Kansas City M-1 Challenge took place last night at Harrah’s Casino. The M-1 Challenge is an international team competition for young talented upcoming fighters to gain experience and be given the opportunity to fight internationally. The most talented may be selected to participate in the major M-1 events. Teams consist of 5 members (one in each weight division being -70 kg, -76 kg, -84 kg, -93 kg and +93 kg and a coach.

Every region/country will bring forward a team that will compete against other teams in an international competition that will last throughout 2008 with a grand finale at the end of the year. There will be two poules of five teams to start with. In each poule the teams will fight every other team. The winners of the poules will then fight for the M-1 Championship.The teams in poule A are: Holland, Japan, Russian Legion, Spain and the World team. In poule B are: Finland, France, Korea, Red Devil and the USA.

For France the confrontation with Korea in Kansas city was of utmost importance. If they won they would take the lead in Poule A with three wins out of three teamfights. Spain versus Japan was of less importance for the ranking in Poule B where Holland was leading, because even if Spain won with 5 – 0 Holland would keep the number 1 position. At the weigh in the day before the fights all fighters made their weights although a few had to do some running. This proves that the strict rule of no leniency in the weight classes of the Challenge was becoming accepted by the teams because nobody complained although a few bystanders asked why the IMA rules were so strict on this item.

The answer is easy. If the fighters know that they can stretch the limit by a few hundred gram next time all of them will be just a little bit overweight. Which will result that in a few years for example the 84 kg weight category will become the 84.5 kg category. Because the scale was in American pounds the kilo’s had to be converted to lbs.

-70 kg (154.0 lbs), -76 kg (167.2 lbs), -84 kg (184.8 lbs), -93 kg (204.6 lbs), + 93 kg (over 204.6 lbs).

There were two superfights of 2 x 5 minutes, which will be called M-1 fights in the future and then will be three rounds of 5 minutes instead of two: Bobby Voelker of Overland Park KS (170 lbs) fought Hollywood’s Amir Rahnavardi (171,4 lbs) and Mike Whitehead from Las Vegas Nevada (257 lbs) faced Kansas city local Leo Pla (204,8 lbs). Rules were as usual those of he IMA and Ino Alberga was the representative of this Association. Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smit were the TV commentators of the life broadcasting and the HD TV registration was done by Gerald “Jerry”Millen and Kevin Hewit. American James Lee from Michigan was the referee for all the fights and the judges were Brett Miller, Jerry Griffin and Oral Saulter. Timekeeper was Marcia Champion. The ring physician was Dr. C. Lan Fotopoulos and Tim Lueckenhoff was the representative of the Missouri Office of Athletes without who’s cooperation the whole event could not have taken place.

Japan vs Spain

Daisuke Nakamura (154 lbs) vs Carlos Valeri (154 lbs)
17 wins 9 loses for Nakamura and a 7 – 6 record for Valeri and this one was probably the fastest win ever for Nakamura, because it took him only 26 seconds to finish the fight with a flying armbar. Winner by submission Nakamura.

Hidehiko Hasegawa (167.2 lbs) vs Javier Jose Martinez (166.5 lbs)
Record of Hasegawa was 20 wins 11 loses and 3 draw. Martinez had very little experience with only two fights of which he one one and lost one. Who would have thought that Martinez would be a piece of cake for the experienced Hasegawa was wrong, because Martinez who carries a brown belt fought him a majority draw. In the extra round Hasegawa was superior and he took the unanimous decision.

Yuyi Shirai ( 184.7 lbs) vs Rafael Rodriguez Gutierrez (184.6 lbs)
13 wins and 7 loses for Shirai and Gutierrez with 13 wins and 6 loses. After 2.16 minutes in the first round Shirai applied a kimura and took the fight.

Tatsuya Mizuno (204.5 lbs) vs Jose Beltran Martinez (190 lbs)
6 wins and four defeats for Mizuno and 2 wins against Beltran with a 2 – 0 record. After 1.53 in the first round Beltran was kicked on the head and mizuno was right allover him with punches. Referee James lee stopped the fight to prevent Beltran to be knocked out.

Yuji Sakuragi (214 lbs) vs Rogent Lloret Orredondo (232 lbs)
Rogent Lorent took the unanimous decision after a fight in which he dominated mostly in the backmount.

Japan won with 4 – 1 France vs Korea

France vs. Korea

Maktar Gueye (153 lbs) vs Kim Young-Su (153.7 lbs)
6 wins 2 loses for Gueye and 11 wins 6 lose for Kim Young Su. Despite the fact that he was far more experienced Young Su lost the fight. 1.02 minute of the first round needed Gueye to deliver some gruesome body punches which finished Kim Young Su. This earned him the bonus of 500 US dollars that was promised for the most spectacular Knock out of the evening.

Farouk “Paco” Lakebir ( 167.3 lbs) vs Kim Do-Hyung (167.2 lbs)
A very, very exciting fight which ended in a draw. Although most thought that Lakebir would take the decision after the extra round the American judges still did not agree on who should be the winner and because the IMA was dependent on them for the future and endless discussions should be avoided, it was decided to fight another extra round. Even after this round it took the judges quite a while to decide who was the winner but finally they gave the victory to Do Hyung, much to the surprise of the audience.

Karl “Psycho”Amoussou (184 lbs) vs Heo Min-Seok (184.8 lbs)
Seok who fought a superfight in Korea where he defeated Radmir Gabdulin from Russia on points with a split decision was in for a hard time because Amoussou’s reputation earned him the ring name “Psycho” and he carried it with honor. But Heo Min Seok proved to a tough cookie because he managed to get a draw after two rounds. The extra round was just as difficult to judge, because the outcome was a split decision in favor of Amoussou.

Karl Louis Jean (197.4 lbs) vs Lee Eun Su (204.2 lbs)
Louis Jean was a last minute replacement and although he fought brave in the first round, his endurance faded and after 4.22 in the second round his coach Bertrand Amoussou threw in the towel to prevent him from being knocked out by Lee. Lee winner by TKO with punches.

Malick “Komodo” Ndiaye (278.4 lbs) vs. Lee Sang Soo (246.6 lbs)
Komodo is a really big guy, but Lee Sang Soo was an opponent to be reckoned with because he defeated Roman Zenzov with an armbar in a superfight when the Challenge was in Korea. The Frenchman attacked fiercely in the beginning of the round and it looked like he would not need much time to defeat Lee Sang Soo, but soon the tide changed and after some ground and pounding Lee applied an armbar and with just two seconds left after 4.58 of the first round Komodo tapped out.

M-1 Superfights

Bobby Voelker (170 lbs) vs Amir Rahnavardi (171,4 lbs)
Hometown fighter Voelker made the crowd go wild when he was introduced. Rahnavardi who lived in Hollywood stayed cool and just smiled while he blew a few kisses to the audience. The problem was that Rahnavardi wasn’t told that he could not use the elbows and the Missouri office accepts elbows in mainfights, this fight was not under the IMA rules. Normally one wonders why a fight is called a Superfight, but this one deserved the name. After three rounds in which Amir showed an incredible ability to absorb punches, Bobby Voelker took the fight on decision.

Mike Whitehead (257 lbs) vs Leo Pla (204,8 lbs)
Mike Whitehead made Pla tap with a guillotine choke after 1.20 minute in the first round.

Thanks to www.mmachump.com for this press release.

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