavyweights Joaquim Ferreria (Brazil) and Maksim Grishin (Imperial) were the last two fighters to take the stage with Ferreira (8-2) allowing Brazil to complete the 5-0 sweep over Imperial after submitting Grishin, another graduate of the M-1 Selection, with a North-South choke at 3:57 of round 1.

With the 5-0 victory, Brazil took sole possession of second place in Group B. With a 1-1 challenge record and an individual record of 7-3, a second Brazil victory coupled with a loss for Team USA West could put Brazil in a position to qualify for a post-season berth.

In the night’s second team challenge, Russia Legion supplanted Germany for first place in Pool D by defeating the Germans by a score of 4-1. The end result was quite disappointing for a German team that recorded a 5-0 victory over Turkey in Bourgas, Bulgaria this past March.

Kicking it off for Legion was steady veteran Yura Ivlev (7-5), who forced Franco de Leonardis (11-4) to tap out to knee strikes on the ground at 2:14 of round 1. Legion then moved to 2-0 following Magomed Shihshabekov’s knockout of Sven Heising. Shihshabekov also defeated Jason Ponet of the World Team during March’s event in Bulgaria and now holds a perfect 3-0 record.

Down 2-0, Gregor Herb kept the Germans’ hopes alive after submitting Sergey Kornev at 4:32 of round 1. It was a quick and dramatic comeback for Herb, who was losing the round and appeared to be running low on energy before catching Kornev in an armbar.

Unfortunately, Germany’s hopes of a comeback were dashed by Legion light heavyweight Gadzmyrat Omarov, who improved to 4-0 after submitting last-minute replacement Ismail Centikaya.

Despite having clinched it team challenge vs. Germany, Legion still needed to notch an additional individual win to take over first place. Enter heavyweight Akhmed Sultanov (4-3), who submitted German heavyweight Lars Klug (1-3) with an armbar at just 1:21 of round 1.

The fourth edition of the M-1 Challenge opened with an upset, as Bulgaria won a 3-2 head-to-head challenge match with Team Benelux.

Benelux, an amalgamation of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, was a finalist in the 2008 M-1 Challenge under its previous identity, Team Holland. After being upset in Tacoma this past February vs. Finland during the season opener, Benelux was favored to defeat a Bulgaria team that lost 5-0 to Team USA East in its home country this past March. However, it was Bulgaria that was the team able to redeem itself and not Benelux.

Things started off poorly for Benelux after Danny van Bergen (7-4-3) was submitted by Yanko Yanev despite dominating the fight with strikes administered from the top position. However, Yanev had a slipper guard and tried numerous submission attempts from the bottom before eventually catching Yanev with armbar at 2:23 of round 1. Yanev improved to 7-1 after suffering his first professional lost in March against jiu-jitsu ace Renato Migliaccio.

There was a brief momentum change during the welterweight matchup between Benelux and Bulgaria, when Raymond Jarman (10-8) landed a beautiful flying knee to Ivan Ivanov (5-1), earning himself a TKO victory just 35 seconds into the fight.

Former UFC veteran and one-time Bulgarian national wrestling team member Jordan Radev (19-4) put Bulgaria back in front following a unanimous decision victory over Danny Smit.

Despite a 2-1 lead, Bulgaria was still an unlikely candidate to complete the victory with Benelux’s two best fighters, Jason Jones and Jessie Gibbs, still slated to compete. However, Jones (8-7) suffered his second loss of the season after a doctor forced a stop to his light heavyweight encounter vs. Emil Samoilov (4-0-1) due a doctor’s stoppage as a result of excessive blood from Jones’ nose.

Despite having been guaranteed a team loss, a rejuvenated Gibbs enacted a measure of revenge for his Benelux teammates. After missing the team’s February opener, Gibbs (7-2) needed just 1:37 to submit Nikola Dipchkov (0-1) at 1:37 of round 1.

The fifth edition of the M-1 Challenge is scheduled to take place on Friday, June 5 in Kansas City, MO with Team USA East returning to action against Finland. Lineup information will be released soon at www.M-1Global.com, with updated results and current team standings currently available at the site as well.

Official Results of Saturday’s M-1 Challenge Event:

Team Challenge Number One: Bulgaria vs. Benelux –

1. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Yanko Yanev (Bulgaria) def. Danny van Bergen (Benelux) via submission (armbar) at 2:23 of round 1
2. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Raymond Jarman (Benelux) def. Ivan Ivanov (Bulgaria) via TKO (flying knee) at 0:35 of round 1
3. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Jordan Radev (Bulgaria) def. Danny Smit (Benelux) via unanimous decision
4. Light Heavyweight (204.6 lbs./-93 kg): Emil Samoilov (Bulgaria) def. Jason Jones (Benelux) via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 2:09 of round 1
5. Heavyweight: (204.7 lbs.-plus/+93 kg): Jessie Gibbs (Benelux) def. Nikola Dipchkov (Bulgaria) submission (strikes) at 1:37 of round 1

Bulgaria defeats Benelux 3-2

Team Challenge Number Two: Russia Legion vs. Germany –

6. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Yura Ivlev (Legion) def. Franco de Leonardis (Germany) via TKO (strikes) at 2:14 of round 2
7. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Magomed Shihshabekov (Legion) def. Sven Heising (Germany) via knockout (strikes) at 4:27 of round 1
8. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Gregor Herb (Germany) def. Sergey Kornev (Legion) via submission (armbar) at 4:32 of round 1
9. Light Heavyweight (204.6 lbs./-93 kg): Gadzimyrat Omarov (Legion) def. Ismail Centinkaya (Germany) via submission (strikes) at 1:09 of round 1
10. Heavyweight: (204.7 lbs.-plus/+93 kg): Akhmed Sultanov (Legion) def. Lars Klug (Germany) via submission (armbar) at 1:21 of round 1

Russia Legion defeats Germany 4-1

Team Challenge Number Three: Brazil vs. Team Imperial –

11. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Hacran Dias (Brazil) def. Amirkhan Mazikhov (Imperial) via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:58 of round 1
12. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Eduardo Pamplona def. Erik Oganov (Imperial) via majority decision
13. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Leandro Silva (Brazil) def. Dmitry Samoilov (Imperial) via three-round unanimous decision
14. Light Heavyweight (204.6 lbs./-93 kg): Alexander Machado (Brazil) def. Mikhail Zayats (Imperial) via three round unanimous decision
15. Heavyweight: (204.7 lbs.-plus/+93 kg): Joaquim Ferreira (Brazil) def. Maksim Grishin (Imperial) via submission (North-South Choke) at 3:57 of round 1

Brazil defeats Imperial Team 5-0