ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (February 28, 2014) – Undefeated Estonian heavyweight Denis Smoldarev (6-0-0) earned a M-1 Global title fight shot by defeating Ante “Walking Trouble” Delija (8-2-0) in tonight’s main event, headlining M-1 Challenge 45, at Atmosphere Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Known as “The Brock Lesnar of Estonia,” the 6′ 5″, 266 ½ pound Smoldarev is now positioned to fight the winner of the M-1 Global heavyweight championship fight, March 14 at M-1 Challenge 46, between reigning champion Damian “Polish Pitbull” Grabowski (19-1-0) and challenger Marcin “Tybur” Tybura (9-0-0).
The 6′ 4″, 247-pound Delija had a successful throw and took Smoldarev’s back to start a great first round of action. Smoldarev moved to Delija’s guard, working from the top, and unleashed a volley of strong punches and leg kicks on the Croatian.
Smoldarev came out for the second round throwing a good left but Delija quickly went to the ground, taking Smoldarev’s back and transitioning to a heel hook. It wasn’t tight enough and then Smoldarev took the top position, firing strikes and then locked in an “Americana.” Delija let out a scream that the referee considered a verbal submission and ended the fight. Delijia protested to no avail.
M-1 Global lightweight champion Musa Khamanaev (14-3-0) outclassed Ukrainian fighter Vladimir Nikolaev (10-2-0) in their non-title fight. Khamanaev opened with a series of effective strikes and then, using his superior wrestling skills, the Russian took down Nikolaev whose nose was bloodied as he held on for his fighting life. Khamanaev overwhelmed Nikolaev, who was unable to escape, with strong strikes off his powerful ground-and-pound attack. The referee stopped the fight in the second round for a TKO win by Khamanaev.
In an upset, Russian middleweight Rashid Yusupov (3-2-0) won a decision over Brazilian veteran Charles “Gracie” Andrade (27-16-0). Yusupov, a striker, escaped a Kimura attempt by Andrade early in the first round and went on to dominate the first five minutes of the fight. Outside of one successful Andrade takedown, Yusupov spent most of the second round in Andrade’s closed guard. The trend continued in the final round as Yusupov started with a short stand-up and takedown, in which there was little activity until the final minute of the fight when both fighters were back on their feet. Yusupov landed some good strikes and kicks, highlighted by a spinning back-kick, to close the show.
Russian lightweight Alexander “Iron Capture” Butenko (34-9-0) won a war of attrition in a battle of season veterans against Niko Puhakka (28-15-0), of Finland. Puhakka suffered a cut over his eye in the opening round that freely flowed during the entire fight. Butenko was unable to submit the game Finn but he was in complete control en route to a solid win by decision.
In an exciting match of skilled grapplers, Russian welterweight Ilya Doderkin (4-0-0) remained undefeated, as Nenad “Nino” Avramovich (0-2-0), of Spain, submitted in the second round. The action was fast and furious as the two fighters constantly changed positions until Doderkin suddenly slapped on a triangle hold, resulting in his impressive victory.
Striking prevailed over grappling as Sergei Andreev (6-2-0) took a decision from fellow Russian lightweight Rahman Makhazhiev (1-1-0). Throughout the fight, Andreev wanted to fight on his feet and go for a knockout, while Makhadzhiev preferred fighting on the mat to try for a submission.
Russian featherweight Yunus Evloev (13-6-0) outlasted his Ukrainian opponent, Vitali Branchuk (13-4-0), for a hard fought decision in a back-and-forth match from start to finish.
Oleg Misikov (2-0-0) used his physical superiority over fellow Russian lightweight Ivan Getman (1-1-0) to a dominant first-round round stoppage. The referee halted the action early as Misikov landed powerful, unanswered strikes.
Russian lightweight Kurbanali Abdusalamov (3-2-0) ruined the professional debut of Alejandro Kratz-Ferrer (0-1-0), trapping the Spanish fighter in a mount position and punching away until Kratz-Ferrer tapped out in the opening round.
Ukrainian lightweight Oleg Khachaturov (1-1-0) won his first professional fight by decision as his ground-and-pound attack was too much for pro-debuting St. Petersburg fighter Alexander Korneev (0-1-0) to handle.
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