M-1 Challenge middleweight champion Bruno “Blindado” Silva (19-6-0, M-1: 2-0-0) has relinquished his title belt and signed a mixed-martial-arts promotional contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Last summer, Mubadala Investment Company and UFC announced the formation of UFC Russia. to promote MMA and organize new events in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

M-1 Global is a partner responsible for scouting and signing Russian athletes to prepare them to fight in the UFC. M-1 Challenge champions such as Silva have a unique opportunity to sign contracts with the UFC.

Silva accomplished the two goals he had set before he turned 30: to be crowned World Champion and become a UFC fighter.

“I just signed with the UFC,” an ecstatic Silva announced, “I am very happy, and I want to thank M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelchtein. You have all my gratitude and respect. I also want to thank Lusen and Adrian Bakos, our partners in Russia, who walked side-by-side with us. Thank you to everyone in Russia who supported me and always treated me well. I love Russia and M-1. They changed my life. You have all my respect and gratitude. Russia and M-1, I love you!”

The 29-year-old Silva (19-6-0, M-1: 2-0-0), fighting out of Brazil, shocked the MMA world in his M-1 Global debut, when he knocked out Russian star Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko in the opening round at M-1 Challenge 93, last June 1 in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Silva, a heavy-handed Brazilian puncher, followed the Shlemenko shocker with an impressive title defense, stopping Artem Frolov on punches in the fourth round last November at M-1 Challenge 98, also in Chelyabinsk, to capture the M-1 Challenge middleweight title.

“Thank you M-1 Global for giving me an opportunity to demonstrate my work,” Silva concluded. “My fights in Russia were the biggest challenge of my life and I feel great gratitude and respect to Russia.”

Silva’s UFC debut is scheduled for June 22 at UFC Fight Night 154 versus another newly signed UFC fighter, Deron White (5-0-0), in Greenville, South Carolina.

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