At 25 years old, Belarusian mixed martial artist Artiom Damkovsky is headed into his M-1 Challenge XXI lightweight title fight riding high on his current four-bout win streak and a seemingly ‘Cinderella story’ torrent through the 2010 Eastern Europe M-1 Selection tournament. Having won all three Selections bouts via decision, Damkovsky’s run can be viewed as one of the toughest passes to championship status across the tournament brackets in any region.
Amassing a respectable record of 10-4 since making his professional debut against Vladimir Ermolaev at Shooto Belarus – Bushido in July 2006, Damkovsky struggled through adversity as he developed his talents; his turn around came with a victory against Hiroyuki Abe and he hasn’t looked back since.
In the gruelling tournament structure, Damkovsky’s first draw was Shamil Abdulkerimov; the tilt marked him as a fighter to be reckoned with as the display put forth one the most exciting fights produced by any lightweight clash in the Selections tournament around the globe. In an incredible back-and-forth battle, Damkovsky showcased a combination of power, speed and skill that eventually wore out his formidable opponent. With keen awareness for positioning in the ring, the crowd witnessed stinging leg kicks, spinning back-fists, cat-and-mouse counters and an ability to take down his opponent with ease; at one point in the third round Damkovsky took down Abdulkerimov and stood back to his feet as if to say ‘I can take you down any time. Now get up and let’s go.’
Although only 5’8”, Damkovsky possesses a substantial reach and its clear this talented prospect understands how to effectively use this advantage. Being able to sit back and counter with explosive, powerful striking comparable to a welterweight, the Belarusian has shown to be extremely tactical in his game plan and apt in his defence; with Abdulkerimov breaking through this on occasion, Damkovsky also showed he has developed the ability to take shots and continue on relentlessly.
Following up with subsequent impressive performances which earned him the Eastern European M-1 Selection championship, Damkovsky is now slated to square off against fellow Selections champion from Western Europe, Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov, the M-1 veteran out of the Chechen Republic. The differing fighting styles possessed by these modern-day gladiators is expected to create one of the most thrilling bouts at M-1 Challenge XXI: Guram vs. Garner taking place October 28th in St. Petersburg, Russia; the winner of this battle not only earns the first-ever M-1 Challenge lightweight belt but also becomes the formidable roadblock for Americas Selections champ Jose Figueroa who is anxiously awaiting his shot at either Damkovsky or Taisumov in 2011.