Byron Byrd Welcomes Challenges M-1 and Moscow Bring
M-1 Selection Americas light heavyweight champion Byron Byrd sees his next March 5th bout in Moscow as a challenge, but one that he welcomes. After coming out on top of the M-1 single elimination tournament last year in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the ATT knockout artist has his sights set on Russia.
Byrd, a fighter whose mixed martial arts career has played out primarily in America, both understands and looks forward to the dynamics of fighting abroad.
"I find [travel] challenging," said Byrd. "I always want to fight in as many different places in the world as I can. The cool part of the sport is that I get to travel to different locations, go to places, and see how the fans are. There's a lot to deal with, like the pressure of going over there, the time difference, and knowing that you're fighting a home town act. It's all a challenge but a challenge that I welcome."
The March 5th card is part of the M-1 Challenge series, which pits the winners and high-placers of the Selection events from different parts of the world against each other. The most recent Challenge series events have all taken place in Moscow, with the American standouts generally not performing as well as expected. Though some might feel intimidated by an arena where the red and the white and the blue has had trouble coming through, the hard luck of his American contemporaries is the last thing on Byrd's mind.
"Putting pressure on yourself like that just drains you," Byrd said. "I can't control what other people do. Unforunately [the other Americans] had a hard time. But I'm just going to go in there and fight the best way I know how to."
One issue that arose at the last M-1 Challenge in a bout between Team Bombsquad heavyweight Pat Bennett and Alexander Volkov was judging. Judges in Europe, as with many other regions around the world, are known to look at different aspects of the game than American judges. In Bennett's case, this led to a controversial draw that in front of the majority of US judges would have been a decided win for the American.
This judging dissonance is the one aspect of fighting abroad that Byrd admits is a concern. But he adds that these thoughts are not limited to bouts in Russia.
"[Judging] is one thing that is in the back of my mind," Byrd explained. " In any of my fights I never try to let it go to the judges. You never know what they are looking at or what they judge as good or bad. I always try to finish."
After some controversy with current M-1 Challenge light heavyweight champion Vyacheslav Vasilevsky announcing a drop to middleweight, it has not yet been officially announced who Byrd will be fighting in March. However, Byrd expressed that his first concern was that his opponent was healthy and that they "put on a great show for the paying customers."
"Win, lose, or draw I never want to be in a boring fight," said Byrd.
Photo: Byron Byrd after M-1 win (The Fight Nerd)