Luigi Fioravanti may be out of sight to most North American fight fans, but he is certainly not out of mind.

“The Italian Tank” has been in the MMA game for over 11 years and has battled some big names along the way such as Dave Menne, Diego Sanchez, and Anthony Johnson. The days of Fioravanti being front and center were seemingly over after three straight losses forced him to re-evaluate and take all of 2012 off.

Back since a comeback in 2013, Fioravanti has gone 5-2 – the last two of those victories coming in what would generously be called ‘enemy territory.’ Yet the former U.S. Marine who took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom has found new life and felt very comfortable fighting for M-1 in Russia and in countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.

“People have misconceptions about these foreign countries,” Fioravanti told The MMA Corner. “They are very beautiful, developed and stable. Being there it’s like any other major MMA promotion.

“It is not scary at all. It’s actually safe. There are probably more unsafe areas in some U.S. cities than over there.”

More than being in those countries to compete, the hardest part of fighting in Eastern Europe is actually getting there. But once the Orlando, Florida, native arrives, it’s business as usual and a similar routine as though in very different surroundings.

“The flights are long. We usually have connecting flights in Germany and then we get picked up and taken to our hotels,” said Fioravanti. “The food is good. They have restaurants just like in the U.S. Throughout the week we will do photo shoots and interviews. They have workout facilities and everything scheduled. M-1 is very organized.”

Fioravanti made his first trip into M-1 territory trekking to Moscow back in 2011. He was invited back three years later as his career was restarting with some success. Upon his return in St. Petersburg, Russia, Fioravanti blasted Ruslan Khaskhanov, who had won three of his last four at the time, with a first-round knockout.

Two months later, Fioravanti ventured into Tbilisi, Georgia, and lost by decision, but returning five months after that, he stopped previously undefeated high-end prospect Sergey Kovalev with a second-round submission in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The trips have been fruitful in terms of victories, paychecks, and seeing the world.

“The people are friendly in every country I have visited,” said Fioravanti. “They are safe. I’ve been able to go off and explore these places on my own.

“Kazakhstan is very nice and had beautiful architecture. Russia is a beautiful country. I love St. Petersburg. They have amazing buildings and museums.”

A former American serviceman might not necessarily be welcomed in these countries, but Fioravanti has welcomed the experience and been treated with the utmost respect. Part of that, he explained, is from the deep passion that many of the fans has via their own participation sports and in particular martial arts.

“They know what it’s like to win and lose,” said Fioravanti. “Fighting overseas against a fighter from that specific country, they’re going to have a fan base just like in any other country. I’ve never been booed and some will cheer for me.”

The American Top Team product is enjoying his late-in-career resurgence. How long it lasts for the now 34-year-old is up in the air but if Fioravanti is still being flown into battle, he’s down for the fight.

“I like to fight compete. It’s fun for me,” he said. “As long as I’m healthy, I’ll keep going. I’ve been better with my training. I would like to fight in North America but I’m happy where I’m at with M-1. They take care of me. I like to travel and see different places.”

About The Author

Scott Zerr
Staff Writer

Scott joins The MMA Corner having spent the last 14 years in mixed martial arts as Director of Media & Fighter Relations for the Maximum Fighting Championship. He will provide The MMA Corner with insight on breaking news in the sport, plus an insider's perspective on business developments, matchmaking, fighter signings, and much more. In addition to his longtime work in MMA, Scott was a sports reporter before moving into media relations and marketing. After growing up and working in Edmonton, Alberta, Scott has since moved to Bakersfield, California to be with his wife Christina (an avid fight fan, thank goodness) and kids.