Showtime to Air 4 M-1 Challenge Events in 2011, Starting March 25


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Strikeforce is no longer Showtime’s only partner in the MMA business.

Sherdog.com has learned from a source close to the situation that M-1 Global has joined with the premium cable network to broadcast four events in 2011, beginning with M-1 Challenge 24 on March 25. Subsequent events will likely air in July, October and December.

M-1 Challenge 24 -- the promotion’s first event of the year held in the United States -- will take place at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on the campus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

The show will be headlined by a lightweight title tilt, as newly-crowned champion Artiom Damkovsky will defend his belt for the first time against 2010 M-1 Selection Americas tournament winner Jose Figueroa. Three weeks prior to that event, M-1 Challenge will kick off its fourth season with M-1 Challenge 23 “Guram vs. Grishin” on March 5 at Crocus City Hall in Moscow.

Damkovsky rides a five-fight winning streak into his first title defense. The Belarusian made his way through the 2010 M-1 Selection Eastern Europe lightweight bracket en route to capturing the tournament crown in July. The 26-year-old followed those three victories with the biggest win of his career, besting Mairbek Taisumov to capture the promotion’s world lightweight title.

A product of American Top Team Orlando, Figueroa recently snapped a three-fight skid with consecutive victories in the 2010 M-1 Selection Americas tournament. Prior to winning the tourney, Figueroa was defeated in his one and only Bellator Fighting Championships appearance by Luis Palomino at Bellator 21.

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