by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
On Thursday, new cracks appeared in M-1 Global’s façade. Apy Echteld, a co-manager of Fedor Emelianenko and development executive in the upstart promotion, confirmed to ESPN’s Ryan Hockensmith that the top-ranked fighter and M-1 would be separating next week.
Emelianenko was M-1′s first talent acquisition when the consortium of Russian and American promoters came together in October of 2007.
The report on ESPN.com also stated that both Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White and Echteld would be open to discussions concerning the possibility of having Emelianenko face UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture in the Octagon.
M-1 President and CEO Monte Cox, however, was adamant that the Russian superstar is still a part of his promotion. “As of right now, M-1 Global and Fedor are still working together,” he told MMAWeekly.com.
Cox declined to comment about the ESPN article, but said M-1′s plans were still underway for its first event on American soil, a June 14 card at the Sears Center in the Chicago area, still expected to feature Emelianenko. The show has been rescheduled from a May 3 date at the Allstate Arena, also in the Chicago area.
M-1′s first venture with Emelianenko, a co-promotion with Fight Entertainment Group and other Japanese promoters on New Year’s Eve, was a success according to Cox. Since then, rumors of difficulties between the American and Russian factions of the partnership have persisted.
“But as of now, Fedor still belongs to M-1 Global,” stated Cox.