Worldwide MMA Preview – M1 Challenge, Fight Nights and Bellator

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The action this weekend kicks off with M-1 Challenge 73 which begins at 3pm GMT on Friday. The main event is a title fight between two of the best middleweights in Russia as the champion Ramazan Emeev takes on Anatoly Tokov.

Emeev is in his second reign as M-1 champion, having dropped the title to Vyacheslav Vasilevsky before winning it back in a rematch and since then he has beaten Luigi Fioravanti and Maiquel Falcao to bring his record to 14-3. Tokov has an even more impressive record, his is 24-2 and he is currently on a 17 fight winning streak and he has had a good 2016. It began early with a fight on Rizin’s New Year show which he finished inside of a minute, he then went on to have an exciting back and forth fight with Arbi Aguev at ACB which he finished in the 4th round, he competed in Fight Nights only a month later and competing at M-1 this weekend means he will have fought for three different major promotions in Russia in the one year, not bad.

The winner of this fight will still have to beat Alexander Shlemenko to cement their status as the best middleweight in Russia, where the division really seems to be thriving right now.

Ivan Buchinger is defending his featherweight title in the co-main event against Magomed Idrisov. Buchinger has looked brilliant since losing to Conor McGregor on New Year’s Eve 2012, he has won 10 fights in a row and this run includes a victory over Stevie Ray where he regained his Cage Warriors lightweight title and a victory over then M-1 lightweight champion Mansour Barnaoui who dropped down to challenge Buchinger. Idrisov is a striker who comes from a Wushu/Sanda background and he has an MMA record of 6-0 but it is pretty good for a six fight record compiled in Russia. He beat current M-1 lightweight champion Alexander Butenko in his debut and he has been exposed to fighters who are experienced and well travelled.

Also in Russia on Friday is Fight Nights 56 and it is headlined by a middleweight fight between the unbeaten Vladimir Mineev taking on Maiquel Falcao. Mineev was an accomplished kickboxer before he transitioned to MMA and he has compiled an 8-0 record in his new sport. He had a step up in competition in his last outing when he took on Yasubey Enomoto and bested him by decision which was very promising for his progression in the sport. Falcao is a former Bellator tournament finalist but he has been operating as a journeyman over the past few years, he is coming off a win in his last fight which came in August in his home country of Brazil.

Bellator return to Italy on Saturday, Florence this time as they continue their international expansion. The card begins around 9pm GMT but won’t air on Spike in the US until much later in the night and if previous Bellator international shows are anything to go by, there will be no source to watch the fights live.

Italy’s own Alessio Sakara takes on Joey Beltran in the main event. Sakara spent a chunk of his career fighting at middleweight while Beltran has had plenty of fights at heavyweight, but this contest will take place at light heavyweight. Both of these guys are UFC veterans and it should be an exciting fight, but it lacks real relevance.

Also on the card is super prospect Ed Ruth, Ruth has an impressive wrestling pedigree as he became a three time national champion and a four time “All-American” while in college, he finished his first fight in the first round and is taking this bout on only a week’s notice. He is taking on Emanuele Palombi who has a 5-2 record with four finishes with all of his bouts coming on the Italian regional scene.