Top-ranked prospect, Guram Gugenishvili has been putting the competition to sleep faster than a licensed anesthesiologist since coming on the scene in July of 2009. Sporting a perfect 11-0 record and the M-1 Global heavyweight strap, the Georgian powerhouse has fully recovered from his training injury which forced him to postpone his US debut and is ready to land Stateside on October 14th at M-1 Challenge XXVII; he'll look to defend his title against Kenny ‘Deuce' Garner in the card's headline bout and mop the mat with the A.T.T. standout once again.
The battle from inside the new 5,500 seat Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix, Arizona can be caught LIVE on SHOWTIME starting at 11 p.m. ET/PT (Delayed on the West Coast).
Fighting out of Makariv, Kiev Oblast in the Ukraine, Gugenishvili had been the cornerstone of the Makfight team since beginning his professional career; as with all fighters aiming to evolve, Guram made the tough decision to move to the Aris Sport Club earlier this year, where a modern facility is set to provide him the tools to become an even more dominant force. Although in a new team, Guram remains under the instruction of Coach Ioseb Koberidze, who is dedicated to improving his pupil's striking and Jiu Jitsu.
As the winner of the inaugural 2010 M-1 Selection Eastern European tournament and Europe's leading MMA promotion's reigning heavyweight champion, what's most notable about Guram is his agility; at 6'4" and 250lbs, he moves around the ring lightly, maintaining precise ring positioning. He's methodical, calm and systematic in his movements; in his mind, he's won the fight before the sound of the bell and the course of action within the ropes is only a formality.
No one has been able to expose holes in his abilities to date. All but two of his victories have ended early in the first round and seven of these come by way of suffocating, anaconda-like rear naked chokes. Aspiring fighters often rely on one or two bases early in their career and Guram is no different; he has a sound freestyle wrestling base that he leverages to set up submissions but there is room to improve. Guram and his coach are actively improving his sambo and striking techniques while also working in boxing and Muay Thai sessions.
He has the confidence, work ethic and determination to elevate his proficiency in all fighting styles and evolve into an even more fearsome, versatile fighter. Simply put: Gugenishvili is proving himself as the top-ranked heavyweight prospect in MMA and the global fan base has no choice other than to take notice.
Guram captured the inaugural M-1 Global heavyweight belt with a commanding submission win at M-1 Challenge XXI over Garner. After some momentary trouble handling Garner's submission game, the Georgian powerhouse disposed on his foe early in the second round, capturing the card's Submission of the Night honor thanks to a standing guillotine choke that put Garner on the mat, out unconscious.
His first title defense was M-1 Challenge XXIII this past March where he collided with Red Devil prospect, Maxim Grishin, who nearly shocked the world in the early seconds of the battle when he floored the champ with a left hook. With the dangerous situation short-lived, Guram got back to his feet and engaged Grishin quickly; after a brief exchange, the pair hit the mat with Guram working from his foe's guard, firing effective blows through Grishin's defence. As Guram postured up and stepped over into full mount, Grishin made the fatal mistake of rolling over in an attempt to escape, giving up his back and exposing his neck; it took Guram a split second to recognize the position and quickly wrenched in his patented, text-book RNC, forcing the tap at 3:38 of the opening round.
As the reigning Heavyweight Champion, Guram is now climbing the next steps of his professional career where the level and calibre of competition gets tougher.
Although extremely successful to date and able to manhandle his opponents at will, it's inevitable to envision the type of fighter that Guram will evolve into with exposure to elite-level coaching and training in striking and jiu jitsu; incorporating these elements into his already powerful arsenal will make Guram a force to be reckoned with anywhere on the planet; his first foray outside of Europe lands him in the United States on October 14th when Garner will get a second shot to stop the Guram hype-train.
With M-1 Challenge champions established in all five weight classes, a true contenders system will fuel events throughout 2011, driving M-1 Global's growth as a leading brand in the US and international markets.
2011's full slate of M-1 Challenge events held in the United States and Europe are primed to be mega-event spectaculars where Champions defend their titles and contenders jockey for position for a coveted shot at the gold. Feeding the contention system will be two Selection tournaments in 2011 with details being announced shortly.