UFC President Dana White had always been candid about his interest in signing Fedor Emelianenko back in 2009, and never shied away from expressing his vehement dislike for the Russian legend's management team. However, according to Fedor's longtime manager Vadim Finkelchtein, several important details have been left out of the picture.
Back in the summer of 2009, when the UFC was still salivating at the though of producing a Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko superfight, an infamous meeting took place on an Island - one that saw Vadim, Fedor, as well as M-1's main financial supporter Sergei Matvienko meet with UFC President Dana White, as well as CEO Lorenzo Fertitta to negotiate a deal. While this is an infamous tale that was later retold by White, most fans assumed that the negotiation was simply focused on Fedor joining the UFC.
According to Vadim, the UFC was also interested in purchasing M-1 Global.
"Fedor used to rest on that island," Vadim told prosport-online.ru. "The UFC wanted to talk, so I offered to meet on this island. And there they made us an offer. They wanted to buy M-1."
Negotiations hit a stalemate quickly, and both sides have different retellings of the story; White claims to have offered Fedor the most lucrative deal in the history of the promotion, while Vadim deems half of what White said incorrect. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle.
White and Fertitta flew back to Las Vegas with neither a contract with Fedor, nor a deal to purchase M-1 Global.
"Sergei Matvienko decided not to sell." Vadim explained. "At that time, he was the main founder of us; our main financier of the west. Sergei later left M-1 in 2010 or 2011. I think the UFC felt our potential when Matvienko was with us. We did fights in the United States, and our tournaments were shown in 140 countries."
At the time of the decision, Vadim was the co-founder of the promotion, and not the man at the helm of the company. Had the decision to sell M-1 to the UFC been his alone, he is not certain what his response would have been.
"I do not know, honestly. Maybe I would have sold. The proposal was normal."
Five years later, however, the decision to maintain control of his product was a far simpler one to make. When the UFC approached M-1 to purchase its video library for Fight Pass, Vadim was simply not interested in any offer.
"Some time ago, there came an offer to sell my entire video library for their mobile platform. But I do not want to sell it. Why? I have my own platform."
MMA may not be the most profitable of businesses to invest in, but Vadim has been a part of M-1 since its inception over 17 years ago. Parting ways with any portion of it will never be an easy decision.
"In general, I spent many years on this project and I cannot just leave it. Though, probably, there are a million other businesses (not MMA) that would give me more. But M-1 is my life's work. I know what I'm doing - unlike other promotions that go on the market with noise. I quietly walk down the stairs."