CHELYABINSK, Russia (May 29, 2018) – Undefeated M-1 Challenge middleweight champion Artem Frolov (10-0-0, M-1: 7-0-0) defends his title for the first time this Friday against American favorite Joe “Diesel” Riggs (47-17-1, M-1: 2-0-1) in the M-1 Challenge 93 co-featured event, in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Frolov has knocked out four of his opponents and submitted four others. Last October, Frolov captured the belt by defeating UFC veteran Caio Magalhaes, of Brazil, by unanimous decision and he needed a break to heal his injuries.
In 2016 you had three fights and last year you fought only twice. How many fights a year would you like to have in the future?
AF: “I would like to fight three times a year. I think this is the best number because it lets me have enough time for good recovery after fights and enough time for training camps. Of course, there are also some distraction factors, which do not let me fight more often like, for example, some amateur competitions where I fight from time to time.”
Your title fight against Caio Magalhaes was a hard trial for you. How difficult was that 25- minute brawl?
AF: “I knew the fight was going to be a tough confrontation because Caio is a great fighter with excellent striking skills. However, during the fight I found the best way to fight him and saw how I could get the victory. He impressed me with his firmness; he did not quit after I delivered many hard punches, so I must admit he has a big heart.”
When did you learn that you were going to fight Joe Riggs? What can you say about his skills?
AF: “Even before the title fight I knew that, if I won the belt, my first title defense would be against Joe Riggs. He drew my attention with his debut fight in M-1 Global. I checked his record, took a look at the list of the guys he had defeated, and understood that sooner or later we were going to meet in The Rage.
“Of course, in the last few months, I watched many of the Diesel’s fights. His main advantage is his experience, he has five times more fights than me. Riggs is a well-rounded fighter, his wrestling skills together with the excellent control skills on the ground, and powerful ground-and- pound are probably his main strengths. So, he is definitely a fighter of the ‘American school’.”
After capturing the title, you were mentioned among the top 20 best prospects in the world by the famous MMA magazine Fighters Only. What does it feel?
AF: I was flattered to be mentioned in the best prospects list, especially by a respected magazine like Fighters Only. Such recognition proves that you dedicate your life to MMA for a reason and that you have really achieved something. But I know that I have much work to do and a lot of things in my game to improve.”
Two weeks after your fight against Riggs there will be a contender fight between Mikhail Ragozin and Valery Myasnikov. Who do you think will be the winner? Which one of them would you like to fight?
AF: “I am acquainted with both these guys, so I would not like to fight either of them. I can’t say who is going to win this fight because they are both strong athletes and have their advantages. In my opinion the one who will have better cardio will win the fight.
“I would prefer to fight only the strongest foreigners, not fellow countrymen. You travel around the country, have camps in different places, make friends and one day you are told that you are fighting one of them. That is not the best feeling, trust me, so I’d like to fight the best athletes from other countries, so I can fight not only for myself, my gym and my city, but for the country, defending the honor of the national flag.”
You have the same number of wins by knockouts and submissions in your record. How would you like to end the upcoming fight?
AF: “I came to MMA as a wrestler, so it makes me happy that I am getting better at striking. However, it feels great to win via submission as well, especially when it is a beautiful one. As a matter of fact, any finish is awesome, because my family and friends are worried about me during the fight and I don’t like to make them worry too long. So, I prefer to finish the fights early.
Russian star Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko (56-10-1, 1 NC, M-1: 6-0-0) headlines M-1 Challenge 93 against Brazilian power-puncher Bruno Silva (17-6-0, M-1: 0-0-0).
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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