One week after M-1 Global kicked off its "M-1 Selection: Americas" tournament, the organization returns home to Russia for the start of the 40-man "Eastern Europe" bracket.
And while the "Americas" edition focused on rising talent in the the Northeastern section of the U.S., the "Eastern Europe" bracket sees 22 fighters bring a combined MMA record of 142-26-1 (as well a trunk full of national and world championships in a variety of martial arts) to the Crocus Expo Universal Sports Arena in Moscow.
The entire event will stream free on MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on Saturday, April 10, at 11:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. PT.
The "M-1 Selection" tournament was originally conceived as a competition to find the best Russian fighters to represent Russia in the "M-1 Challenge" events. The success of the "M-1 Selection" in Russia led to its worldwide expansion in 2010.
In 2010, "M-1 Selection" events will take place in the Americas, Eastern Europe (expanded from its originally announced confinement to Russia), Western Europe and Asia. Forty fighters will begin the "M-1 Selection" process on each continent in a single-elimination tournament. The winners in each of the five weight classes (heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight) will represent their continent in the "M-1 Challenge."
Saturday's debut edition of "M-1 Selection: Eastern Europe" sees the Eastern Europe tournaments kick off in the welterweight and heavyweight divisions.
"M-1 Selection: Eastern Europe" welterweight grand prix
All four opening-round bouts in the eight-man welterweight tournament will be contested at Saturday's "M-1 Selection: Eastern Europe" event.
The welterweight grand prix begins with 22-year-old former UFO combat ***** champion Ramazan Abdulzhalilov (4-1) facing longtime M-1 veteran Said Khalilov (16-6).
Undefeated Red Devil fighter Radik Iboyan (5-0), a former ***** champion in his native Bashkortostan, faces three-time world combat ***** champion Shamil Zavurov (12-1). In addition to his world ***** titles, Zavurov is also a former san shou champion in his native Dagestan.
In the evening's third quarterfinal bout, undefeated former European pankration champion and former Ukranian san shou champion Vladimir Opanasenko (3-0) meets the tournament's most experienced competitor, Arsen Temirkhanov (16-1). Temerkhanov is a second-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has won a Russian title in the art. The 33-year-old is also a two-time European combat ***** champion and a two-time Russian Army hand-to-hand combat champion.
Rounding out the eight-man field is the 2009 "M-1 Selection" champion Rashid Magomedov (14-0) and 25-year-old RusFighters Sport Club product Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (12-2).
"M-1 Selection: Eastern Europe" heavyweight grand prix
Saturday's "M-1 Selection: Eastern Europe" event will also see the completion of the heavyweight tournament's first round with four quarterfinal matchups.
Undefeated 25-year-old fighter Arsen Abdulkerimov (5-0) meets heavyweight veteran Denis Komkin (14-4). Komkin is a former ***** and judo champion in his native Magadan Oblast.
Red Devil fighter and former Russian hand-to-hand combat champion Maxim Grishin (5-4) faces 23-year-old Gadzhimurad Nurmagomedov (5-1), a former World combat ***** silver medalist and Russian combat ***** champion.
Red Devil fighter Alexander Volkov (5-1), a karate stylist and former Moscow Ashihara karate champion faces 32-year-old Vitaly Yalovenko (3-1-1), a former Armed Forces judo champion and Russian judo and ***** champion.
The final heavyweight quarterfinal sees a pair of MMA newcomers as former world pankration champion Alexander Romaschenko (1-0) faces Russian tae kwon do champ Ruslan Stepanyan (1-0).
Reserve fight action
In addition to the eight tournament bouts, "M-1 Selection: Eastern Europe" will also see four reserve bouts contested in three different weight classes. The reserve fight winners are eligible to step into the tournament if a victorious fighter in the bracket is unable to continue on due to injury.
In the welterweight division, Bislan Etleshev (2-2) meets Anzor Kardanov (4-1).
In the light heavyweight division, Murad Magomedov (0-0) debuts against Ali Omarov, while Sergey Guzev (3-0) faces Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (9-1).
Finally, heavyweights Ibragim Ibragimov (1-0) and Valery Scherbakov (1-0) round out the fight card.