Season 2 Of M1 Challenge Set To Begin Airing On HDNet May 15th




Amsterdam, Holland — The U.S. season premiere of the 2009 “M-1 Challenge Presented by Affliction” ( is scheduled for Friday, May 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET on HDNet ( and will feature the season debut of the 2008 M-1 Challenge Cup Champions, Fedor Emelianenko's Team Imperial. And when viewers tune in for the premiere, they will be treated to one of the most dramatic fights in M-1 Challenge history.

Formerly known as Russia Red Devil, Team Imperial returned to action at the '09 season opener in Tacoma, Wash. earlier this year having brought back all five of members of its championship roster.

Led by top lightweight prospect Mikhail Malyutin and light heavyweight ace Mikhail Zayats, Team Imperial's road to a second consecutive title will not be easy. With this year's M-1 Challenge expanding from ten teams to 16, Imperial finds itself in a deep Pool B with USA West, Team Brazil, and a vastly improved South Korean team.

Imperial's quest for a second championship during Friday's premiere will come against a South Korean team led by returnees heavyweight Sang Soo Lee and lightweight Do Hyung Kim. The premiere will also feature the incredible M-1 Challenge debut of light heavyweight newcomer Jae Young Kim.

With an 11-6 record at the time, Kim was considered a massive underdog heading into his 205 pound encounter with Zayats, who went 4-0 in M-1 Challenge play in 2008, with notable wins over jiu-jitsu black belt Lucio Linhares of Finland as well as Holland's David Haagsma in the '08 finals. Overall, Zayats was a stellar 8-1 heading into the '09 opener vs. Kim.

In addition to the exciting Zayats vs. Kim fight, viewers will also see heavyweights Lee and Alexy Oleinik go head-to-head along with a bout featuring two of the M-1 Challenge's best lightweights, Malyutin and Do Hyung Kim.

Lee made headlines last year after recording a first round submission victory over striking standout Roman Zentsov in a “superfight” held at an M-1 Challenge event in Seoul, South Korea. Zentsov, a veteran of PRIDE and BodogFIGHT, was forced to tap at 4:33 of round 1 and has not competed since.

During Friday night's premiere, Lee will once again find himself in the ring against a top Russian competitor in Oleinik, who competed on U.S. soil last year during YAMMA's heavyweight tournament held in Atlantic City, N.J.

Oleinik was added to the Team Imperial roster just prior to the '08 finals after Kirill Sidelnikov was promoted to Affliction and M-1's “Day of Reckoning” event this past January. An underdog vs. Holland's Jessie Gibbs, Oleinik proved himself to his teammates after submitting Gibbs with an Ezekiel choke at 3:42 of round 2. Who will keep their win streak alive? Tune into HDNet at 8 p.m. ET on Friday to find out.

With commentary provided my Affliction and M-1 pay-per-view announcers Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smith, Friday's premiere also includes a welterweight matchup featuring Imperial's Erik Oganov vs. South Korea's Myeon Ho Bae and a middleweight contest between Dmitry Samoilov of Imperial and Hyun Gyu Lim of South Korea.

With a total of 16 teams featuring fighters from Russia, the U.S., Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Finland, and Benelux, the 2009 M-1 Challenge will be available in the U.S. each and every Friday at 8 p.m. ET on HDNet starting Friday, May 15.


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