Photo by Jeff Howard - Dave Jansen wins at M-1 season opener Feb. 21

PRO MMA ( was live at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington on February 21st for the 2009 “M-1 Challenge Presented by Affliction” season opener. There were a total of 30 fighters, 15 fights, and six teams which included Team Benelux vs. Team Finland, Team South Korea vs. Team Imperial Russia, and Team USA West vs. Team Brazil. It was a great start for the new season and the following is a summary of the night’s events.

The first matchups were Team Finland vs Team Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemborg). The first bout, the lightweights, started off like gangbusters. Both guys were throwing and landing blows from their feet in an almost carefree manner, it was a great fight to start off the night and the already intoxicated crowd loved it! The decision could have went either way after two rounds, but the Benelux fighter, Danny Van Bergen got the nod from the judges with a unanimous decision.

The second bout started off almost like the first, looked like it was going to be a standup battle. But, not quite half way into the first round, the Finnish fighter goes for and successfully clenches. Then, in the blink of an eye, the Finnish Welterweight, Janne Tulirinta slaps on what I mistakenly thought was a standing Darce choke, his opponent jumps in the air, flailing, and obviously trying to throw himself into or out of the ropes to get the ref to break it up. He was unsuccessful and was forced to tap, due to a Filandes Choke at 2:30 of the first round.

Toni Valtonen defeated his opponent by a huge slam at M-1
Photo by Jeff Howard - Toni Valtonen has a big big slam!

The crowd, at this point, is frothing at the mouth and whooping it up. After the show, we went backstage and talked with Janne about his victory. When we asked him about the Darce choke, he corrected me. “Its not a Darce, its called a Filandes choke, its my favorite choke”, he said. “I knew when I sank it, it was over, that’s my favorite choke.” He let us know that it was a move invented by a famous Finnish Jiu-Jitsu master, Filande, and not to call it a Darce choke, so I stood, and still stand, corrected. But, I must say still, it looked like a Darce, but don’t tell Janne that…

The next fight, again, almost mirrored the first two, except for the fact that the Finnish middleweight, Lucio Linhares arm-barred his opponent for the tapout at 1:22 of the first round.

The fourth bout was between Finnish light heavyweight, Marcus Banttinen and Dutch judo champion, Jason Jones. This match, from pretty much the beginning to the end, was a total beatdown and many thought it should have been stopped in the second round as Jason Jones took a brutal beating on the ground. Marcus had the full mount and pounded away on Jones repeatedly for almost the entire second round, but they let it go and Vanttinen got the unanimous decision win for Finland.

Dave Jansen ground n' pound
Photo by Jeff Howard - Dave Jansen ground n pound

The last bout between Finland and Benelux was the shortest and scariest of the night. Right after the bell rang, the Finnish HW Toni Valtonen rushed his opponent, grabbed the double leg, bounced off the ropes, picked up the smaller Benelux fighter and slammed him to the canvas.

We all knew immediately that he could not possibly be conscious and we were correct. He was out instantly as Toni dove in and landed two more punches on the chin before the referee could stop the match at just 18 seconds into the very first round.

We caught up with Toni after the event and asked him about his quick victory. He told us that it was his fastest win ever and he loves the slam. “I won my last fight same way, with slam, not as fast as this, but with a slam.” When I asked him if he knew the guy was knocked out, he said, “Of course, but it’s the refs job to stop the fight, so I punch him to make sure it’s over.”

Finland beats Benelux 4-1 in the best of five matches.

The way the fights started off, was both good and bad. Good because it was exciting and varied, bad because how do you follow that up? We would just have to hope the rest of the fights could live up to the first five.

The second matchup was the defending champions of M1; the Russian Imperial team against South Korea. To the surprise of almost everyone, myself included, the South Koreans dominated the Russians and won the matchup by a score of 3 to 2 in the best of five.

The most notable fight of that series were the light heavyweights. Jae Young Kim, a short squatty South Korean and not the most fit or agile LOOKING fighter, put on a standup clinic in the first. So much that the Russian fighter, Mikhail Zayats, was forced to take it to the ground where he sunk in a few good submissions only to have the stout South Korean fighter break out of them, including a very deep armbar that would have made most fighters tap immediately.

Towards the end of the second round they were both gassed but the little South Korean, still smiling, throws a high kick to the head and KO’s his opponent at4:02 of the second round. When we caught up with Jae Young Kim after the event he told us through his interpreter that the high kick is his “secret weapon”. He uses it on all fighters the first time he fights them, because they don’t expect it. When asked about conditioning, he told us that this was the first time ever cutting 25 pounds to fight and he didn’t know what his cardio would be like after such a weight cut. I also had to ask how he kept from tapping on such a deep armbar, “He hurt something, he hurt something in my arm, I don’t know what, but I don’t tap.”

Team S. Korea's Jae Young Kim was victorious
Photo by Jeff Howard - Team S. Korea's Jae Young Kim was victorious

The last matchups were Team USA West vs Team Brazil. The first matchup was Team Quest member and Oregon native, Dave Jansen, who just fought on Feb. 6th at lightweight for the US against Rio Heroes veteran, Flavio Alvaro. From the onset, Jansen put on a clinic standing up and on the ground and really hurt the Brazillian fighter with mean body shots.

During a big takedown somewhere near the middle of the first round, their heads clashed and Jansen had a silver dollar sized and shaped cut on the right side of his head which started bleeding pretty good. Many of us were afraid they were going to call the fight as they called for the physician and cleaned him off, but to every one’s satisfaction they let it continue.

Except for a couple of feeble sub attempts by Flavio, Jansen schooled the veteran and won the unanimous decision.  I asked Dave Jansen after the fight if he had watched any of Flavio’s previous fights and he said, “Yeah, I saw three online. He hit really hard, but I get hit by much bigger guys at Quest, like Ed Herman and sometimes Chael Sonnen. We go hard at Quest, all the time.”

Dave Jansen putting on a stand up clinic
Photo by Jeff Howard - Dave Jansen putting on a stand up clinic

He said he never felt in trouble and knew the body shots hurt his opponent. He felt as if the cut was from a head clash or an elbow, which are not allowed in M1. “Ive only been doing this for three years full time and I want to keep progressing and of course become the best in the world at lightweight.”

I also asked him if he thought wrestling was the best base to start an MMA career. “I’m biased, so of course I think so. It is easier for a wrestler to learn jiu-jitsu then for a jiu-jitsu guy to learn wrestling.” Dave also wanted me to mention his sponsors Clinch Gear, and “especially, these guys have been great to me, really great”

Team USA won the matchup over Brazil by a score of three fights to two. Reggie Orr won a unanimous decision, Raphael Davis got a TKO stopage (which his opponent and the coach both protested after the ground n’ pound stoppage at 4:05 of the first round). Carl Seumanutafa lost a split decision to Franca and Brazils Pamplona got the TKO due to ground n’ pound at 2:48 of the 3rd round.

Team Finland vs. Team Benelux – Finland wins 4-1

  • LW-Juha-Pekka Bainikainen vs. Danny Ban Bergen – Van Bergen wins by Unanimous decision
  • WW-Janne Tulirinta vs. Tommy Depret- Tulirinta wins by submission, Filandes choke at 2:30 of the first round
  • MW-Lucio Linhares vs. Kamil Uygun – Linhares wins by submission, armbar at 1:22 of the first round
  • LHW-Marcus Vanttinen vs. Jason Jones – Vanttinen wins by Unanimous decision
  • HW-Toni Valtonen vs. Sander Duiyvus – Valtonen wins by KO, Slam at :18 of the first round

Team S.Korea vs. Team Imperial Russia – S.Korea wins 3-2

  • LW-Do Hyung Kim vs. Mikhail Malyutin – Kim wins by unanimous decision
  • WW-Myung Ho Bae vs. Erik Oganov – Bae wins by submission, rear naked choke at 2:12 of the first round
  • MW-Hyungyu Lim vs. Dmitriy Samoylov – Samoylov wins by unanimous decision
  • LHW-Jae Young Kim vs. Mikhail Zayats – Kim wins by KO, head kick at 4:02 of the second round
  • HW-Sansoo Lee vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk – Oliynyk wins by submission, ezekiel choke at 4:27 of the second round

Team USA West vs. Team Brazil – USA West wins 3-2

  • LW-Dave Jansen vs. Flavio Alvaro – Jansen wins by unanimous decision
  • WW-Dylan Clay vs. Eduardo Pamplona – Pamplona wins by TKO, ground and pound at 2:48 of round 3
  • MW-Reggie Orr vs. Juliano Belgine – Orr wins by split decision
  • LHW-Raphael Davis vs. Jair Goncalves Jr. – Davis wins by TKO, ground and pound at 4:05 of round 1
  • HW-Carl Seumanutafa vs. Jose Edson Franca – Franca wins by split decision

PRO MMA ( along with Jeff Howard, would like to send out a special thanks to Jacob Schaap for his great hospitality, taking care of us, and being so accommodating and to Steve Bash for setting the whole thing up.

By: Jeff Howard

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