“East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’,
We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done.
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ ‘Bandit’ run.”
This reminded me of the lyrics to the Smokey and the Bandit theme song, because this is a deal they said could not be done. But here we have it, a partnership between the UFC and the guys UFC president Dana White once referred to as those “crazy Russians”. We actually heard about this deal a few weeks ago from some inside sources but were waiting for the official announcement because frankly we weren’t sure this is a deal that could get done. However, now that it’s official, we can also say we’ve heard the rumor that M-1 has actually purchased a significant stake in the UFC, although there’s no mention of that in this official press release from M-1:
The Russian-Chinese investment fund, Mubadala Investment Company, and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have jointly announced the foundation of UFC Russia. The new company will promote MMA and organize new shows in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). M-1 Global is going to be a partner, responsible for scouting and signing Russian athletes to prepare them to fight in the UFC. M-1 Challenge champions will have a unique opportunity to sign contracts with the UFC.
“We are looking forward to further cooperation with the UFC and the Russian-Chinese investment fund working on developing young Russian talents,” M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelchtein said. “This partnership will benefit our sport very much. MMA is a very popular sport and cooperation of the UFC, investment fund and M-1 Global can take MMA in Russia to a new level. Competition in M-1 Global is going to be even tougher and that means we are going to see even more excellent and spectacular fights!”
This is big news and could have wide-ranging ramifications for the industry. Fight fans should keep an eye on M-1 and what they are doing, especially with their new M-1 Global USA efforts.