Amsterdam, Holland – Two final lineup changes have led to the additions of U.S.-based MMA prospects Ryan Sturdy and Liron Wilson to Friday’s M-1 Challenge event in Kansas City, Kansas.
But in an intriguing turn of events, neither Sturdy or Wilson will be representing Team USA East when it faces Team Finland during the night’s headlining best-of-five challenge matchup.
Instead, Sturdy and Wilson will be representing the World Team and Team Turkey, respectively.
The need for the World Team and Turkey to enlist the help of U.S.-based fighters was created after late changes were made to each team’s roster. Due to the limited time frame to secure a replacement, both squads were left with no other choice but to recruit fighters located in the U.S. that would not be subject to travel restrictions.
Sturdy’s addition was brought about after Dominic Brown, a local Kansas City fighter, was unable to be finalized as the World Team’s middleweight representative.
Brown had been tapped as a late replacement himself and had agreed to move up in weight from his usual weight class of 170 pounds. However, with the World Team’s Nathan Schouten preferring to remain as middleweight as opposed to moving to light heavyweight, a slot for Brown was no longer open.
Sturdy, 9-2-1, is currently on a three fight win streak and is also the Extreme Challenge middleweight champion. The Extreme Challenge promotion has bred some of the world’s top fighters such as Matt Hughes, Rich Franklin, Tim Sylvia, Jens Pulver, and Pat Miletich.
The 20-year Sturdy, a skilled grappler who trains out of Jeff Curran’s Team Curran near Chicago, will be moving up to light heavyweight to face Turkey’s Abdullah Ahmady, 4-2. Sturdy, a rising middleweight prospect, will also be afforded the opportunity to work with Team Turkey head coach Gegard Mousasi this Friday in Kansas City.
Wilson was enlisted to fight for Team Turkey after light heavyweight Tugrul Okay was a late scratch for the event. With Okay off the roster, Ahmady shifted to light heavyweight, creating the vacancy at heavyweight.
Wilson is being tapped as a replacement just slightly less than two weeks after improving to 4-2 following his first round win over Jason Bedker at King of the Cage’s “El Lobo” event in Colorado on May 23.
The athletically gifted Wilson was able to be added on short notice after coming out unscathed vs. Bedker, as he needed just one minute and nine seconds to submit him with an armbar. Wilson will look for his second win in as many weeks against World Team heavyweight Michael Kitta.
In addition to the World Team vs. Turkey and USA East vs. Finland, a third M-1 Challenge matchup between England and France along with a special appearance by WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko are scheduled as well.
Friday’s event is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. CT and will emanate from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. Tickets are still available at all Ticketmaster outlets, including Ticketmaster.com.
Matchups for the three best-of-five M-1 Challenge matchups between USA East vs. Finland, England vs. France, and World Team vs. Turkey are as follows:
World Team vs Turkey:
1. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg.) – Romano De Los Reyes (World) vs. Akin Duran (Turkey)
2. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg.) – Diego Gonzales (World) vs. Faith Dogan (Turkey)
3. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg.) – Nathan Schouten (World) vs. Ahmed Bayrak (Turkey)
4. Light Heavyweight (204.6 lbs./-93 kg.) – Ryan Sturdy (World) vs. Abdullah Ahmady (Turkey)
5. Heavyweight (204.6-plus lbs./+93 kg.) – Michael Kitta (World) vs. Liron Wilson (Turkey)
England vs France:
6. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg.) – Ian Butlin (England) vs. Makhtar Gueye (France)
7. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg.) – Simon Phillips (England) vs. Gael Grimaud (France)
8. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg.) – Matt Thorpe (England) vs. Christophe Dafreville (France)
9. Light Heavyweight (204.6 lbs./-93 kg.) – Danny Giblin (England) vs. Johan Romming (France)
10. Heavyweight (204.6-plus lbs./+93 kg.) – Rob Broughton (England) vs. Soufian Elgarne (France)
USA East vs Finland:
11. Lightweight (154 lbs./-70 kg.) – Renato Migliaccio (USA) vs. Niko Puhaka (Finland)
12. Welterweight (167.2 lbs./-76 kg.) – Anthony Ford (USA) vs. Janne Tulirinta (Finland)
13. Middleweight (184.8 lbs./-84 kg.) – Valdir Araujo (USA) vs. Lucio Linhares (Finland)
14. Light Heavyweight (204.6 lbs./-93 kg.) – Rodney Wallace (USA) vs. Marcus Vanttinen (Finland)
15. Heavyweight (204.6-plus lbs./+93 kg.) – Mike Ottman (USA) vs. Toni Valtonen (Finland)