Much has been said about M-1 Global, most of it negative because of the press coverage of the management portion of the company. M-1 Global as a fight organization is actually one of the better promotions in the world. I speak from first hand experience where former teammates have been taken care of by the Russian company at events they participated on. Tonight was M-1 Global's second show on Showtime and the expectations were pretty high as they made a major push towards the MMA media to build up this event.
M-1 Global falls into a grey area of MMA. It isn't quite regional MMA due to the fact that they host events internationally but the fights just don't have that "Big Event Feel" often associated with major MMA shows. Tonight demonstrated that while they have been able to expand internationally, they still have a long way to go if they plan on being considered a world power when it comes to MMA.
The card kicked off with a fight between Jason Norwood and Eddie Arizmendi. Norwood has a reputation for being an extremely boring fighter who fights to win decisions instead of working to finish fights. Arizmendi was able to defend the takedowns and utilize his far superior stand up. Norwood opted to defend Arizmendi's boxing with his face instead of using head movement to minimize damage. This ultimately was the decider as Arizmendi finished the fight with a beautiful left hand that put Norwood out before his head hit the mat.
The next fight between Beau Baker and Daniel Weichel demonstrated why M-1 shouldn't be considered a top-tiered organization. Weichel came into the fight with over 30 fights while Baker was coming off of a loss and an injury. Weichel dominated the entire fight as expected and won a one sided decision that saw a judge score the fight 30-25. This score card, while a bit surprising, summed up the fight perfectly. Baker was fighting to surive, not to win. Weichel lacked the ability to finish the fight.
We were then treated to two quick first round knockouts. Mairbek Taisumov ended Josh Bacallao's night with a right hand. In the pre-fight interview he let us know he doesn't blow and that he'll show us. I don't know what this meant but he proved that he has some knockout power in his right hand. Following this fight, Tyson Jeffries met Arthur Guseinov. The fight will be remembered for the spectacular spinning back fist finish with many proclaiming it the knockout of the year. While it was a great knockout and a perfect spinning back fist, placing it ahead of classic knockouts like Anderson Silva's front kick to Vitor Belfort or Lyoto Machida's crane kick to Randy Couture is downright ridiculous.
The main event was a rematch between Patrick Bennett and Kenny Garner. This was an extremely sloppy and entertaining heavyweight fight but the key word is sloppy. Bennett is best known for taking Cole Konrad to a decision in Bellator. Getting finished in the second round against a guy like Garner really should question the overall skills of Konrad who wasn't able to finish Bennett at Bellator 17. Fun knockout but neither fighter came way impressive.
Overall feelings on the card? M-1 produces fun fights. But there are a lot of people who put finishes ahead of competitive decisions against top talents. The fights were entertaining but the quality of fighters was no better than a regional card. It's not a bad way to spend a Friday night but shouldn't be compared to quality Strikeforce or UFC cards. Guseinov was the most impressive in victory with his spinning back fist while Garner was most likely the least impressive. As the M-1 brand continues to grow, so should the level of talent. But until that happens, it will still only be considered a regional MMA brand.