Amsterdam, Holland — M-1 Global (www.M-1Global.com) officially announced Monday morning that its August 28 “Breakthrough” event scheduled to be televised live in the U.S. has been moved from the Los Angeles Convention Center to the historic Memorial Hall in Kansas City.
“The change in venues is unfortunate, however, the change was necessitated due to circumstances beyond our control,” said M-1 Global Chief Operating Officer Joost Raimond. “We had a partner in Los Angeles that backed out of certain commitments. However, instead of letting fighters and fans down by cancelling the event, we worked diligently to find a new location in Kansas City. At no point in time did we entertain the idea of canceling our first ‘Breakthrough’ event.”
With the change in venue comes a change in the original main event, which had been set to feature “King” Mo Lawal and UFC veteran Don Frye. Frye has formally pulled out of the fight and has been replaced by another former NCAA Champion and All-American, Mark Kerr.
“Don Frye had a signed contract with M-1 and part of that signed commitment allowed us to change the venue if needed,” said Raimond. “From our perspective, Don should still be in this fight. However, for reasons that we aren’t exactly sure of, he has backed out. Don still has not provided us with a clear reason as to why he is refusing to fight.
“We’ve heard rumors that he wasn’t happy with the location change but our television partner, Mo Lawal, and every other fighter scheduled for the event are satisfied with Kansas City so why isn’t it good enough for Don? Don also fought just a few short months ago in Lubbock, Texas. It just doesn’t make sense because the old Don Frye was willing to fight anyone, anywhere, and at anytime. Perhaps the fire is gone and he underestimated the challenge that ‘King Mo’ presents?”
Lawal was also perplexed by Frye’s decision and even said during a recent YouTube interview that he’d fight himself if he had to at “M-1 Breakthrough.” Fortunately, Lawal will not have to do that, as Frye’s departure has created an opportunity for Kerr, a former star in both the UFC and PRIDE, to launch a comeback on a major platform.
“Kerr at one time was one of the best fighters on the planet,” M-1 Global Vice President of Live Events Joe Kelly said. “His fall from grace was documented publicly on the popular HBO documentary The Smashing Machine. A lot of people have written Mark Kerr off but if he’s able to beat Lawal on national television, suddenly he becomes a hot commodity again. Mark was already in training for a fight when we contacted him and I’m not exactly sure how hard Don was training. This will actually be a tougher fight for Lawal.”
In addition to Lawal vs. Kerr, “Breakthrough” will now also feature a sparring exhibition between Strikeforce fighters Fedor Emelianenko and Gegard Mousasi.
“We were blown away by just how popular Fedor’s exhibition vs. Aoki in Japan was,” said Raimond. “Fedor and Gegard have sparred many times together and the sessions have always been intense. Now fight fans watching on television and those attending live in Kansas City will get a rare glimpse at two of the best fighters in the world sparring each other.”
In addition to Lawal’s first-ever fight on U.S. soil versus Kerr and the sparring exhibition between Fedor and Mousasi, “M-1 Breakthrough’s” co-main event will feature French striking sensation Karl “Psycho” Amoussou vs. former BodogFIGHT champion Nick Thompson.
“M-1′s mission statement has been to develop new stars and bring them to the world stage,” Kelly began to say. “Karl just got back from Brazil, where he worked a lot with Wanderlei Silva and I am convinced that Amoussou is the next Wanderlei. However, Thompson is by far the toughest test he’s had to face and I am expecting a war.”
In addition to “Breakthrough” receiving an upgrade with the addition of Fedor vs. Mousasi, another enhancement has been made to the card as a grudge rematch between Lucio Linhares vs. Mikhail Zayats will now be featured. Linhares vs. Zayats II had been scheduled for the undercard of Affliction’s ill-fated “Trilogy” event.
“We liked the card we had planned for LA, but to be honest, we are now going to be presenting fans with an even better show than we had originally planned,” Kelly stated. “Linhares is one of the most underrated fighters on the planet. He could fight for any promotion in the world right now.”
In addition to the live televised fights, fans in attendance at Memorial Hall will be treated to a undercard showcasing some of the top up-and-coming talents from in and out of the Kansas City area. The undercard will feature the MMA debut of 2007 WKA Amateur Muay Thai champion Andria Caplan in a 145 lbs. women’s MMA fight. Tickets for the event will go on sale this Thursday at 10 a.m. CT at all local Ticketmaster outlets, at Ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.