by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
Publicly, M-1 Global COO Joost Raimond is still bullish on the prospect of co-promoting with the UFC.
One-on-one, he admits his company’s calls have fallen on deaf ears.
“It’s an invitation we’ve been screaming on the tops of roofs for two years,” Raimond told MMAWeekly.com following the Los Angeles press conference for Affliction “Trilogy.”
Still, he made his pitch once again, both in New York and Los Angeles. His hope: to break the stalemate and bring M-1 Global and the UFC to the negotiating table. It was half challenge, half plea.
“I think one of our great competitors has always been the UFC and still is the UFC,” Raimond said Thursday in Hollywood. “I think there’s a big difference, though. Our standpoint towards MMA is that it’s all about the fights, it’s all about the athletes, it’s all about us trying to bring you the best fights possible, and bringing out the true champions.
“I’m not a sucker for statistics, but we did a little bit of homework, and we came up with an interesting fact. If you look at the UFC over history, if you include the interim heavyweight champions, they’ve had 17 champions in total. Mr. Fedor Emelianenko has done eight fights against UFC champions, against five different opponents. If we exclude his fights against Mr. Nogueira, who was a formidable opponent in his time, Fedor spent less than 15 minutes in the ring with these UFC champions and defeated them all. What we would like to see is that in future, we bring out the champions from any organization, whether it’s UFC or another organization, and we bring out the best fights.
“I’d like to reach out with an invitation to Mr. Dana White, Mr. Brock Lesnar, and Mr. Frank Mir to come out to our show, the Trilogy show, and I’m sure we can arrange some front seat tickets, and they can watch a real championship fight. Hopefully we can follow up in the same lines as what the UFC has done for Mr. Mirko Cro Cop in a one-fight deal. I think we can make that happen for other occasions, and we’d like to make that happen.”
Raimond said it’s been two years since an offer was on the table from the Las Vegas-based promotion. Emelianenko and manager Vadim Finkelstein then rejected the deal, saying it was too restrictive.
Fans and media continue to hound both companies with questions about a possible Octagon debut for the Russian star.
Raimond says M-1 Global and the UFC remain in contact, although no negotiations have taken place.
“There’s ongoing communication once and a while, but not always very specific,” he said. “It’s not that they come out with a true proposal. We have a standing invitation to bring out their fighters and match them up against fighters from our organization or other organizations to bring out the best fights.”
M-1’s hope is that fans will eventually force the UFC to make a deal.
“I think the only way that the UFC will perhaps open up a little bit, and allow their fighters to go elsewhere and compete is when the fans ask for it,” said Raimond. “It’s not going to happen if I ask for it, but if the fans ask for it, it may.”
Raimond laughed when informed of a viral campaign to chant Emelianenko’s name during UFC 100 next month.
“That would be a good idea,” he said. “That would be fun.”