Once upon a time, it was the fervent desire of fans to have the UFC co-promote with Russian based organization, M-1, in the hopes of bringing Fedor Emelianenko over to fight virtually the entire UFC heavyweight division. Prime Fedor vs. [insert name here] has been one of the most talked about topics in MMA, to date. Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta, in their infinite wisdom, decided against any co-promotion, however, pre-Zuffa Strikeforce was more than happy to get into bed with them, and at great cost.
These days, you hardly hear a peep coming from M-1, especially since Fedor hung up his gloves for good. That silence has ended with president, Vadim Finklestein making a magnanimous gesture in his offer to help the UFC to hit the ground running in Russia. Vadim has put the offer to co-promote back on the table, and according to his recent interview with Combat Bear, the UFC won't be able to go very far without his help, even going so far as to dangle a modicum of hope for Fedor's return to action.
UFC will not go past M-1 in Russia, but I'm not with them in the conflict, I'm ready to talk and work. When I spoke about Lesnar, we discussed it. But Dana White is a difficult fellow, so we'll see. I don't think the UFC will hold fights very often in Russia, maybe once a year to promote, but Russia is not the right marked for them. I'm ready to give them my champions if we can come to an agreement. We have a lot of experience. I want my fighters to perform here and not move between organizations, like Vasilevsky(Former M-1 champion) did. He ran away from us to Bellator. Here's an excerpt from the interview:
Why don't you think Bellator is an elite organization?
Because from Bellator the good fighters move to UFC, and those that remain are not better than M-1 fighters. Forexample Zayats and Volkov were not the best fighters in the M-1 organization, but in Bellator they are perhaps the best. UFC is the best organization, but our level is higher than Bellator. I don't understand when he competes in America in low-level organizations that makes him much cooler than here in Russia. I just don't understand it.
How does the M-1 feel now that Fedor is gone?
We're doing great. We were never dependent on Fedor. Now we're doing the Grand Prix of heavyweights. The first round will be on April 9. in St. Petersburg and the semi-finals May 22 in Moscow, Crocus City -The largest business center in Russia. Our fighters are all very strong and they are very motivated for this tournament. We wanted to involve Sergey Kharitonov, but we have not yet come to an agreement.
I use every opportunity to convince Fedor to return. He still has more to show us.