The Fight Network is reporting that Fedor Emelianenko has committed to the M-1 organization, which was until recently owned by Vadim Finkelstein, Fedor’s longtime friend and manager. Now M-1 has apparently been sold to an unnamed American company with plenty of cash to throw around in the interest of expanding the organization’s reach, and Emelianenko is their first big score.
I’m not sure what this means for Fedor except that we won’t get to see him fight Randy Couture any time soon. The UFC insists on exclusive contracts, which was reportedly one of the obstacles to getting the deal done with Fedor in the first place. He wanted the freedom to compete in Russian Sambo tournaments back home, the UFC didn’t want to risk it, and now Fedor is signing with a company that will still be run in large part by his own manager.
I’d be lying if I said I weren’t more than a little disappointed. It sounds like this American company probably bought M-1 in part because they could get Fedor in a kind of package deal, but having a great fighter means nothing if you don’t have anyone for him to fight. Of course they’ll dig up someone, but if it isn’t a top ten heavyweight (and depending on whose rankings you use, at least seven or eight of them are in the UFC) then it’s hard for the match to seem legitimately competitive.
You can’t fault Fedor for wanting to do what’s best for his pocketbook and those of his friends, but it’s still a letdown. The big question now is what will M-1, under its new American ownership, do with their new star in their new organization? Whatever it is, I hope it ends up on TV somewhere. Just like I hope the name Mark Coleman isn’t involved.