Although the event was previously slated to take place in Los Angeles, California, the promotion has announced that the event will now take place at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, but is still set for the original date of August 28.
“The change in venues is unfortunate, however, the change was necessitated due to circumstances beyond our control,” recently explained M-1 Global Chief Operating Officer Joost Raimond. “We had a partner in Los Angeles that backed out of certain commitments. However, instead of letting fighters and fans down by canceling the event, we worked diligently to find a new location in Kansas City. At no point in time did we entertain the idea of canceling our first ‘Breakthrough’ event.”
With the new venue set for “M-1 Global: Breakthrough” there remained one major hurdle left to overcome, a new opponent for Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in the card’s main event. Apparently the other half of the main event, Don Frye, pulled himself from the card due to reasons unknown.
“Don Frye had a signed contract with M-1 and part of that signed commitment allowed us to change the venue if needed,” Raimond went on to state. “From our perspective, Don should still be in this fight. However, for reasons that we aren’t exactly sure of, he has backed out. Don still has not provided us with a clear reason as to why he is refusing to fight.
“We’ve heard rumors that he wasn’t happy with the location change but our television partner, Mo Lawal, and every other fighter scheduled for the event are satisfied with Kansas City so why isn’t it good enough for Don? Don also fought just a few short months ago in Lubbock, Texas. It just doesn’t make sense because the old Don Frye was willing to fight anyone, anywhere, and at anytime. Perhaps the fire is gone and he underestimated the challenge that ‘King Mo’ presents?”
Out steps Frye and in steps another former legend of the Octagon in “The Smashing Machine” Mark Kerr, who had already been in training for a bout and jumped at the opportunity to face off with a rising star as talented and marketable as Lawal.
“Kerr at one time was one of the best fighters on the planet,” said M-1 Global Vice President of Live Events Joe Kelly. “His fall from grace was documented publicly on the popular HBO documentary The Smashing Machine. A lot of people have written Mark Kerr off but if he’s able to beat Lawal on national television, suddenly he becomes a hot commodity again. Mark was already in training for a fight when we contacted him and I’m not exactly sure how hard Don was training. This will actually be a tougher fight for Lawal.”
Also announced for the event is a sparring exhibition match between Fedor Emelianenko and Gegard Mousasi, fellow Strikeforce heavyweights and sometimes training partners.
“We were blown away by just how popular Fedor’s exhibition vs. Aoki in Japan was,” revealed Raimond. “Fedor and Gegard have sparred many times together and the sessions have always been intense. Now fight fans watching on television and those attending live in Kansas City will get a rare glimpse at two of the best fighters in the world sparring each other.”