Showtime Sports & M-1 Global Announce “M-1 Challenge: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa” Live On Showtime

February 23, 2011

As MMAPayout reported last week, Showtime and M-1 announce that the “M-1 Challenge” 3/25 event taking place in the U.S. will be televised live on the network.

SHOWTIME Sports and M-1 GLOBAL announced today an upcoming mixed martial arts (MMA) event entitled M-1 Challenge: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa featuring two M-1 GLOBAL title fights. The bouts will air LIVE on SHOWTIME on Friday, March 25 at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

Artiom Damkovsky will defend his M-1 Challenge Lightweight (155 lbs.) championship against Jose Figueroa, while Tyson Jeffries and Magomed Sultanakhmedov will battle for the vacant M-1 Challenge Middleweight (185 lbs.) belt from Constant Center in Norfolk, Va.

In other action, Alexander Sarnavskiy will take on Josh Bacallao in a lightweight scrap and Vinny Magalhaes will fight an opponent to be named in a light heavyweight (205 lbs.) matchup.

“I am extremely happy about the venture between M-1 Global and SHOWTIME. There is no better TV network for M-1 than SHOWTIME. And no better market to seriously compete in than the U.S.,” said Vadim Finkelchtein, co-founder of M-1 GLOBAL.

“Our ability to televise quality boxing and MMA fights at the highest level has been aided tremendously by our commitment to showcasing prospects and lesser known international stars on our feeder series like ShoBox: The New Generation and STRIKEFORCE Challengers,” said Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports. “M-1 Challenge events fit perfectly into that mold and will enhance our mixed martial arts offerings even further.”

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.

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

Payout Perspective:

Negotiations between M-1 Global and Showtime have been ongoing since September of last year, and after several months of back-and-forth negotiations, it looks like the deal is now finally official.  The first televised event will be on March 25, held at the Constant Center in Norfolk, Va, where multiple M-1 Challenge titles will be on the line as Artiom Damkovsky defends his title against Jose Figueroa and Tyson Jeffries and Magomed Sultanakhmedov fight for the vacant Middleweight belt.

One interesting note from the press release is that Mauro Renallo and Pat Miletich will call the action on March 25, a fan-favorite combination for many fans who typically work on the Strikeforce Challenger events along side with Stephen Quadros.  Showtime using only a two man booth to televise an MMA event is something that they have not experienced much in the past, but many have clamored.

7 Responses to “Showtime Sports & M-1 Global Announce “M-1 Challenge: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa” Live On Showtime”

  1. jv on February 23rd, 2011 6:22 PM

    Lots to think about here. With Fedor on a slide and on his way out the door does this get renewed after the 4 fight deal? Are Showtime happy to have this as a back up in case Strikeforce gets an offer they can’t refuse when it comes time to look at a new deal? Is this leverage to try and get SF to ask for less money if they renew?

    Did any one from SHO actually take the time to go look at an M1 event? Are they aware of some of the controversy?

    I like the idea of Mauro and Pat better than any of the other combinations they have tried. Maybe if it works there they will try it for the SF shows as well.

    On a premium channel in a bad time slot it will be interesting to see what M1 can pick up for sponsors. Any word on wether this is being distributed internationally by M1 or any one else?

  2. bigfan on February 23rd, 2011 6:32 PM

    defintly get my money worth with showtime.

  3. Jose Mendoza on February 23rd, 2011 11:02 PM

    It will also be interesting to see if M-1 still uses a ring and how the Showtime broadcast will look compared to the Strikeforce cage.

  4. BrainSmasher on February 23rd, 2011 11:11 PM

    I hope Showtie cans Gus Johnson. I was listend to Mauro’s show on Serius and he had his guest going off on Johnson and showtime. Mauro played it off like he didnt agree with out actually saying. You could tell he was letting the guest/co host talk for him since Gus is a colleague and didnt want to cause trouble. But you can tell people are not happy and Shpwtime if forcing Gus in the mix with more qualified MMA annoucers setting right beside him unable to speak. Now people finally see why the UFC refused to allow HBO to control the production. It is the job of an announcer to hype fighters into stars and make moments seem unforgettable. Thats impossible to do when you have no MMA experience and dont care about the sport to begin with.

    Im not a big fan of Mauro as he comes from a pro wrestling back ground and in pro wrestling (JR) fashion over hypes every moment. That is something that is no needed in real sports. Football announcers show emphasis when there is a big play. Not every 5 seconds. A sporting event should sound like a horse race being called. He also seems to script most of his comments and especially the cliche’s. But he is a professional. He runs the booth pretty smooth and he has learned the MMA game to a decent level over the years. SF would be a much better show with Mauro and Quadros and Shamrock out of the booth doing fighter interviews and off camera as much as possible. He really looks like a schmuck with braces and its very distracting. He really dont contribute much to be worth it imo. this M1 show should be a step up in announcing. To bad the card looks like the local events with a known name attached as the promoter. I guess its important to not have a fight or fighter take attentioj away from the M-1 name.

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MMA Feed and J Thompson, Johnny Garland. Johnny Garland said: Showtime Sports & M-1 Global Announce “M-1 Challenge: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa” Live On Showtime: As MMAPayout rep… […]

  6. Machiel Van on February 24th, 2011 9:13 AM

    I can’t really imagine this show will pull in decent ratings. We’ll see how they promote it… it will take quite an effort. Gus and Frank Shamrock should both be banned from the announcing booth. I don’t particularly like Mauro’s commentary, but in a world where your choices are Gus Johnson, Mauro Renallo, Frank Shamrock and Pat Miletich, this is the correct duo. Pat’s slow methodical way of speaking should create a nice balance with Mauro’s over the top auctioneer speak.

    I jsut wonder what kind of rights fees were paid. If it’s a fair deal, Showtime may juSurvey plotted in GISst be willing to take a chance and see what the ratings are. It may not be set in stone that they drop M-1 after this deal, however I fancy myself a pretty hardcore MMA fan, and even I will not be watching based on all the prior M-1 Challenge shows I’ve seen.

    Jose, they will most likely use a ring. They did for their “Breakthrough” show back in Aug. ’09 which was in the states. Remember, M-1 already complained about not having their brand differentiated during the CBS show, it seems like the ring would help them keep a separate identity in the minds of casual fans (who probably won’t watch their shows anyway).

  7. Jose Mendoza on February 24th, 2011 12:22 PM

    Machiel Van,

    Yes, M-1 uses a ring and that’s what I expect, but the only MMA ring experience Showtime has I believe was the Affliction PPV shows they did a while back. I am curious to see how the presentation will look, though, since it is closer to a boxing setup, I have a feeling it will look pretty decent and fans will like it. As for the fights, yeah, I am not sure if any of their fighters (mostly unknown here in the states) will get over.

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