This coming weekend courtesy of M-1 Global at the Ice Cube Curling Centerin Sochi in Russia two of Europe’s very best fighters will compete in what has the potential to be the European Fight of the Year. M-1 Challenge Featherweight Champion Ivan “Buki” Buchinger and former M-1 Challenge Lightweight Champion Mansour “Tarzan” Barnaoui will be headlining M-1 Challenge 62 in a 145lbs title bout.
Buchinger is so far undefeated in his M-1 stint going 4-0 and likewise his opponent Barnaoui is undefeated in his last four bouts which included him capturing the BAMMA Lightweight title which he has since relinquished. Buchinger has not lost a professional bout since December 2012 and has defended the M-1 Challenge Featherweight title on one occasion, knocking out Aliyar Sarkerov at M-1 Challenge 56 in April.
Barnaoui who has been fighting since 2011 really burst onto the European scene in early 2012 with a win under the Cage Warriors promotion over highly ranked Lightweight Brad Wheeler and has since picked up five stoppage wins. Bouts at BAMMA 13 and 14 really helped to increase his exposure to the European fans but following failed contract negotiations with the promotion has since vacated the Lightweight bout and moved across to fight for M-1 whom he fought for in 2013.
The fight will be broadcast on various European channels, however, the best place to watch the bout will be via the promotions web service at a cost of just 3.99 Euros a month https://m1global.tv/
Well this fight is immense on paper and I just hope it can live up to expectations. It’s strange just how much this fight has flown under the radar and I suspect that it’s partly due to the location of the bout, but also down to the lack of promotion from both fighters who are not the best sellers of themselves on social media platforms. But promotion of the fight aside I just cant fathom how you cannot get excited about this bout which I feel is really one of the “superfights” that the European fans have been craving for years and a true contender for European fight of the year.
Buchinger has just always been that guy who you can never count out and has beaten a who’s who of European fighters in his career to date and at only 29 years old still has so much to offer the sport. Barnaoui is the younger fighter and has been on an absolute tear of the Lightweight division in recent years picking up wins over Julien Boussuge, Brad Wheeler & Curt Warburton to name but a few. But how do you split this one down the middle?
What will be really interesting to see is just how Barnaoui deals with fighting at 145lbs, this bout will be the first time in his career that he fights at Featherweight and that could have a real implication on how this one plays out. He is a big dude with a large frame and will definitely have the size advantage over Buchinger on the night but just how much will that extra 10lbs affect him? At a lower weight class 10lbs is a huge deal and it’s also worth bearing in mind is the location of this fight. Both fighters will be travelling over 3000 miles to get to Russia and so they will both need to factor in this travel in their pre fight work, although neither of them are strangers to fighting abroad.
Whatever way you try to dissect this fight it’s almost impossible to weigh it up for either fighter. Barnaoui has only been successful going the 15 minute distance on one occasion and has two losses both by decision, Buchinger is accustomed to fighting for 15 minutes and never has issues with his cardio. Both of Buchinger’s stoppage losses came in the first round when he was being pressured, a style Barnaoui loves to embrace. I just really can’t choose a winner in this bout and really am looking forward to watching two of the very best in Europe compete.
What will also be interesting is what Barnaoui will do after this fight and whether or not he will pursue his career at 145lbs or whether he will move back to 155lbs. I suspect the outcome of the fight will play a large factor in making that decision, with a win keeping him at 145 and a loss giving him the option of either weight. Likewise for Buchinger what’s next for him after this one? If he wins just how far away is a call from the UFC? But does a loss open up a rematch with Barnaoui? Just so many variables which just make this fight so exciting and luckily we only have a few more dates to see how this plays out.