According to Steve Sievert of the Houston Chronicle, the UFC was offered a deal that would bring Fedor to the UFC to fight Randy Couture as part of a co-promotion between the two organizations. While this seems like a dream to many fans of mixed martial arts, the UFC rejected that offer. With that said, let’s look at the pros and cons that possibly led to this decision. Did the UFC simply say that they just don’t do co-promotions? Was there consideration in the possibility only to be dumped by specific reasoning?
The pros for M-1 and the UFC
For the UFC, the pros of this type of deal aren’t completely revealed by just looking at the fight on paper. First, Couture is a legend in the UFC. If he brought his A-game to a fight with Fedor and won the contest, the UFC would be sitting pretty. Not only would they have the fighter that defeated “The Last Emperor”, but Dana White would most likely make the generalization that the UFC has far superior fighters to the former PRIDE organization.
Leading up the event, the marketing and promotion of arguably the UFC’s greatest fighter against the relentless, powerful, and nearly impossible to beat Fedor Emelianenko could garner record buy rates, although the UFC would most likely not promote Fedor well. It would take joint marketing from both promotions to really take full advantage of the PPV aspect. Nonetheless, the UFC would make a signifcant payday on the event along with some solid main card battles.
M-1 has the most potential to come out on top in this course of events, which may be the reason why the UFC simply said “no”. First and foremost, what happens if Fedor dismantles Couture? Will that garner some interest in seeing him fight on U.S. cards in a different promotion from fans? It may to an extent. Mostly due to the availability of the cards. Fedor absolutely dominated one of the best Heavyweight fighters that the UFC has seen recently could garner up support for the new M-1 Global and giving it some interest here in the States, but we may never be sure to what extent since the event won’t be happening.
It could legitimize Fedor’s status as the best fighter in the world and cause fighters from the UFC to look toward fighting Fedor as well, creating interest in future co-promotions or fighters leaving toward the end of their UFC stints to take on Fedor. This is very doubtful, but always a possibility. It’s evident that for M-1, a win by Fedor would give them exposure, a claim to the best fighter in the world inside their promotion, and the ability to have sponsors see Fedor and put their money into that promotion
The cons for M-1 and the UFC
The most obvious cons for both organizations is having their fighter lose to an opponent outside the organization. With no ability to turn around and promote the other fighter, it is definitely a problem for any promotion matching an equally great fighter against one of their own to allow a one-fight co-promotion. The biggest con for M-1 is obviously that Fedor being defeated would completely ruin the promotions credibility of having the best fighter in the world inside it. It may also stop other fighters from wanting to meet him in the cage or ring. Couture has stated in some interviews that he would not pursue Fedor is he falls before he reaches him. Other fighters may use that same mentality if Couture takes out Fedor.
With less chance of landing huge heavyweight talent and with no news on potential talent coming into the organization yet, we really have no gauge for how profound a loss would be for the organization. We can all agree that it would be devastating, but would it sink the organization? It’s possible.
If Couture loses a battle with Fedor, the UFC doesn’t have a lot of disadvantages. Couture is on the downside in his career in terms of age. He’s fought at a tremendously high level, but many fans would simply attribute his loss to old age. The only real disadvantage to the UFC is the potential hype it creates for M-1. It isn’t a high cost for a Couture loss however. The UFC will still have the best fighters in the world at their disposal, and will most likely continue to maintain that roster.
Either way you look at it, the debate as to whether or not this deal would have been beneficial for both promotions if it had happened isn’t really a debate. The UFC doesn’t seem to benefit extraordinarily in this deal. They also don’t seem to lose much either, which is great for them, but it gives M-1 more upside.
Let’s just keep this simple. Obviously, the UFC doesn’t want to acknowledge that another organization has what it wants. It won’t help out other organizations expose their name either. That’s the number 1 reason why this deal did not happen.
If we want to speculate a few other reasons, look at the pros and cons. The UFC gains to make a lot of money, but at the expense of acknowledging another promotion and giving casual fans a view at one of the most destructive forces out there. That could possibly help sell M-1 in the States by allowing more fans to see Fedor than his HDNet appearance at New Year’s Eve. In the end, the card probably wouldn’t make more money than a regular UFC event, and the UFC could probably produce its own card without Fedor that would make just as much if not more money than that type of event.
M-1 seems to have overextended their thinking in the offering of the deal. It looks as if they feel that a Fedor win would propel their standing, when it only helps slightly in exposing Fedor to the casual fanbase. They stand to lose much more than they will gain. The UFC seems to gain little, lose little, but will have helped M-1 at least get some exposure. That is something we know the UFC never wants to do. Look for this clash of the titans to occur in M-1 near the end of the year, or not at all unless the UFC changes their stance. The UFC could also slap a court battle on Couture toward the end of his contract if he decides to fight Fedor for a different promotion. One huge mess that the UFC really doesn’t want to deal with right now, but will eventually cross that road.