Last Wednesday, to the delight of Russian fans in attendance, adopted son Stephan Puetz defended his light-heavyweight championship with a stunning TKO victory over challenger Valery Myasnikov at the M-1 Challenge 54/ACB 12 event in St. Petersburg.
It was a dominant performance; the German’s second such showing this year alone. After taking part in a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate fight against Viktor Nemkov at the start of 2014, a fight that raised his stock to fans in M-1 Global’s home base in St. Petersburg, the newly minted champion defended his title several months later with a submission victory over Luis Fernando Miranda.
With Myasnikov, the result was much of the same; Puetz stalked his opponent for the better part of two rounds, before taking him down and forced a referee stoppage following a barrage of punches and vicious ground and pound.
“The gameplan was to remain standing for the first while; make some openings for takedowns and the clinch game,” Puetz told BloodyElbow.com while in St. Petersburg. “I really appreciate the clinch game; it is my game and specialty. But then I got a little cut and we don’t want to take any risks due to that. If the cut got opened then it would have been worse and the fight could have changed.
“I was going for the takedown and decided to work with hard ground and pound instead because we knew he was not that experienced on the ground. It was a good decision.”
A calculated one at the very least; while many on the regional scene have shown raw talent and potential, Puetz harnessed his inner abilities and transformed them into impeccable gameplans tailor-made for each opponent.
“We always really analyze our opponents,” Puetz explained. “My team always breaks down the opponents and design really strong gameplans for me – sticking to my techniques and really keeping me prepared for the fights; each opponent (warrants) another gameplan specific to him. I always try to be a well-rounded fighter; to be confident in all aspects of the game.”
If his fighting ability was not enough to attract attention, Puetz stands at 6’6″ and maintains a godlike physique. In turn, he has branded himself as such; he wears Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator sunglasses, dubbed himself ‘T800′ and uses his catchphrases on pre-fight promos. He even walks out to the Game of Thrones theme song.
“The ‘T800′ nickname stems from a lot of things. First of all, I generally like Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. As a person, I really appreciate his mindset, his hunger for success – he came from nothing and he reached all the goals he set for himself. He wants to be a winner and I want to be a winner as well. I am always confident about getting the win.
“That is my highest goal – to win, to reach my goals and he is my inspiration for doing so. I am really impressed with that person and, of course, the movies as well.”
Just three fights into his stint with M-1 Global, Puetz confirmed that he has no intention of leaving the promotion anytime soon. Not only has the Russian audience embraced him as one of their own, but over time, he has grown fond of cities such as St. Petersburg and fighting in front of European audiences.
However, given his ambition to climb the light-heavyweight ranks and prove that he is one of the top fighters in his weight class, Puetz knows his journey will lead him down various paths; it is up to him to select which one will reap the rewards.
“I really like fighting in Russia and for M-1 Global. I like to explore new places and fight in new countries. The career of a fighter is very short; so you have to take every possibility to get attention and success. You have to prove how strong you are and have the necessary intuition. Generally, I am open to every idea.”
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