M-1 Global officials have finalized rosters and matchups for the 2009 “M-1 Challenge Presented by Affliction” season opener set to take place on February 21 in Seattle, Washington at the Emerald Queen Casino.
Matchups for the stacked 15-bout opener include the return of the Imperial Team (formerly known as “Russia Red Devil”), the 2008 M-1 Challenge champions, who will begin the defense of their crown in a best-of-five matchup against Team South Korea.
The opener will also feature the debut of Team USA West, managed by M-1 Vice President of Legal Affairs Steve Bash and renowned California-based promoter Roy Engelbrecht. Bash and Engelbrecht have secured an impressive roster for their debut effort with Affliction veteran Bobby Green, The Ultimate Fighter season seven qualifier Reggie Orr, IFL veteran Raphael Davis, and EliteXC veteran Carl Seumanutafa all committed for the season opener.
But Team USA West will have their work cut out for them as they will be matched up against Team Brazil Naja, which will be led by former IFL superfight competitor Eduardo Pamplona.
The 2009 opener will also lead off with the returning Team Finland, led by heavyweight Toni Valtonen, taking on the debuting Team Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg).
Complete lineups for the event are as follows:
Finland vs. Benelux (best of five)
— Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Juha-Pekka Vainikainen (Finland) vs. Danny van Bergen (Benelux)
— Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Janne Tulrinta (Finland) vs. Tommy Depret (Benelux)
— Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Lucio Linhares (Finland) vs. Raymond Jarman (Benelux)
— Light Heavyweight (204.6 lbs./-93 kg): Marcus Vanttinen (Finland) vs. Jochim Rijmen (Benelux)
— Heavyweight (204.7 lbs.-plus/+93 kg): Toni Valtonen (Finland) vs. Sander Duyvis (Benelux)
South Korea vs. The Imperial Team (best of five)
— Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Dohyung Kim (South Korea) vs. Mikhail Malyutin (Imperial)
— Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Myungho Bae (South Korea) vs. Erik Oganov (Imperial)
— Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Hyungyu Lim (South Korea) vs. Dmirty Somoylov (Imperial)
— Light Heavyweight (204.6 lbs./-93 kg): Jae Young Kim (South Korea) vs. Mikhail Zayats (Imperial)
— Heavyweight (204.7 lbs.-plus/+93 kg): Sang Soo Lee (South Korea) vs. Alexey Oleinik (Imperial)
Team USA West vs. Team Brazil Naja (best of five)
— Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Bobby Green (USA West) vs. Flavio Roberto Alvaro (Brazil)
— Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): TBD (USA West) vs. Eduaro Pamplona (Brazil)
— Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Reggie Orr (USA West) vs. Juliano Cioffi Belgine (Brazil)
— Light Heavyweight (204.6 lbs./-93 kg): Raphael Davis (USA West) vs. Jair Goncalves Junior (Brazil)
— Heavyweight (204.7 lbs.-plus/+93 kg): Carl Seumanutafa (USA West) vs. Jose Edson dos Santos Franca (Brazil)
Billed as the “World Cup of Mixed Martial Arts,” the M-1 Challenge is a full season of MMA events sponsored by partner Affliction that showcases some of the best up and coming MMA fighters in the world. Broadcast to over 80 countries around the world, including HDNet in the United States, the M-1 Challenge pits teams of five fighters representing their respective countries against each other for international bragging rights and the title of M-1 Challenge Champions.
Fighters who succeed on the M-1 Challenge’s international breeding ground will earn the opportunity to participate in major MMA events presented by M-1 Global and their promotional partners such as Affliction Entertainment.