The new breed of MMA heavyweights, M-1 Global Heavyweight contender Denis Smoldarev, will be unleashed February 28 in the main event of M-1 Challenge 45 against Ante “Walking Trouble” Delija, at Atmosphere Show Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia.
M-1 Challenge 45 will air live on Russia 2, the terrestrial channel, throughout Russia and the Commonwealth of Individual States (CIS), as well as across the Middle East on Abu Dhabi Sports Channels.
Smoldarev (5-0-0, 2 KO/TKO, 1 SUB), known as “The Brock Lesner of Estonia,” battles the man billed as the next great Croatian MMA star, Delila (9-1-0, 3 KO/TKO, 1 SUB), in a M-1 Global title elimination fight to determine the No. 1 heavyweight contender.
Standing 6′ 5″ and tipping the scales at 250-pounds, Smoldarev (pictured to left) is a physically imposing athlete who was the heavyweight winner of the M-1 Selection Grand Prix. Only 24 years old, he advanced to the semifinals of the 2013 M-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix but was forced out of the competition only two days prior to his scheduled fight due to a knee injury.
“I definitely consider myself a new generation of MMA fighter, as diversified as possible,” said Smoldarev, who started studying judo at the age of 12. “I can fight both on my feet and wrestle on the ground. I prefer to win via decision but always look forward to an error my opponent makes so I can finish him early, if possible. I believe I’ve already made an impact in my first few fights.”
At 6′ 4 ¾” and 230-pounds, Delila has stopped all nine of his defeated opponents within the distance. “He is tall, strong, heavy, fast and versatile,” Smoldarev noted. “Overall, he is a very good opponent. We’re going to go at it!”
The main event between Smoldarev and Delila (pictured to right) also has world title implications with the coveted M-1 Global top heavyweight contender position on the line. This summer the Smoldarev-Delila winner will most likely fight for the M-1 Global Heavyweight Championship, against either defending champion Damian Grabowski or his upcoming challenger Marcin Tybura.
“I recently found out about this but I don’t feel any pressure,” Smoldarev spoke about his title eliminator fight with Delilja. “I think that I will deserve to fight for the title with a victory in this fight. Either fighter (Grabowski or Tybura) will be a good opponent.”
The M-1 Challenge 45 undercard is loaded with many of the best MMA fighters in the world battling in five Super Fights.
Finnish star and M-1 Global lightweight title challenger Nikko Puhakka (28-14-0, 5 KO/TKO, 8 SUB) faces undefeated Russian kick-boxing specialist, hot prospect Maxim Divnich (7-0-0, 4 KO/TKO). Spanish welterweight Daniel “The Gladiator” Tabera (17-5-3, 4 KO/TKO, 7 SUB) meets unbeaten Russian Sambo Master Ilya Doderkin (3-0, 3 SUB).
Former M-1 Global light heavyweight Marcin Zontek (12-8-0, 6 KO/TKO, 5 SUB), of Poland, takes on 20-year-old Russian striker Rashid Yusupov (2-2-0, 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB). Bulgarian featherweight prospect Sotir Kichukov (12-1, 2 KOs, 7 SUB) brings his seven-fight win streak into his throw-down with Russian grappling artist Yunus Evloev (12-6-0, 4 KO/TKO, 6 SUB).
Rakhman Makhadzhiev (1-0-0, 1 SUB), a standout grappler, fights wrestling specialist Sergey Andreev (5-2-0, 2 SUB) in a match-up between a talented pair of 23-year-old Russian lightweights.
All fights and fighters are subject to change.
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ABOUT M-1 GLOBAL:
Founded in 1998, M-1 Global has established itself in the realm of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as the premiere entity for discovering and developing the world’s next-generation of superstar fighters. With offices in St Petersburg, Amsterdam and Los Angeles and affiliates in Seoul, Tokyo and Paris, the M-1 brand has staged more than 150 events worldwide, including the M-1 Selection, M-1 Challenge and M-1 Gobal and M-1 Global HWGP events, in addition to co-promoting Strikeforce events and M-1 Global on the Showtime network in the United States. Captivating live, television and broadband audiences with its superior production values and matchups, M-1 Global events have featured some of the sport’s top names, including Fedor Emelianenko, Andrei Arlovski, Aleksander Emelianenko, Gegard Mousasi, Alistair Overeem, Keith Jardine, Ben Rothwell, Melvin Manhoef, Roman Zentsov, Yushin Okami, Mike Pyle, Denis Kang, Martin Kampmann, Amar Suloev, Chalid Arrab and Stephan Struve. 2014 promises to be another sensational year of world-class competition with a full calendar of Challenge events fuelled by a talent-rich contention system ranking M-1 Global’s Champions amongst the greatest in the sport. M-1 Global’s greatest asset is renowned heavyweight fighter, Fedor Emelianenko.