By Daniel Fletcher
Yasubey Enomoto. Tremendous at his best, a mercurial talent, but both the three fight win streaks that represent his entire successful body of work in the sport were ended by extremely sub par performances, losing to opponents he was heavily expected to crush, and bludgeon early. The little known Tyler Stinson earned a surprise technical knockout over Enomoto in his fourth fight, and of course after Yasubey reached the Sengoku Welterweight Grand Prix final after three imperious displays, he choked against Keita Kakamura. Which Enomoto will show up – the dextrous striker who bitchslapped Taisuke Okuno at Sengoku 15 and then Saenchai-kicked him, or the man who turned in a dud in the final?
Shamil Zavurov – yours truly wrote the hype feature of this prospect, a man with considerable pedigree in a variety of martial arts of both the grappling and striking variety. Please refer to: http://www.lowkick.com/Other/Shamil-Zavurov-The-Rising-Star-of-Russia-12275
As the piece notes, Zavurov suffered a “Fedor-esque” first defeat – with many putting that particular ‘loss’ in parentheses – which he bounced back from with a perfect 9-0-0 slate in 2010. That is quite an incredible achievement on the top European stage regardless of the quality of opposition, and even more so for the fact that his opponents just about all had winning records, with a total combined tally of 75 wins and 58 defeats. And he scored submissions, knockouts and decisions. He outgrappled them, outstruck them, and demolished them. They were supposed to help build up a star and give him rounds, yet for the most part they got dominated and swiftly dispatched.
In the frankly exciting signing of Yasubey Enomoto, M-1 have put together a really meaty matchup together, one that offers a range of possible conclusions. Enomoto is flashy standing, whereas Zavurov is more stolid; planting his feet and throwing power punches, often using them to close the range to get inside and throw his opponent. Enomoto kicks and clowns his foes, Zavurov has dropped some of his own with hard overhand rights and pounded them to the finish. What wins in this field; dexterity and style, and aesthetically pleasing attacks, or solid technique and uncompromising power?
In the grappling sense, Zavurov surely has the edge. The positional dominance he displays was recounted in loving detail in the aforementioned feature report (link above), and his world champion pedigree in Sambo adds a repertoire and fondness for both throws and submissions into his arsenal. His physical attributes help; stocky and powerful, a low centre of gravity for open-weight grappling competition at 5’10”, and athleticism as displayed when he reverses holds and scramble attempts. His physical package (no pun intended) suits his hybrid style.
One potential outcome could be the GSP/Koscheck scenario, only with Enomoto being more willing to take risks, and capable of throwing flashier strikes than Canada’s favourite son does in his now predictably dominant yet unexciting conveyor belt of title defences. If Zavurov cannot clinch up, or land a big shot on the feet, can he stop M-1 Global’s newest signing from taking the championship belt?
It should be noted that M-1 Global pulled off a major coup with this. Most big organisations would have pulled their champion from the card had the contender pulled out of the fight injured as Rashid Magomedov did, or found a replacement on short notice to carry out a glorified squash match. But in this case, M-1 found an extremely capable and dangerous opponent for Zavurov, and have pitted rising star vs rising star in a fight arguably much more intriguing than the bout originally booked for the card!
Also on the M-1 Challenge XXV card (streamed live on M-1 Global’s official website, http://m-1global.com) Vinny Magalhaes (7-5) and Viktor Nemkov (10-2) will compete for the vacant light heavyweight (205 Lbs) strap.
Magalhaes is one of the five best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners in MMA today. That is no exaggeration; he is a special grappler. I’d advise readers to check his flying armbar victory over Pe De Pano in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission grappling world championships (the guy who smashed Frank Mir back in 2006). Magalhaes is up there with Jacare Souza, Fabricio Werdum, Roger Gracie and perhaps Shinya Aoki or Demian Maia in the pantheon of MMA elites who you’d really be best served avoiding entering the grappling realm with at all costs. He is a bad man.
The most noteworthy fight on a pretty solid card outside of the two main events is probably the scrap between middleweight veteran contenders Andrei Semenov (29-9-2) who is looking for his thirtieth career win, a significant landmark for most fighters, and Luigi Fioravanti (22-8). Both are well versed on the European scene, and a win would certainly help one of them take a step closer to a shot at middleweight gold with M-1.
The entire card after the break.