Highly coveted and top-ranked mixed martial artist Fedor Emelianenko has signed a deal with M-1 according to a report from The Fight Network:
PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko has committed exclusively to the new ownership of M-1 Mix-Fight Championship, which has been purchased outright by an undisclosed American entertainment-related company, according to a source close to the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Established in 1997, the St. Petersburg-based M-1 held over 30 events under the ownership of Russian businessman Vadim Finkelstein, also the long-time manager of the much-sought-after Emelianenko. Finkelstein is also the proprietor of the Red Devil Sports Club, a facility and team that houses numerous Russian fighters, including PRIDE veteran Roman Zentsov and former UFC middleweight Andrei Semenov.
The source confirmed the new ownership has infused a substantial amount of capital into the organization. Finkelstein and others will stay on to assist in running the company, which will continue to promote under a variation of the M-1 name. The new M-1 will take more of a global stance, and Emelianenko (26-1) will headline its inaugural event as early as January or February, possibly in the U.S., the source said.
The UFC had been looking to sign Fedor since they purchased PRIDE earlier this year. Emelianenko is the reigning heavyweight champion of the recently disbanded organization and is widely regarded as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Earlier this year things looked hopeful of a deal being completed though things took a turn for the worse in recent months.
Recently, inactivity has plagued Emelianenko. He has fought just once in 2007, a submission win over Matt Lindland at a Bodog Fight event in April. The lack of fights has led many to question Fedor’s status as the top fighter in the world, though most expect he will remain in top form upon his return to competition.
Key to the agreement appears to be the entrance of a US-backed company who has pumped money into M-1 to sign Emelianenko. Though the specifics on the debut show and the company will not be released until later this month, some have speculated that Mark Cuban may be backing the company. He has recently expressed his interest in signing Fedor and will be launching his own promotion, HDNet Fights, this weekend in Dallas. At this point nothing is more than speculation, though given the vague details his name jumps out as one of the most likely candidates who could back a signing, and a promotion, of this magnitude.
Stay tuned to MMAFrenzy.com for more on the situation over the coming weeks and months…