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Clean sweep over Spain catapults Team England into M-1 Challenge semifinals

m-1challenge7Hilversum, Amsterdam – After being passed over in the inaugural M-1 Challenge last year, Team England made up for lost time by clinching the Group A title following its 5-0 team victory over Spain. With the victory, Team England will continue on into the M-1 Challenge post-season.

England entered the night tied for the lead in Group A with Team France but left little to chance by sweeping Spain. By the time France took to the stage vs. Japan, it still had a chance to supplant England if they were able to pull off a sweep of their own vs. Japan. However, tie-breakers did not come into play as France’s 3-2 loss allowed England to take the Group A title with a 2-1 team record with France being eliminated and finishing the year with a 1-2 record.

Team England’s night got off to a rocky start when newcomer was dominated in the first round by Spain’s . Roque at one point had full mount on Hewitt and pounded away with many in attendance anticipating an early stoppage. However, Hewitt was allowed to continue fighting and quickly turned the tide in round 2 by pulling off a remarkable comeback following an armbar submission at 1:35 of round2.

The second fight in the best-of-five team challenge series between England and Spain also started slow for , with England’s Simon Phillips appearing to be well on his way to losing a 10-9 round during the bout’s first stanza. However, much like Hewitt, Phillips was able to rally by submitting Jonathan Leon with a rear naked choke at 4:29 of round 1.

From there, it was all Team England, with requiring just 0:56 seconds to tap Spain’s Rafael Rodriguez with a triangle. The light heavyweight bout between England and Spain was an even briefer with Team Wolfslair’s knocking out Enoc Solbes via high kick just nine seconds into the bout. Blackledge, a coach during the upcoming tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, earned knockout of the night honors with the breathtaking strike.

While winning in quick fashion, Blackledge’s KO was yet another improbable victory for England. Battling flu-like symptoms all week, Blackledge struggled to make weight and Team England coaches Dave Butlin and Aaron Chatfield considered pulling Blackledge from the show and replacing him with Danny Giblin. However, Blackledge convinced his coaches to allow him to compete as scheduled.

Despite the 4-0 lead, it was imperative for Team England to win a sweep in order to prevent France from potentially winning via tie-breaker. England relied on another newcomer, , to get the job done. Keeley, who stands at 6’10” and is a former pro basketball , did just that, by TKO’ing Paco Estevez at 4:23 of round 2.

In addition to England’s 5-0 victory over Spain and Japan’s 3-2 victory over France, the World Team also defeated Germany by a 3-2 score. In the night’s opening bout, 16-year old prodigy Jeronimo de Groot also won a unanimous decision over Sascha Valentic in a fight conducted under K-1 rules.

The M-1 Challenge will return on less than 24 hours notice when it conducts the second part of its two-day “Mega Taping” at Studio 22 in Hilversum. The bouts will begin at 5 p.m. local time and will be available on at www.M-1Global.com (users can submit payment info via SMS through the widget on the right hand side of the page; stream not available in the U.S. or Korea). The 15-bout event will be highlighted with USA East and Russia Legion looking to clinch the final two M-1 Challenge playoff berths while competing in separate team challenges. Full lineups for Sunday’s event along with updated standings, photos, and post-fight interviews are available at M-1Global.com.

Official results from Part I of M-1 Challenge 7:

Superfight (Kickboxing Rules): Jeronimo de Groot def. Sascha Valentic via unanimous decision

Team Challenge #1: Spain vs. England

1. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Scott Hewitt (ENG) def. Jose Roque (SPA) at 1:35 of round 2 via submission (armbar)

2. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Simon Phillips (ENG) def. Jonathan Leon (SPA) at 4:29 of round 1 via submission (rear naked choke)

3. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Matt Thorpe (ENG) def. Rafael Rodriguez at 0:56 of round 1 via submission (triangle)

4. Light Heavyweight (204.8 lbs./-93 kg): Tom Blackledge (ENG) def. Enoc Solbes (SPA) at 0:09 of round 1 via KO (head kick)

5. Heavyweight (+204.8 lbs./+93 kg): David Keeley (ENG) def. Paco Estevez (SPA) at 4:23 of round 2 via TKO (strikes)

England defeats Spain via 5-0 score…

Team Challenge #2: France vs. Japan

6. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Yoshiro Tomioka (JPN) def. Frederic Fernandez (FRA) at 3:53 round 1 via submission (triangle)

7. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Yuya Shirai (JPN) def. Gael Grimaud (FRA) at 4:16 of round 1 via TKO (strikes)

8. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Christophe Dafreville (FRA) def. Yusuke Masuda (JPN) at 2:27 of round 1 via submission (armbar)

9. Light Heavyweight (204.8 lbs./-93 kg): Christian M’pumbu (FRA) def. Hideto Tatsumi (JPN) at 4:53 of round 2 via TKO (strikes)

10. Heavyweight (+204.8 lbs./+93 kg): Yoshiyuki Nakanishi (JPN) def. Akim Assenine (FRA) at 4:51 of round 1 due to submission (Achilles lock)

Japan defeats France by 3-2 score…

Team Challenge #3: World vs. Germany

11. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): (GER) def. Danial Sharifi (WLD) at 2:53 of round 2 via submission (guillotine)

12. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): **Diego Gonzales (WLD) def. Nordin Asrih (GER) via three-round unanimous decision

13. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Nathan Schouteren (WLD) def. Ismael Cetinkaya (GER) at 3:51 of round 1 via TKO (strikes)

14. Light Heavyweight (204.8 lbs./-93 kg):Mathias Schuck (GER) def. (WLD) via two-round unanimous decision

15. Heavyweight (+204.8 lbs./+93 kg): Thorsten Kronz (GER) Miodrag Petkovic (WLD) at 3:08 of round 2 via TKO (doctor’s stoppage)

Team Germany defeats Team World by 4-1 score….

** Despite winning the individual bout, Gonzales’ victory over Asrih was not valid as Gonzales failed to make weight within the M-1 Challenge designated time limit. Per M-1 Challenge rules, the fight was ruled a forfeit in Germany’s favor as it relates to the M-1 Challenge standings.

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