Hilversum, Holland — With the completion of its eighth and final regular season event of the 2009 “M-1 Challenge Presented by Affliction,” the final playoff field of four has been set. Both Russia Legion and USA East qualified for the playoffs on Sunday night at Studio 22 in Hilversum and will be heading to the M-1 Challenge semifinals on Sept. 26 in Russia.
Russia Legion won Group D following its 5-0 sweep of Team Turkey. Led by welterweight Magomed Shihshabekov, voted the eighth best European MMA prospect by Sherdog.com, Legion won all of its matchups inside the distance. With the flawless victory, Legion finishes the 2009 regular season with a perfect 3-0 team record and an individual record of 13-2.
USA East took a less conventional approach to earning its playoff berth by winning the Group C title in spite of losing 3-2 to host country Team Benelux. After following behind early 0-1 after Benelux lightweight Danny van Bergen TKO’d David Zitnik via strikes at 2:07 of round 1, USA East welterweight Shamar Bailey and middleweight John Doyle earned dominating victories over Raymond Jarman and Richard Plug, respectively, to give USA East a 2-1 advantage. However, both light heavyweight Mike Connors — who accepted his fight on seven days notice after Logan Clark pulled out with a knee injury — and heavyweight Chuck Grigsby lost, Benelux was able to walk away with a 3-2 team victory.
With the loss, USA East became tied in the team victories category with Team Finland. The teams remained deadlocked in the standings following the use of M-1′s first tie-breaker with individual wins. However, M-1 officials ruled that USA East would go onto the semifinals in Russia based on the second tie-breaker of head-to-head victories, as USA East defeated Finland by a 3-2 margin in Kansas City on June 5.
With the final four playoff teams set, M-1 officially announced Sunday night that Team USA East will take on Team USA West in one semifinal matchup with Russia Legion going head-to-head with Team England.
Below are official results of Sunday’s fights:
Team Challenge #1: Spain vs. Japan
1. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Abner Lloveras (SPN) def. Luiz Andrada (JPN) via two-round unanimous decision
2. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Hidehiko Hasegawa (JPN) def. Jose Bertran (SPN) via two-round unanimous decision
3. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Rikuhei Fuji (JPN) def. Rayco Kakin (SPN) via two-round unanimous decision
4. Light Heavyweight (204.8 lbs./-93 kg): Tatsuya Mizuno (JPN) def. Rafael Rodriguez (SPN) at 2:20 of round 1 via submission (rear naked choke)
5. Heavyweight (+204.8 lbs./+93 kg): Yusuke Kawaguchi (JPN) def. Cirio Tejera (SPN) via two-round unanimous decision
Japan defeats Spain by score of 4-1…
Team Challenge #2: Turkey vs. Russia Legion
6. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Rustam Khabilov (LEG) def. Akin Duran (TUR) at 0:08 of round 1 by knockout (throw)
7. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Magomed Shihshabekov (LEG) def. Faith Dogan (TUR) at 0:35 of round 1 by TKO (strikes)
8. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): Sergey Kornev (LEG) def. Ahmed Bayrak (TUR) at 1:04 of round 2 by submission (neck crank)
9. Light Heavyweight (204.8 lbs./-93 kg): Besiki Gerenava (LEG) def. Abdullah Ahmady (TUR) at3:51 of round 2 via submission (rear naked choke)
10. Heavyweight (+204.8 lbs./+93 kg): Akhmed Sultanov (LEG) def. Gurhan Degirmenci (TUR) at 1:07 of round 1 via submission (triangle)
Russia Legion defeats Turkey by 5-0 score…
Team Challenge #3: Benelux vs. USA East
11. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg): Danny van Bergen (BEN) def. David Zitnik USA) at 2:07 of round 1 via TKO (strikes)
12. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg): Shamar Bailey (USA) def. Raymond Jarman (BEN) at 3:15 of round 2 via TKO (strikes)
13. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg): John Doyle (USA) def. Richard Plug (BEN) via two-round unanimous decision
14. Light Heavyweight (204.8 lbs./-93 kg): Jason Jones (BEN) def. Mike Connors (USA) at 1:00 of round 1 via submission (strikes)
Team Benelux defeats USA East by 3-2 score…