Top Russian heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov Commits to fighting on M-1 Challenge 80 card
Russian heavyweight Sergei “The Paratrooper” Kharitonov has committed to fighting June 15 on the M-1 Challenge 80 card in Harbin, China. Kharitonov will square-off against veteran Brazilian MMA fighter Marcus Viniciuds “Montanha” Lopes in the main event.
Kharitonov (23-6-0, M-1: 3-0-0) is undefeated in three M-1 Challenge events having defeated former M-1 Challenge heavyweight champion Kenny “Deuce” Garner twice, at M-1 Challenge 59 in 2015 at Kazakhstan (WKO/TKO4 – punches) and M-1 Challenge 43 in 2013 at China, (KO/TKO3 – injury), and to Alexei Kudin at M-1 Challenge 53 in 2014 Russia (KO2).
Kharitonov, who has also fought in Strikeforce and PRIDE, has defeated some of the greatest heavyweight MMA fighters of all-time, including Allister Overeem, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum and Pedro Rizzo.
Lopes (15-0-0, M-1: 2-1-0) defeated Evgeni Myakinkin by three-round unanimous decision this past February at M-1 Challenge 74. Lopes won a three-round unanimous decision over Kurban Ibragimov in his M-1 debut last July. His lone M-1 loss came at M-1 Challenge 71 this past October to former M-1 Challenge light heavyweight champion Stephan Puetz, who used a choke hold for a third-round submission victory.
A pressure fighter and solid striker, Lopes is a jiu-jitsu champion in his native Brazil, where most of his MMA fights have been held during his 6 1/2-years professional career.
In a recent interview with M-1 Global News, Kharitonov said, “I received a lot of offers but I prefer to fight in M-1 Global.” Below is the complete Q & A with Kharitonov:
Do you know who your opponent will be at M-1 Challenge and, if not, what are your expectations?
SK: “I don’t not know anything yet. I received an offer from M-1 to fight in China. Since I have been talking with (M-1 Global president) Vadim Finkelchtein for a long time and understand each other, I gave my consent Vadim said I am popular in China and that he wanted me to represent Russia in this tournament. At this moment, I have no thoughts or assumptions about this fight because I’m focused on my upcoming Bellator fight. This is my main objective right now and after that fight I will think about the M-1 fight.”
Bellator did not give permission for a fight last December in Russia. What changed this time and was it difficult to get permission to fight again in M-1?
SK: “There were no problems. I do not want to comment on how we came to an agreement, bit one thing is for sure, I’ve received permission and after my next Bellator fight I will fight at M-1 Challenge 80 in China.”
You fought in China at M-1 Challenge 53. How do you like the local audience there and what are your overall impressions of the tournament?
SK: “Everything was fine. I liked the level of organization, fans’ attitude toward the athletes, and the response from the public. I think M-1 has good experience in terms of holding tournaments in China, so this time they can make it an even bigger show.”
Do you accept offers to fight from other Russian organizations and why did you decided to fight in M-1?
SK: “Yes, I received a lot of offers, especially recently. I won’t say specifically but they were from major Russian MMA organizations. But I have a long relationship with M-1 and me and Vadim know each other well. We get along well and trust each other. Therefore, O prefer to fight in M-1 Global.”