ORENBURG, Russia (May 27, 2017) - A new M-1 Challenge lightweight champion was crowned last night as Damir Ismagulov knocked out former champion Maxim Divnich at the end of the fifth and final championship round in the M-1 Challenge 78 main event at Orenburg, Russia.
M-1 Challenge 78 was a true international event with fighters representing eight different countries: Russia, Brazil, Belarus, USA, UK, Sweden, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
Ismagulov (11-2-0, M-1: 7-1-0), fighting out of Russia by way of Kazakhstan, fought Divnich (13-3-0, M-1: 7-3-0) at home, in Orenburg, for the vacant M-1 Challenge lightweight title, where Divnich had lost his title belt in 2015.
The title fight commenced with a "feeling-out process" of simple exchanges of blows with Ismagulov working more with his feet, and the 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 finished 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 Ismagoulov 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 in Orenburg, where it should be."
Russian light heavyweight Mikhail Ragozin (8-2-0, M-1: 2-0-0) stopped Alan Bispo De Santana (5-2-0, M-1 0-1-0), of Brazil, via punches late in the third round.
Brazilian middleweight Caio "Hellboy" Magalhaes (10-3-0, M-1: 1-0-0) turned in an impressive M-1 debut, using a rear-naked choke hold to submit Dmitry Voitov (15-7-0, M-1: 4-2-0), of Belarus, in the opening frame.
American welterweight Keith "The One" Johnson (12-3-0, M-1: 1-0-0) made an auspicious M-1 debut, also using a rear-naked choke to submit his opponent, former M-1 Challenge welterweight title challenger Maksim Grabovich (5-3-0, M-1: 4-3-0), of Russia, late in the third round.
Russian bantamweight Vadim "Bad Santa" Malygin (9-2-1, M-1: 2-1-1) won a three-round unanimous decision over veteran Brazilian fighter, Fabricio "Bill" Sarraff (23-10-0, M-1: 0-2-0).
In preliminary card action, Ukrainian bantamweight Alexksander Doskalchuk (7-1-0, M-1: 0-1-0) and Brazilian lightweight Rubenilton "Rubinho" Pereira (17-5-0, M-1: 1-2-0) were three-round majority decision winners, respectively, over Swede Son Le "Buddha" Binh (5-2-0, M-1: 1-1-0) and Orozbek "Nomad" Maripov (5-2-0, M-1: 0-1-0), of Kyrgyzstan; pro-debuting Russian lightweight Roman Bogatov (1-0-0, M-1: 1-0-0) used a bravo choke to submit Brit Richard "Rico" Franco (2-2-0, M-1: 0-1-0) in the first round, Russian featherweight Vitali Tverdokhlebov (4-3-0, M-1: 1-0-0) punched out Ukrainian Oleg Mikhailov (0-3-0 (M-1: 0-1-0) in round two, and Salem Evloev (1-0-0, M-1: 1-0-0) took a three-round unanimous decision from Alexey Dubrovny (0-1-0, M-1: 0-1-0) in a pro-debut battle of Russian bantamweights.
Official results below:
MAIN EVENT - VACANT M-1 CHALLENGE LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Damir Ismagulov (11-2-0, M-1: 7-1-0), Russia by way of Kazakhstan
WTKO5 (4:47 - punches)
Maxim Divnich (13-3-0, M-1: 7-3-0)
(Ismagulov won vacant M-1 Challenge lightweight title)
M-1 Challenge 79: Shlemenko vs. Halsey - June 1, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia
M-1 Challenge 80: Kharitonov vs/ Lopes - June 15, 2017 in Habin, China
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