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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

M-1 Global, Fedor Celebrate Successful Debuts

Courtesy of M-1 Global:

TOKYO, Jan. 1 -- It went pretty much according to plan for mixed martial arts newcomer M-1 Global on New Year's Eve in Japan. The fight organization saw its superstar -- No.1 ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko -- use his superior MMA skills to dispatch K-1 behemoth Hong-Man Choi via arm bar submission in the first round in what was dubbed a farewell to Pride event at the Saitama Super Arena near Tokyo.

Executives of the now defunct Pride FC -- a co-promoter with M-1 Global on "Yarennoka!" -- had long held end-of-the-year events in Japan. Emelianenko, Pride's longtime heavyweight champ, thanked the fans, saying, "Tonight my win was everyone's win." Pride had been purchased, and then dissolved, by the Ultimate Fighting Championship leaving Emelianenko a free agent who was signed by M-1 Global.

M-1's imprint on the event was undeniable -- first with Emelianenko's presence on the fight card and with a ring canvas logo slickly displayed for the world to see.

"We were pleased to be able to support the Yarennoka event. Fedor clearly demonstrated why he is the #1 ranked fighter in the world. We are glad that MMA fans in the US were able to see this great fight live on HDNet," said Bob Clark, M-1 Global COO. "The success of this event demonstrates the synergies that can be created when MMA organizations across the world work together to stage a spectacular event."

Though his match with the 7-foot-2-inch, 360-pound "Korean Monster" ended quickly, Emelianenko did have to work for the victory, his 27th in 28 professional MMA fights.

Working from the top for the second time in the opening round, Choi (1-1 MMA, 12-4 K-1) was able to posture up and create damage but when he left his right arm free Emelianenko quickly and precisely positioned himself for the decisive arm bar.

"I am happy to have fought in Japan once again, as tonight's fight was for all the fans," Emelianenko said, addressing the crowd afterward. "If I am able to, I will return to Japan to fight."

M-1's strategy is to have fights worldwide while working with other MMA organizations, like it did tonight in Japan. M-1 will have events in 2008 in Russia and the United States and hopes to return to Japan.

The heavyweight bout may have been the main attraction, but much of the evening's action came in the lightweight division. Five of the world's top 10 rated lightweights took to the ring with the most surprising news being the first loss of Gilbert Melendez's young career. Melendez (14-1) lost a unanimous decision to Mitsuhiro Ishida, who was able to withstand the American's high octane pace.

The night's other big draw was Shinya Aoki's bout against newcomer Jung Bu-Kyung. In a fight full of action both standing and on the ground, Aoki earned a hard-fought unanimous decision.

"Mach" Hayato Sakurai also won via unanimous decision with his victory over DEEP middleweight champion Hidehiko Hasegawa.

Top-tier lightweights Kazuo Misaki -- Pride's Bushido grand prix champion -- stalked and battered Yoshihiro Akiyama before a referee stoppage at 7:48 of round one.

Olympic gold medalist judoka Makoto Takimoto's fight with Murilo Bustamante was another that went to the judges' scorecards. In the end, Takimoto took a split decision victory.

Tatsuya Kawajiri -- nicknamed "The Crusher" -- earned that billing by grounding and pounding his way to a unanimous victory over Chute Boxer Luiz Azeredo.

In another heavyweight battle, American Mike Russow used a north-south choke to defeat Russia's Roman Zentsov at 2:58 in the first round.

About M-1 Global

M-1 Global is an International Mixed Martial Arts "MMA" organization dedicated to promoting the sport and its athletes worldwide through cooperation and alliances with other MMA organizations including both regional and televised world championship fights. Sibling Sports, LLC owned by Garlin Holdings Limited and Sibling Theatricals, Inc. is the sole Managing Member of M-1 Global, LLC. Sibling Theatricals is a live-event production company that produces shows from Broadway to Las Vegas and is wholly owned by Sibling Entertainment Group, Inc. For more information about M-1 Global visit: http://www.M-1Global.com.