For the past year in the M-1 Challenge, Lucio Linhares (12-3) has repeatedly been asked the following question: “What are your long-term goals?”
And without fail, Linhares has responded by saying he’d like his career path to take him down a road that would include a shot to compete on a major show in the U.S., most notably an Affliction/M-1 pay-per-view.
Well, thanks to a lot of hard work and some amazing performances in the ring, Linhares’ goal of making it to the big show will be realized on Aug. 1 when the Team Finland middleweight competes on the undercard of Affliction and M-1’s “Trilogy” event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Standing in Linhares’ way of achieving victory on a major show will be his biggest rival in the M-1 Challenge, none other than Russia Imperial’s Mikhail Zayats, 8-3.
Linhares and Zayats are both considered two of the M-1 Challenge’s best pound-for-pound fighters. However, while Linhares has looked impressive this season by going 2-0, Zayats has fallen on hard times after losing the 2008 “M-1 Challenge Fighter of the Year Award” to Jessie Gibbs by a slim margin.
Despite his two upset losses this year, Zayats has agreed to move down from light heavyweight to middleweight in order to give Linhares the long-awaited rematch to their controversial 2008 encounter.
During Zayats vs. Linahres I, Zayats won a disputed decision victory last June in a bout many consider to be one of the best fights in M-1 Challenge history. However, several ringside observers felt that Linhares was the rightful winner of the encounter based on the belief that Zayats may have benefited from a “home field advantage” due to the fact that the fight occurred in Zayats’ home country of Russia.
But now both Linhares and Zayats have been granted an opportunity by Affliction and M-1 officials to set the record straight on Aug. 1 at “Trilogy.” Linhares will have the chance to avenge his previous loss while Zayats will be able to silence the critics who question whether he deserved to beat Linhares the first time.
Linhares and Zayats not only join a main card that will be headlined by M-1 contracted fighters Fedor Emelianenko and Gegard Mousasi, but also an undercard that will feature a second M-1 Challenge showcase matchup between Team England heavyweight Rob Brought and the aforementioned Gibbs, who competes for Team Benelux (Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium).