Two championship bouts have been made official for M-1 Challenge 26, as Guram Gugenishvili defends his heavyweight title against Pat Bennett and Jose Figueroa puts his lightweight strap on the line against Daniel Weichel.
The event, which goes down on July 8, will mark the promotion’s second trip to the United States this year. An exact location for the show has not yet been announced. Two more M-1 Challenge events are expected to take place stateside later in 2011.
“M-1 Global is fully engaged in preparations for this year’s second U.S.-based ‘Challenge’ event,” M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan said in a statement. “The European fighters who participated on the March card enjoyed great success in their North American debuts, setting the bar extremely high for those coming from overseas in July. This group of fighters is eager to put on exciting performances for the fans.”
Gugenishvili (Pictured; file photo) is undefeated through 11 professional outings. The Ukrainian captured the M-1 Global heavyweight title last year, submitting Kenny Garner with a guillotine choke in the second round. Most recently, Gugenishvili successfully defended his belt for the first time, finishing Maxim Grishim with a first-round rear-naked choke in March.
A member of Team Bombsquad, Bennett is a four-time veteran of M-1 competition. Beginning his professional career in 2009, the heavyweight took on current Bellator Fighting Championships heavyweight king Cole Konrad in just his second pro fight. Though he fell to Konrad by unanimous decision, Bennett went on to post a 3-1 record inside the M-1 ring. Most recently, the American bested Alexander Volkov at M-1 Challenge 22 in December.
Figueroa rides a three-fight winning streak heading into his first title defense. The American Top Team Orlando representative comes fresh off his title-winning performance against Artiom Damkovsky in March, when Figueroa sealed the deal by delivering unanswered ground-and-pound in the second frame.
A King of the Cage and British Association of Mixed Martial Arts veteran, Weichel has won eight of his last nine contests, including three straight in the last year. The German is undefeated in M-1 competition, holding a perfect mark of 4-0. Weichel most recently submitted Magomedrasul Khasbulaev with a triangle choke at M-1 Challenge 24.