The exact details of what went down at an infamous, ill-fated meeting between the UFC, M-1 Global and Fedor Emelianenko on an island in 2009 has never been fully disclosed, but the fighters manager and co-founder of the Russian fight promotion, Vadim Finkelchtein has shed new light on the matter.
UFC President Dana White has always maintained that they offered the Russian heavyweight legend the most lucrative deal in the history of the company, but according to Finkelchtein there was more to it than that.
”They made us an offer. They wanted to buy M-1,” Finkelchtein tells prosport-online.ru.
That’s something White has never mentioned in his version of the meeting, though like the Fedor deal, it seems that this proposal was shut down pretty quickly.
“Sergei Matvienko decided not to sell,” Finkelchtein reveals. “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.”
Interestingly, Finkelchtein claims that if he had been in a position to make the decision at the time he’s not sure what he would have done, and admits he may have chosen to sell up.
Having said that, Finkelchtein states that he turned down another offer from the UFC in 2014 to buy the rights to the M-1 Global fight library for their UFC Fight Pass subscription service.
”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.”
There’s been a bitter rivalry between White and Finkelchtein for many years, so it’s no great surprise that they’ve never been able to do any kind of business together up to this point.
Even as recently as last month Finkelchtein expressed his anger when the UFC announced a landmark TV deal in Russia with one of their leading channels, VGTRK.
”I can not be happy that Russia’s main sports broadcaster pays an amount under ether broadcast fights western promotion,” Finkelchtein told sportbox.ru at the time. “I agree that it is necessary to show the fighting Russian athletes, performing overseas, but not the whole tournament completely, where, for example, stands one Russian.
“Russian TV channels should support primarily Russian promotion. To date, we are able to provide TV quality material, we have a lot of their product, which is not worse than the Western.”
The UFC’s arrival may weaken M-1 Global’s own position in the country and the promotion isn’t as strong as it once was when Fedor was still fighting and they enjoyed a high profile partnership with Strikeforce, but Finkelchtein isn’t ready to throw in the towel yet.
“In general, I spent many years on this project and I cannot just leave it,” he tells pro-sport-online.ru. “Though, probably, there are a million other businesses 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.”