There’s a lot to say about experience in mixed martial arts; even more can be said when you combine experience with precise, tactical striking and a versatile ground game. When Mairbek ‘Beckan’ Taisumov and Josh ‘Iron Heart’ Bacallao hook ‘em up at M-1 Challenge: Bennett vs. Garner on Friday, July 8th, all hell could bust loose in the ring. But before the action goes down from The Hangar in Costa Mesa, California, live on Showtime on Friday, July 8 at 11 p.m. ET/PT (Delayed on the West Coast), M-1 breaks down the battle.
Thanks to his aggressive fighting style, Mairbek ‘Beckan’ Taisumov is seemingly incapable of producing anything other than action-packed fights; without a doubt he’s one of the most entertaining fighters Europe has to offer and one of the many reasons why M-1’s 155-pound division is deep with talent.
Scrappy Florida native Josh “Iron Heart” Bacallao is often over-looked but his record is equally as decorated with submission, TKO and decision victories; his strategy is simple: put up technically sound performances and fight with heart.
At 23 years of age, Taisumov is highly talented. He improves with every outing and his hand speed, precision and versatility is more than impressive. A promising young striker, he’s racked up an impressive 14-3 record thanks to his highly aggressive offensive positioning, tactical stand-up and relentless ground and pound.
Also 23 years old, Bacallao’s 6-2 record is built upon tenacious, dedicated training. His core fundamental skills stem from his high school wrestling career, his stand up is solid and he has good jiu-jitsu. Although still early in his career, Bacallao’s proven to be a strong, explosive fighter with dangerous hands. His skills and heart are what have earned him the trip to M-1 Global’s sophomore card on Showtime and he has a tough fight ahead of him. A win would completely elevate his status in the lightweight division.
Taisumov won the 2010 M-1 Selection Western Europe lightweight tournament while putting on a striking and submission clinic, winning back-to-back-to-back first round finishes and quickly become a recognized name throughout the European MMA circuit.
Bacallao’s run through the 2010 M-1 Selection Americas tournament was nowhere near as glamorous in comparison; a controversial fight with Josh Key ended in a no-contest, advancing him to the semi-finals where he lost a tough spilt-decision to George Sheppard.
Based on what both fighters have shown in their respective outings, Taisumov throws faster combinations but his power is somewhat suspect after being unable to pound out Artiom Damkovsky during their lightweight title fight last October; his saving grace is his lethal, one-punch KO power which he unleashed in his recent bout against Yuri Ivlev. The advantage in striking goes to Taisumov.
As a physically bigger lightweight, Bacallao has an opportunity to counter Taisumov’s combinations and deliver heavier punishment to his body; if he can wear down Taisumov to the point where he’s more focussed on protecting his ribs and dropping his hands, Bacallao has the power to deliver a knockout blow. The challenge with this plan is that he needs to be weary of Taisumov’s power early on so as to not get knocked out himself.
From the canvas both men are equally versatile with strong wrestling and takedown skills; Taisumov has the edge from top position but Bacallao is more than capable of fighting off his back while looking for a submission thanks to his jiu-jitsu. It’s a coin flip if this fight goes to the mat.
The X-factor in their bout will be activity. Taisumov has remained extremely active, fighting six times through 2010 and five times through 2009. Bacallao was comparably active last year but his outing on July 8th marks nearly a year-long hiatus so if he sports any ring-rust, he’s got to shake it off quickly.
Taisumov should have to make little adjustment to his style when he enters the ring to face Bacallao; he’s more aggressive, faster and equally as versatile but he has to be aware of Bacallao’s power. If Taisumov delivers an A-game performance, it’s likely he’ll walk away with the win and climb closer to a shot at the belt. But don’t count out Bacallao; he’s got a ‘never-quit’ attitude and is a grinder. As both men aim to impose their will upon the other, Taisumov and Bacallao could deliver the card’s Fight of the Night.
M-1 Challenge: Bennett vs. Garner on Friday July 8th is headlined by the rematch between the 2010 M-1 Selection Americas Tournament heavyweight finalists Pat Bennett (4-2) and Kenny ‘Deuce’ Garner (6-3).