M-1 Challenge Returns to U.S. on March 25


Jose Figueroa (left) will challenge Artiom Damkovsky on March 25. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com


M-1 Global will hold its first stateside M-1 Challenge event of the year March 25 in Norfolk, Va.

M-1 Challenge 24 “Damkovsky vs. Figueroa” will emanate from the Ted Constant Convocation Center on the campus of Old Dominion University. Newly-crowned lightweight champion Artiom Damkovsky is set to defend his title for the first time against 2010 M-1 Selection Americas tournament winner Jose Figueroa in the main event. Broadcast plans for the event have not yet been announced.

Despite entering 2010 with an 0-1 record in the M-1 ring, Damkovsky finished the year as the promotion’s first ever 155-pound titleholder on the heels of four consecutive wins. The 25-year-old Belarusian rattled off a trio of unanimous decisions to win the 2010 M-1 Selection Eastern Europe lightweight bracket, including two straight against Arsen Ubaidulaev, Damkovsky’s semifinal opponent who later replaced injured finalist Alexander Sarnavskiy.

In October, Damkovsky squared off against Western Europe tournament winner Mairbek Taisumov at M-1 Challenge 21 in St. Petersburg, Russia. After two and a half seesaw rounds, Taisumov, who went into the bout on a seven-fight win streak, declined to continue after receiving an inadvertent poke in the eye. Damkovsky earned the upset via technical knockout and joined the inaugural class of M-1 Challenge champions.

Figueroa, a gigantic 155-pounder at 6-foot-3, fights out of American Top Team in Orlando, Fla. The 26-year-old halted a three-fight losing skid -- including a brutal knockout at the hands of current UFC prospect Edson Mendes Barboza, Jr. -- by out-striking Joshua Thorpe in an August M-1 Selection Americas semifinal. Six weeks later, Figueroa won the tournament when opponent George Sheppard retired after receiving two accidental groin strikes.

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