The relentless self-marketing machine, Kenny ‘Deuce’ Garner (6-3), returns to action inside the confines of M-1 Global’s five-rope ring, stepping in to replace the injured M-1 Global Heavyweight Champion, Guram Gugenishvili. Garner faces decorated wrestler, Pat Bennett (4-2) at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, California on Friday, July 8 and the action can be caught LIVE on SHOWTIME starting at 11 p.m. ET/PT (Delayed on the West Coast).
Garner last faced Bennett in the 2010 M-1 Selection Americas tournament finals, where he won a convincing first-round TKO and feels he’ll produce the same results this time out, ‘I will end this fight faster than the last time I beat him, trust me. There is no chance on God’s green earth that Pat will stop my striking. NOBODY makes it out of the first round with Deuce – PERIOD! NOBODY!
Talk is cheap in the fight game – unless you back it up. Garner has been doing just that with his one-punch power which is why his record boasts four knockout wins. Hidden behind the heavy leather is also a potent submission arsenal and solid wrestling base which makes this rematch a potentially explosive outing for both men but Garner feels extremely confident; “Pat and I are similar but I’m stronger, faster and more technical. Pat’s got no chance.”
Love to hate him or hate to love him, the Port St. Lucie, Florida and American Top Team fighter is making a name for himself in the State of Florida, who has him ranked as the #9 heavyweight. With an affliction for the camera, Garner is surprising fans, media and executives at every turn and his ‘in your face’ personality has critics split between whether he’s the ‘real deal’ or just flash in the pan; but his convincing wins – with two having him marked as a huge underdog – the Deuce is proving to be a force to reckon with.
Prior to starting the Selections tournament, Garner’s manager, UFC veteran, Din Thomas, didn’t hold back when discussing his two early losses; “He took a couple bad fights on short notice and when you take a fight without preparation – as a heavyweight – you pay the price.” Garner’s losses came at the hands of Chris Barnett and Tony Johnson Jr; both by way of TKO in the late rounds which may have been attributed to questionable conditioning according to Thomas. In comparison, “Deuce” has shown exceptional performances when prepared as all six of victories have been total dominations.
Garner opened the Heavyweight brackets of the Selections tournament with a dominating victory over Matt Hopkins; from here, Garner was next slated to fight the imposing Russian favourite, Andre Kapilou, in a semi finals bout he fighter wasn’t even given a ‘fighter’s chance’ of winning.
In the co-main event of the Semi Finals card, Garner shocked the crowd with a three-round war that neutralized Kapilou’s extensive reach and stand-up abilities. In a total reversal of predictions in front of Kapilou’s home-town crowd, Garner slid past his opponent’s striking damage-free to secure effortless take downs where the Russian’s weakness on the canvass became exposed. Without having an answer to Garner’s G&P and submissions other than a relentless will to survive, Kapilou endured the most painful 15 minutes of his fighting career with his face taking the brunt of the assault. Garner proved to doubters that he is not the one-dimensional fighter he was thought to be as he worked through three rounds to secure the unanimous decision nod from the judges.
Even with the win, Garner still wasn’t given the credibility he deserved heading into the Finals where he had another seemingly insurmountable task ahead of him: stop Pat Bennett and his proud wrestling pedigree. Not only did Garner neutralize the wrestling skills of Bennett by stuffing every takedown, he confirmed to fans why he should be considered one of the most-feared strikers in M-1’s heavyweight division.
After a brief exchange in the clinch, Garner revealed a lead hook that couldn’t miss; he caught Bennett, then caught him again and caught him again. Bennett had no answer to the game that was being forced upon him as blow after blow crumbled his confidence and left him stumbling and disoriented. In an effort to fight back, Bennett reached for the single leg, got stuffed and ate a combination that sent him rubber-legging across the canvass and into the ropes. Although refusing to fall – possibly because Deuce was holding him up so he could feed a second and third helping of heavy leather to Bennett’s face – Bennett was clearly unable to intelligently defend himself leaving referee ‘Big Dan’ Miragliotta with no choice but to stop the bout at 2:31 of the very first round, giving Garner and his precision striking the TKO victory.
With this win, Kenny Garner rounded out the five M-1 Selection 2010 Americas champions and was the first US fighter to be given the opportunity to fight for the M-1 Challenge championship belt in the headline bout at M-1 Challenge XXI against Guram Gugenishvili this past October in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In an eventful first round, Garner came out of the corner looking to press the action and stuffing Guram’s early takedown attempts. After being re-started when the pair broke through the ropes, Guram worked through an array of submission attempts and a wicked neck crank. Fighting from his back, Garner absorbed a left from up high which opened a gash dangerously close to his right eye, causing the referee to stall for a quick inspection by the ringside physician who gave the bout the green-light to continue. From here out, Garner worked bottom and top positions as he controlled the rest of the frame with the judges’ scorecards giving him a 10-9 round.
The tide only took 54 seconds to change as Guram dodged a looping right hand to start the second and caught the American in a head-and-arm choke; the pair then shuffled into the red corner where Guram locked in the standing guillotine and choked Garner unconscious forcing the referee to halt the bout.
Eager to mount another Cinderella run through the list of heavyweight contenders on route to a second shot at the M-1 Challenge heavyweight championship, Garner jumped at the chance to fight Bennett; “I’ll fight anyone, anytime for M-1 GLOBAL,” said Garner. “I’ve got to do better than what I’ve done before and this is my opportunity to chase down my belt! I’ve been training hard and I’m not losing to Pat Bennett.”
As the headline fight on July 8th, expect a war.
Tickets are priced at $75 for the front row and all other seats at $50 and can be purchased online at www.fightcluboc.com, or by calling Roy Englebrecht Promotions at (949) 760-3131 .
Mauro Ranallo will call the action from ringside with Pat Miletich serving as analyst. The telecast will be produced by Chuck McKean and directed by Craig Farrell. The executive producer of SHOWTIME Sports is David Dinkins, Jr.
With M-1 Challenge champions established in all five weight classes, a true contenders system will fuel events throughout 2011, driving M-1 Global’s growth as a leading brand in the US and international markets.
2011’s full slate of M-1 Challenge events held in the United States and Europe are primed to be mega-event spectaculars where Champions defend their titles and contenders jockey for position for a coveted shot at the gold. Feeding the contention system will be two Selection tournaments in 2011 with details being announced shortly.
For information on SHOWTIME Sports programming, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries, complete telecast information and more, please go to the new SHOWTIME Sports website at http://www.sho.com/sports.
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