On Wednesday, April 29 at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan, Team England will make its debut during the 2009 “M-1 Challenge presented by Affliction.”

Leading Team England will be Andy Lillis, the Director of Warrior Promotions. He had this to say, “I think (the M-1 Challenge is a) great concept and I think the British fighters and fans will embrace it with open arms. England has a history of getting behind our national teams and I know the guys are looking forward to fighting in Japan, as they have always wanted to fight out there.”

Lillis has assembled a team of five fighters in hopes of bringing the 2009 M-1 Challenge Championship Cup back to England.

Representing Team England at lightweight is Ian “M-16” Butlin (6-7), who is said to have a strong boxing background. Despite his pro record, the confident Butlin claims himself the number one lightweight fighter in England.

Team England’s welterweight fighter is Simon Phillips (6-2). He has a strong judo background and won the Fightzone Welterweight Title in December 2007. Phillips went 16-1 as an amateur and earned himself four titles in the process. 

Fighting at middleweight for Team England will be King of the Cage U.K., Bodog, and Cage Warrior veteran Matt “12 Gauge” Thorpe (10-7). Thorpe holds a notable win over Cage Rage veteran Che Mills, who recently tried out for Team U.K. during the current ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Representing Team England at light heavyweight is Tom Blackledge (7-6). Blackledge trains with such UFC fighters as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Michael Bisping, Cheick Kongo, and Paul Kelly at the Wolfslair MMA Academy in Widnes, England.

Finally, Team England’s heavyweight division will be filled by the 6’3″, 265 pound Rob Broughton (8-4-1). Broughton will most likely be the biggest heavyweight to compete in this year’s M-1 Challenge series. Broughton has notable wins over PRIDE veteran James Thompson, UFC fighter, Neil Grove, Robert “Buzz” Berry, Eric “Butterbean” Esch, and Cage Rage champion Ryan Robinson.

On April 29th, M-1 Challenge’s “Third Edition” will feature 30 fighters representing six countries in a total of 15 fights. Host country Japan will face the debuting Team England, Team USA West will battle Team South Korea, and Team France will take on Team Spain.

The “Third Edition” will also include a bonus superfight featuring French fighter, Karl “Psycho” Amoussou (9-2-1), who will be taking on a yet to be determined opponent.

Full standings and results from the current season are available at www.M-1Global.com. Here is the complete head-to-head fight card lineup for the “M-1 Challenge: Third Edition” being held April 29th in Tokyo, Japan:

Japan vs. England (best-of-five series) –
Lightweight (70 kg/154 lbs.): Luiz Andrade (Japan) vs. Ian Butlin (England)
Welterweight (76 kg/167.2 lbs.): Hidehiko Hasgawa (Japan) vs. Simon Phillips (England)
Middleweight (84 kg/184.8 lbs.): Riki Fukuda (Japan) vs. Matt Thorpe (England)
Light Heavyweight (93 kg/204.6 lbs.): Tatsuya Mizuno (Japan) vs. Tom Blackledge (England)
Heavyweight (+93 kg/204.7-plus lbs.): Yasuke Kawaguchi (Japan) vs. Rob Broughton (England)

USA West vs. South Korea (best-of-five series) –
Lightweight (70 kg/154 lbs.): David Jansen (USA West) vs. Yui Chui Nam (S. Korea)
Welterweight (76 kg/167.2 lbs.): Fabio Negao (USA West) vs. Myung Ho Bae (S. Korea)
Middleweight (84 kg/184.8 lbs.): Giva Santana (USA West) vs. Min Suk Heo (S. Korea)
Light Heavyweight (93 kg/204.6 lbs.): Raphael Davis (USA West) vs. Jae Young Kim (S. Korea)
Heavyweight (+93 kg/204.7-plus lbs.): Shane Del Rosario (USA West) vs. Doo Hee Lee (S. Korea)

France vs. Spain (best-of-five series) –
Lightweight (70 kg/154 lbs.): Makhtar Gueye (France) vs. Jose Luiz Zapter Aguirre (Spain)
Welterweight (76 kg/167.2 lbs.): Farouk Lakebir (France) vs. Jose Beltran (Spain)
Middleweight (84 kg/184.8 lbs.): Christophe Dafreville (France) vs. Rayco Zebenzui Romero Silva (Spain)
Light Heavyweight (93 kg/204.6 lbs.): Christian Mpumbu (France) vs. Enoc Solbes (Spain)
Heavyweight (+93 kg/204.7-plus lbs.): Soufian Elgarne (France) vs. Rogent Lloret (Spain)

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