Although Russian star Sergei Kharitonov began his mixed martial arts career at the start of the new millennium – 15 years ago – he has shown no sign of slowing down of surrendering to retirement.
In fact, the Moscow native revealed that, following his M-1 Challenge 59 rematch against Kenny Garner, he would be interested in other big fights, as well as a title shot against heavyweight champ Marcin Tybura.
“I don’t turn down any fight,” Kharitonov told M-1 Global. “I’m still the only Russian fighter who defeated current UFC champ Fabricio Werdum. And I have a lot of wins over noticeable fighters such as Nogueira, Overeem, Arlovski, and Rua. They are elite MMA fighters, they are champions. I’ve never turned down any fight. If M-1 offers me a fight with Marcin Tybura. I will accept that fight immediately. I would accept it right now.”
Last November saw M-1 Global debut in Beijing, China for the first time in its near two-decade history with a heavyweight main event between Kharitonov and longtime favourite Kenny Garner. Following a back-and-forth affair for the better part of three rounds, the ringside doctor called the fight off in Kharitonov’s favour. While the fight was eventually won, it was a far more competitive affair than many expected and was far from Kharitonov’s best performance.
“I didn’t prepare well for that fight. I’d spent too much time to prepare for my kickboxing fight and was extremely exhausted. That was a risk but I gave my word to Vadim Finkelchtein (M-1 Global president) and M-1 to fight. So, I didn’t have a choice. Now it will all be different as I’ve just completed training camp and I’m ready.
Kharitonov even went so far as to invite his former foe Alistair Overeem to help him train in Thailand.
“Overeem is a Top-10 best heavyweight in the World. So, I think training with him was good for me and that it will show in my fight with Kenny. I did a lot to prepare myself for this fight and I hope to show a spectacular fight on July 3rd.”
Kharitanov is a veteran of promotions such as PRIDE Fighting Championships, DREAM and Strikeforce, where he holds wins over the likes of current UFC champion Fabricio Werdum, as well as Andrei Arlovski, Alistar Overeem and Pedro Rizzo. He is currently on a four-fight win streak dating back three years. His last loss took place under the Strikeforce banner against Josh Barnett in the heavyweight Grand Prix semi-final in 2011.
Given his recent success, it may be a while before Kharitonov decides to hang up his gloves for good.
“‘I’m young and I think that my fighting career is only at its beginning. I’m ready for big fights!”
M-1 Challenge 59 is scheduled to take place on Friday, July 3rd in Kazakhstan. The entire event is available via live stream at M1Global.tv.
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