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By Mike Johnson on 1/16/2018 8:32 AM

2017 M-1 Global Fighter of the Year


M-1 Challenge Lightweight Champion  

Damir Ismagulov

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (January 16, 2018) -- M-1 Challenge lightweight champion Damir Ismagulov has been selected by mixed-martial-arts fans around the world as the 2017 M-1 Global Fighter of the Year.


Fighting out of Orenburg, Russia, the 26-year-old Ismagulov (14-2-0, M-1: 8-1-0) was 3-0-0 in 2017, all in M-1 Global action, including his M-1 Challenge lightweight title-winning performance, followed by one successful title defense.


Ismagulov, a native of Kazakhstan, started 2017 in grand style, knocking out Morgan Heraod of France, in the third round last February at M-1 Challenge 74.


Last May, Ismagulov faced former M-1 Challenge champion Maxim Divnich (13-2-0), at home, in Orenburg, for the vacant M-1 Challenge lightweight championship.


Their title fight commenced with a "feeling-out process" of simple exchanges of blows with Ismagulov working more with his feet, but the opening round ended with the hometown favorite holding a slight advantage.


Ismagulov, however, dominated the next three rounds and Divnich, whose severely damaged, bloody face showed the ill effects of Ismagulov's continued assault, was unable to turn things around in the fifth. As the finish neared, Ismagulov failed to submit his game opponent until a barrage of unanswered punched rained on a defenseless Divnich. The referee halted the action with 13-seconds remaining on the clock for a hard-fought Ismagulov win by technical knockout.


After the fight 5,000 fans celebrated, roaring their approval for Ismagulov, who said, "I'm from the Orenburg region. I won the belt! Thanks for coming. I want to thank the MMA Orenburg, my coach, Victor Frolov, who saw me as a talent, and Alexander Shlemenko for believing in me. I thank my coaches, my family, and our fans.


"I've proved that a simple guy from a small village without the Internet can become champion. If I can, you can. The belt is in Orenburg, where it should be."


Ismagulov is shown here in a ground-and-pound attack vs. Rogero Matias da Conceicao


Ismagulov won a hard-fought main event battle against upset-minded Rogero "Karranca" Matias da Conceicao, of Brazil, by way of a non-title, unanimous decision at M-1 Challenge 85.



Ismagulov defends his M-1 Challenge lightweight title February 22, when he takes on his Georgian challenger, Raul Tuturauli (18-3-0, M-1: 6-1-0), in the M-1 Challenge 88 main event at Olympic Stadium in Moscow.




Twitter & Instagram:









Feb. 9 - M-1 Challenge 87: Silander vs. Ashimov, M-1 Arena, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Feb. 22 - M-1 Challenge 88: Ismagulov vs. Tutarauli, Olympic Stadium, Moscow, Russia





Bob Trieger, Full Court PRESS,, @FightPublicist


ABOUT M-1 GLOBAL: Founded in 1997, M-1 Global has established itself in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as the premier entity for discovering and developing the world's next-generation of superstar fighters. With its office in St Petersburg, Russia, the M-1 brand has staged more than 200 events worldwide, including M-1 Selection, M-1 Challenge, M-1 Global and M-1 Global HWGP events, in addition to co-promoting Strikeforce events and M-1 Global on the U.S. network, Showtime. Captivating live, television and broadband audiences with its superior production values and match-ups, M-1 Global events have featured some of the sport's top names, including legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, Andrei Arlovski, Gegard Mousasi, Alistair Overeem, Keith Jardine, Ben Rothwell, Melvin Manhoef, Sergei Kharitonov, Aleksander Emelianenko, Roman Zentsov, Yushin Okami, Mike Pyle, Denis Kang, Martin Kampmann, Amar Suloev, Chalid Arrab and Stephan Struve. 2017 was another sensational year of world-class competition, featuring a full calendar of Challenge events, fueled by a talent-rich contention system ranking M-1 Global Champions among the greatest fighters in the sport.


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