Undefeated M-1 Challenge lightweight champion Roman Bogatov makes his first title defense tomorrow (Saturday) versus Michel “Sassarito” Silva, headliningWKG & M-1 Challenge 100, at Harbin, China.
Bogatov (7-0-0, M-1: 6-0-0), who captured his title belt last September at M-1 Challenge 97 with a unanimous decision victory over Rubenilton Pereira, is a Russian submission specialist.
Silva (22-7-1, M-1: 3-2-0), fighting out of Brazil, has stopped 15 of his opponents by knockout, but two of his last three fights were won by submission, all in M-1 competition.
Bogatov recently stepped into The Rage for a one-on-one interview about his first title defense:
Roman, your title fight against Rubenilton Pereira was the first five-round bout in your career. How tough was it psychological and physical?
AB: “If it were easy, I would not feel all the importance and difficulty of my way, starting from the first fight, so I had to push my psychological and physical limits and pull through. Somewhere in the middle of the fight I was thinking, “Why do I need all of this?’ (laughing). But if you started your way, you have to keep going, especially when you know how many people are worried for you and support you.
I had enough cardio to win that fight. It was hard only because I had to change my game plan during the fight, fight differently and waste my energy where I did not have to. I had to defeat this opponent, but not like the others. It was a great experience and in my next fights it is going to be easier for me to fight differently, if needed.”
It will be your second fight in a row against a Brazilian opponent. What can you say about your next rival Michel Silva?
RB: “If we talk about his finishing skills, he is more dangerous than my previous opponent, for sure. He knows how to surprise opponents, but his physical condition and cardio are not that good. The last Brazilian I fought promised to knock me out. This one is sure he’ll make me tap out. I’m looking forward to it!
“It’s not my goal to always choke my opponents out. I do not pay much attention to records or statistics. Pereira was really huge and strong. My main goal was to win the belt, not to submit him. I just step into The Rage and do my best to dominate every opponent. No matter what, I won’t stop!”
We know a lot about your grappling and wrestling skills, but what about your striking? You have no knockout victories in your record, yet. Would you like to change it?
RB: “All in good time. I’m not finished developing myself as a fighter. Something changes in every fight and in every fight camp, I learn new things and start understanding the nature of the fight better. In MMA, I’ve shown only half of my potential so far, so big things are coming.
How does it feel to come back to action as a champion, not as a challenger like last time?
RB: “I’m absolutely calm. When I had no belt, I was nervous, I desired to capture it. I was missing it, but now I have it and I feel calm. I’m ready to face anybody, who wishes to take it back from me.
Michel Silva defeated two previously unbeaten Russian prospects in his last fights and now he thinks he can do the same with me. Actually, he was losing the previous fight, and he was lucky to finish his opponent. I must give him credit for escaping that difficult situation. Talking about the title fight, I’m sure he is not going to be too relaxed, not every day in your life you have a chance to become the world champion.”
WKG & M-1 Challenge 100 will be live-streamed from China in high definition on www.M1Global.TV. Viewers will be able to watch the preliminary fights and main card by logging on to register at www.M1Global.TV. Fans may watch all the action on their computers, as well as on Android and Apple smart phones and tablets. WKG & M-1 Challenge 100 will also be is available on www.FITE.TV(preliminary card is free, $7.99 for the main card).