Programming Reminder – M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Rizzo airs live only on Fight Network this Thursday, June 20, at 12 p.m. (Noon) ET.
Fedor Emelianenko (33-4) vs. Pedro Rizzo (19-9)
Former PRIDE heavyweight kingpin Fedor Emelianenko returns to the ring for the first time this year when he meets three-time UFC title challenger Pedro “The Rock” Rizzo. Emelianenko, once the sport’s pound-for-pound best, looks to run his current win streak to three since suffering a trio of losses under the Strikeforce banner.
Despite the setbacks, “The Last Emperor” remains one of the sport’s most feared heavyweights, holding notable wins over the likes of Semmy Schilt, Heath Herring, Ricardo Arona, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, as well as victories over six former UFC champions. Now at 35 years of age, Emelianenko looks to string together a solid win streak as he nears the end of his storied career.
Rizzo, meanwhile, is no stranger to taking big fights. In his 15 years as a pro, the Marco Ruas-trained fighter has competed for such organizations as the UFC, Affliction and PRIDE FC. After bursting onto the scene in 1998 with a knockout win over Tank Abbott, Rizzo would go on to challenge for the UFC heavyweight strap on three different occasions, coming up short each time.
Prediction: Say what you will about Fedor but the fact remains that he’s still a dangerous fighter. Since his Strikeforce release last year, the Russian has managed to right the ship by beating both Jeff Monson and Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii. Although neither of those guys are spectacular, neither is Pedro Rizzo. In fact Rizzo’s last four losses have all come by way of knockout and unless he’s changed the dynamics of his chin, he may suffer the same fate in this fight. By the way Pedro has fought Russian-born fighters twice in his career and was savagely knocked out both times…not that that counts for anything.
Pick: Fedor Emelianenko via KO
Kenny Garner (9-3) vs. Guram Gugenishvili (11-0)
In the co-main event, undefeated Georgian heavyweight Guram Gugenishvili takes on American Top Team product Kenny Garner in a rematch of their 2010 fight. Gugenishvili has been on the sidelines since March 2011 after suffering a string of injuries which kept him out of action for the better part of a year. Now healthy once again, the 10-time M-1 veteran looks to reclaim the heavyweight title he was forced to vacate nearly one year ago.
Garner, the present M-1 interim champion, currently rides a four-fight win streak and is undefeated since his last loss to Gugenishvili. After making his M-1 debut in 2010, the American-born Garner quickly made a name for himself by winning the M-1 Selection heavyweight tournament. Since then, he’s gone 4-1 with his lone loss coming at the hands of Gugenishvili.
Prediction: Not only is Gugenishvili undefeated, but he’s finished 10 of his 11 career opponents inside of two rounds. Sure he’s been off for a year facing various injuries, but at 25 years of age, it’s not likely to cause him many problems in this fight. Garner has proven to be a solid fighter capable of pulling off a big win. However, against a healthy Gugenishvili, it’s going to take more than a good showing.
Pick: Guram Gugenishvili via Submission
Daniel Weichel (28-7) vs. Musa Khamanev (11-3)
In a fight for the company’s lightweight title, champion Daniel Weichel meets Russian-born prospect Musa Khamanev. Weichel has been near perfect under the M-1 banner going 6-0 after losing his debut four years ago. Although he’s competed mainly on the European scene, Weichel has faced world-class competition, meeting the likes of Thiago Tavares, Paul Daley, Dennis Siver and Dan Hardy. In 28 pro wins, the native of Germany has also shown an ability to finish fights, knocking out five opponents and submitting 16 others.
After suffering a TKO loss at the hands of UFC veteran David Bielkheden two years ago, Russian Musa Khamanev reinvented himself into a serious contender going 7-1 with his lone loss coming by way of split decision. Most recently, the Legion Fight Team representative scored a unanimous decision win over highly regarded Artiom Damkovsky.
Prediction: Nothing against Khamanev but when you’re hot you’re hot and that’s exactly what Weichel is right now. Since suffering a knockout defeat to Rob Sinclair for the BAMMA title, Weichel has looked extremely impressive finishing four of five opponents in spectacular fashion.
Pick: Daniel Weichel via Submission
Jeff Monson (45-13-1) vs. Denis Komkin (13-8)
Competing for the fourth time in three months, well-travelled veteran Jeff Monson squares off with journeymen fighter Denis Komkin. Monson has been one of the sport’s more colorful and active fighters, going 11-2-1 in the last two years alone. In 59 professional fights, the former ADCC champion has fought some of the sport’s marquee names, including Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Roy Nelson, Josh Barnett, Daniel Cormier and Fedor Emelianenko, to name a few. Now 41 years of age, Monson has clearly lost a step but still poses problems to many of the sport’s top heavyweights with his smothering top game.
Komkin, meanwhile, has not won back-to-back fights since 2008 when he was competing on the Lithuanian regional scene. In 21 pro fights, the Russian-born fighter has only been to the judges’ scorecards three times
Prediction: Monson hasn’t looked particularly sharp since he submitted Sergei Kharitonov in 2009. Since then, he’s racked up wins over unheralded opponents in various countries. Sounds a lot like this fight actually. Fun fact: Monson has fought in 14 different countries.
Pick: Jeff Monson via Decision