Tomasz Narkun Seeks Redemption at M-1 Challenge XXIII
After having his confidence shattered at the hands of Vyacheslav Vasilevsky for the M-1 Challenge light heavyweight championship this past December, 20-year-old, Tomasz Narkun has gone back to camp intent on returning faster and stronger. Come Saturday March 5th at M-1 Challenge XXIII, Narkun redeploys for battle inside the ring against 2010 Eastern European Selection tournament runner-up, Shamil Tinagadjiev. With Vasilevsky opting to relinquish the 205-pound title in exchange to drop down a weight class, a Narkun win lands him a title shot at the freshly vacated crown for the second time in his young career. Fans worldwide can tune into the official M-1 Global website (www.M-1Global.com) on Saturday March 5th LIVE and for free to witness the title contention picture play out; the action begins at 11:00am EST / 8:00am PST.
Fighting out of Stargard Szczecinski, Poland and the Berserkers Team, Narkun would be considered a small light heavyweight by North American standards weighing in just shy of the 205lb mark. Making his professional mixed martial arts debut in November 2009, Narkun strung together four impressive submission victories on route to capturing the 2010 M-1 Selection Western European tournament championship. Displaying composure and fluid transitions, Narkun locked in a rear-naked choke at only 52-seconds into the first frame against Olutobi Ayodeji Kalejaiye. Semi-final action against Timo Karttunen was short-lived after a joint-jacking armbar halted the contest 49-seconds in. And the Eastern/Western European Selections Finals presented another walk for Narkun as he destroyed David Tkeshelashvili at 1:50 of the very first round via rear naked choke. Three tournament fights with a total elapsed time of less than one full round of fighting; sounds eerily similar to fellow Selections light heavyweight champion from the USA, Byron Byrd, who takes on Alihan Magomedov on the Challenge XXIII card as well.
The seemingly Cinderella start to his career came to a screeching halt against Vasilevsky however as Narkun ventured confidently into the championship bout and walked head-on into a one-sided beating that left the Polish striker standing like a deer in headlights.
After opening up the fight, circling to test each others’ reach and speed, it didn’t take Vasilevsky long to sense that Narkun’s reaction to jabs, hooks and uppercuts simply weren’t there. With fluid, pinpoint accuracy, Narkun was systematically dismantled and stripped of the confidence he possessed at the sound of the bell. Being the preverbal nail throughout the first round, pounded with an incredible display of striking, Narkun’s defense simply broke down.
After taking heavy punishment, Narkun was able to tie up in a close exchange and lock in a loose Thai clinch where he retaliated with solid knees but Vasilevsky escaped and continued his onslaught. Late in the first, Narkun was rocked with a massive upper cut that left him rubber-legging across the canvass; had the round more time, Vasilevsky would have certainly ended the fight.
After the minute break, Narkun recognized his inability to counter or begin an offensive and effectively ended the fight just past the midway point of the second round with a verbal submission.
Suffering the first loss in a young professional career isn’t a bad thing if the fighter takes the loss for what it is and leverages what can be learned from it; to return successful, Narkun must have improved his hand speed, head movement and counter abilities. If his Berserkers teammates have broken down the fight and implemented a strong training camp focussed on these aspects of his game, Narkun can enter the ring at M-1 Challenge XXIII a revitalized and transformed fighter with an amazing opportunity to seize a victory and a second shot at the coveted light heavyweight gold.