By Kelsey Mowatt; photo courtesy M-1 Global
Although Pat Bennett has been demonstrating why he’s a heavyweight prospect on the move, the former All-American wrestler is the first to concede that the hype surrounding his next opponent, M-1 Global Heavyweight Champion Guram Gugenishvili, is far more substantial. While Bennett will head into their upcoming July 8th bout with a combined pro-am MMA record of 7-2, Gugenishvili’s championship status and 11-0 record has turned more than a few heads throughout the sport.
“For one, this will be a championship fight and I really want a title,” Bennett told FCF while discussing the growing profile of his next opponent, “For two, yeah, he does have a lot of hype behind him. I think this is one of those fights that will put my name on the map. I’ve fought big fights before, my second pro fight was against the current Bellator champ Cole Konrad, so I’ve been there before against big competitors. I think this is going to be great. I don’t think he’s really been tested.”
Of course, Bennett believes he has the athletic abilities and skills to be the first man to defeat Gugenishvili. The Ukrainian has earned a reputation throughout his two year plus career for possessing solid wrestling skills and a threatening submission game, evidenced by the fact that ten of his eleven pro wins have come via tap-out. Bennett believes, however, that questions remain about Gugenishvili’s striking game. (Pictured: Bennett punching Alexander Volkov)
“He has a grappling background and he has a wrestling background, but stylistically I think I present problems for him,” said the Team Bombsquad heavyweight. “In all of his fights he’s been able to take the guy down; I’m not saying he won’t be able to take me down, but it’s a question of whether he’s going to be able to hold me down. Can he do what he needs to do to win? I think my wrestling is going to come into play, keep me out of bad positions, or he may not be able to take me down.”
“I’d like to utilize a little bit of everything,” Bennett added, who is coming off a unanimous decision win over Alexander Volkov at M-1 Challenge XXII in December. “I don’t think I’ve had a fight yet where I’ve been able to open out and use my striking, use my wrestling, so I think this is a great opportunity to do that.”
In fact, according to Bennett, the 6’2, 240lb. heavyweight began asking for a shot at Gugenishvili after the champ's most recent win.
“It’s kind of funny, I was a little surprised at first given the fact that I’ve only been with M-1 for a couple of fights, and on paper I don’t have that many fights,” said Bennett when asked for his reaction upon finding out he would be the man to face Gugenishvili in his U.S. debut. “After his last fight with Maxim Grishin I said to one of the M-1 guys ‘what do I have to do to get a fight with him?’ Then we found out a couple of weeks later that I was going to be fighting him. Like I said before, I just think stylistically I’m a good match-up for him.”
In addition to the fact that on July 8th Bennett will have an opportunity to win the M-1 Global title and become the first man to defeat Gugenishvili; the event will be broadcast across the U.S. on Showtime.
“I think it’s pretty sweet,” Bennett noted about the event, which does not have a confirmed venue or location yet. “I’ve been on TV before but this is going to be the headliner, so that’s huge at this point in my career. Headlining on Showtime means a lot to me. I know I’m going to have a lot of friends and family watching, so I’m going to do my best for them.”