Sherdog reported this morning that Stikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi has parted ways with management company M-1 Global:
Mousasi, who won the Strikeforce light heavyweight title in August, said he has a fight contract directly with the U.S.-based promotion and will continue to compete for it. Mousasi said he also still plans to enter the first round of Dream’s light heavyweight grand prix, rumored to begin this May in Japan.
It's always news when a top fighter leaves his management company, but this one might have more significance than most business-side shakeups. There are two reasons that this matters:
- M-1 Global also represents (and it part-owned by) the world's #1 heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko
- Mousasi is not only one of the fastest-rising stars of the sport, he was the only other significant fighter represented by M-1 Global.
For the moment it appears that this move will have little noticeable difference for MMA fans as Mousasi will still fight for DREAM and Strikeforce. But the longer term implications are very interesting. Mousasi controversially claimed that he had been offered a contract by the UFC last year but M-1 hadn't informed him of the offer. UFC matchmaker Joe Silva later denied it. Here's what our Brent Brookhouse had to say at the time:
M-1 lied to Mousasi to get him to sign a deal they wanted him to sign. They looked out for their own interests instead of his. They violated their duty to the client. The fact that Joe said they didn't make an offer is actually worse. It means that rather than lying about the numbers offered they cut off any potential negotiations by claiming a poor offer was made before the UFC had a chance to establish a starting point for negotiations.
K-1 LEGEND: While I understand this has more to do with Apy than it does you, what exactly happened with Gegard Mousasi and why did he believe he was offered a contract by the UFC? There are many conflicting stories and it’d be nice to have something to put the rumors to rest with.
Vadim Finkelstein: Well, I believe the UFC has never made an official offer. Moreover, it was simply impossible. By that time the deal with Strikeforce was successfully signed after 3-4 months of negotiations.
For me personally, Mousasi's break with M-1 Global raises the hope that Fedor Emelianenko himself will reconsider his relationships with them at the end of his current two fight deal with them.
Mousasi is his own man, and has said in the past that he's not especially close to Fedor. But fans can hope this is the first crack in the wall that has been keeping the world's #1 heavyweight out of the world's #1 promotion.