With no major U.S.-based organization offering an MMA card this July 4 weekend, the M-1 Challenge takes center stage.
Billed as the "World Cup of Mixed Martial Arts," the M-1 Challenge pits MMA clubs from different countries against each other. Each team consists of five athletes with one in each weight class ranging from lightweight to heavyweight.
The latest destination for this weekend's competition is Seoul, Korea, where six teams are in action. The slated matchups are Bulgaria (1-1) vs. Finland (1-1), USA West (2-0) vs. Imperial Russia (0-2), and Brazil Naja (1-1) vs. Korea.
The M-1 Challenge operates as a global minor league MMA system, and if successful, fighters can work their way to the main stage of the sport as elite fighters such as
With that said, here's a look at five of the individual matches that feature potential MMA stars:
Tulirinta is even better then his his 11-3 indicates. Already a talented submission fighter, his stand-up game has made remarkable strides this season and he is the best welterweight in this year's M-1 Challenge. With the division outside of the UFC lacking, Tulirinta could be ready now.
Tulirinta did not suffer a scratch during his 11-second TKO win over USA East's
Eleven of Santana's 12 wins are by armbar submission. "The Arm Collector" is looking to add to that list and with a win over Gabdullin, but the Russian's strong Sambo background and four pro wins coming via submission could provide trouble for Santana.
Don't be surprised if we see some of Santana's stand-up game having improved, as his striking skills have begun to evolve thanks to sparring with USA West heavyweight
After competing for ShoXC and once for the M-1 Challenge, Del Rosario finds himself with a perfect 6-0 record and a reputation for being one of the most dynamic strikers in the heavyweight division. A member of
If his submission skills can rival his stand-up ability, Del Rosario will move one step closer to becoming a legitimate title contender, possibly landing him a high-profile fight under the Affliction or Strikeforce banner.
But a victory over Grishin won't come easy, as the Russian is among the top prospects in the new generation of Team Imperial fighters.
A Nova Uniao fighter, Dias made his M-1 Challenge debut in May during an event in Sao Paulo against fellow M-1 Challenge rookie
Though the South Korean holds an impressive record, he has yet to earn an M-1 win; He took a decision loss to USA West's
Kim is one of the most charismatic fighters in the Challenge, and he's also a tremendous fighter who, without question, rates among the top prospects in this year's competition. The Sunhu Gym product holds notable victories over the likes of
Moving up to 170, Kim seems poised for a thrilling matchup against Pamplona, who has just one loss in his last 12 fights. Pamplona is looking to take his career to the next level following impressive wins over
Rising lightweight prospect Jansen improved to 11-0 after a hard fought decision victory over Yui Chul Nam during April's M-1 Challenge in Japan. The Team Quest member has already fought three times this year, capturing wins over
Jansen wasn't originally part of the 2009 roster with Palace Fighting Championships 155-pound champion
The move from Cobb to Jansen has paid dividends for USA West, as Cobb was TKO'd by