M-1 Challenge featherweight champion Nate “The Train” Landwehr will make his first title defense December 15, headlining M-1 Global’s final event of the year – M-1 Challenge Battle in Atyrau- versus challenger Andrey “Iron” Lezhnev, in Atyrau, Kazakhstan.

M-1 Challenge Battle in Atyrau will be live-streamed from Kazakhstan in high definition on www.M1Global.TV. Viewers will be able to watch the preliminary fights and main card by logging on to register at www.M1Global.TV. Fans may watch all the action on their computers, as well as on Android and Apple smart phones and tablets. M-1 Challenge 97 will also be is available onwww.FITE.TV(preliminary card is free, $7.99 for the main card).

This will mark the first M-1 Global show in Kazakhstan in three years, since M-1 Challenge 59: Battle of the Nomads 5 in Astana, in which Russian star Sergei Kharitonov knocked out American Kenny Garner in the first round.

The 30-year-old Landwehr (11-2-0, M-1: 3-0-0), fighting out of the Nashville suburb of Clarksville, Tennessee, captured the coveted M-1 Challenge featherweight title belt this past June at M-1 Challenge 95 in Nazran, Ingushetia, Russia. The entertaining American fighter stopped defending champion Khamzat Dalgiev on punches in the second round. Dalgiev was making his first title defense, after he shocked the MMA world by knocking out longtime M-1 champion Ivan Buchinger in the opening round.

In two other M-1 fights that set-up his title shot, Landwehr won a split decision over Viktor Kolesnik at M-1 Challenge 85, preceded by a third-round stoppage of Mikhail Korobkov via punches at M-1 Challenge 83.

“Make no mistake,” Lanwehr said, “I want to put an ass whooping on everyone in the division. Lezhnev is just the next in line. Don’t think of me as just the champion, think of me as the baddest S.O.B that can make 145 pounds. I will be coming at him as if I am still a hungry challenger trying to make a statement to become a champion.

“I would love to have a tournament with all the contenders. We’d all fight multiple times on one night against everyone and the last man standing is crowned King. But, for now, I will fight who M-1 feels is the next contender. If you have a problem with that, then it means you are not as impressive as a fighter as you think. Because I convinced them in two fights that I was the one for the job and I got the job done in my third (M-1) fight.

Fighting out of Ukraine, Lezhnev (18-7-0, M-1; 6-3-0) earned this title shot by winning nine of his last 10 fights, including the last three in a row. His victims include another U.S., Lee “American Bulldog” Morrison, who lost a unanimous decision to Lezhnev at M-1 Challenge 69 in 2016.

“Landwehr is a typical brawler with nice cardio,” Lezhnev commented. “Everybody who plays by his rules loses. He is also very provocative, he loves creating the hype around him. For a long time, he tried to avoid this fight, challenging guys who passed their prime, because he understood he had no chances against me. But now the time has come to beat that hype out of him.”

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