by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Following months of speculation, M-1 Global, LLC, a new mixed martial arts promotion owned by Sibling Sports, LLC announced on Monday that it had signed Fedor Emelianenko.
Earlier in the day, the promotion announced that MMA industry veteran Monte Cox has been tapped to head M-1 Global as its President and CEO.
In comments with MMAWeekly.com, Cox indicated that Emelianenko is the centerpiece in building the promotion to international proportions.
“We’re going to do shows in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. We’re truly going to be global,” he stated. “We’re going to have fighters from all different countries and Fedor is the perfect ambassador. He’s more famous right now in Russia and Japan than the U.S., but he could be MMA’s first true world superstar.”
Cox indicated Monday’s announcements were the initial steps for the promotion. There has been no opponent named for Emelianenko, no dates set, and no television deals in place, but all of that should be forthcoming soon now that Emelianenko is officially under contract.
“We’re looking for a television partner that we hope to get soon,” he said. “That’s going to dictate where we’re going to go and when. The goal is to open in the United States in February and we should have a date and an opponent soon.”
Josh Barnett and Mark Hunt are speculated to be high on the list of prospective opponents.
Cox indicated that M-1 Global has already stirred up quite a bit of interest from networks interested in doing a television deal including Home Box Office (HBO), which recently announced it had called off negotiations with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“We have meetings set up with HBO, Showtime and (Mark Cuban’s) HDNet,” he said. “Everyone has made it clear that they are interested. We need to pick the partner that gives us the most exposure.”
Aside from building around Emelianenko, Cox and Maxwell Mitchell, president and CEO of Sibling Holdings, the parent company of Sibling Sports, stressed that M-1 Global’s focus is to build a truly international organization and to work in partnership with other promoters.
“We’re not going to reserve our fighters to work just for us,” said Cox. “If the UFC gets Randy back and they call and want Fedor to fight, we’ll send him to the UFC.
“Fedor and his manager believe he is the best in the world. The only way to show that is to let him fight the best in the world. We don’t just want him to be the best in our organization.
“We really want to work with all of the other organizations. People give that lip service, but we’re already in contact with other organizations … I think that is where MMA has to head. I think a lot of the organizations out there are ready to join us in that and I think you’ll see a lot of other organizations working with us.”
Maxwell backed that up saying, “In Fedor’s contract with M-1 Global, we have a clause to offer the UFC champion $1,000,000 over and above what the UFC would offer their champion to fight Fedor, and $1,000,000 to the winner of that fight over the general purse for that fight.”
Questioned about the difficulties that M-1 Global will face considering the stranglehold that the UFC has on the majority of fighters in the industry and its unwillingness to share; Maxwell took a far-reaching approach in his response.
“You’re taking a snapshot of the stranglehold the UFC has on the talent. We are thrilled that we have the ability to present to the public the No. 1 fighter in the world, because I think everybody wants to be able to offer their audience the best in the world. We have that. It’s a pretty good place to start,” he stated.
“I also think that there are a lot of UFC fighters when their contract expires, who will be looking to sign with other organizations that treat them in a different manner. They will want to sign with our organization because of the tremendous respect that they hold for Fedor as a fighter and an individual.”
That’s a lot to pin on the investment in one fighter, but Maxwell believes M-1 Global “can take the foundation of mixed martial arts that has been established by companies such as the UFC and Pride and K-1 and ProElite … and sprint into the gun lap and take mixed martial arts to a place where it is appreciated and seen as a sport throughout the world.
“We plan to change the face of this sport to where it becomes a part of the world culture.”
–M-1 Global plans to announce a stable of contracted fighters within the next week to ten days.
– Planning a minimum of three events in Europe, Russia, and Asia in 2008. Locations being considered include cities in Korea, Macau, Tokyo, Amsterdam, St. Petersburg, and Moscow.
– The rules that fights will take place under have yet to be determined. According to Cox, M-1 Global wants to come up with one set of rules that can be used anywhere.