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LA Times Says No Deal, The UFC’s Offer? (Update VI: M-1 Refutes Offer Claims, Strikeforce’s Offer?)

Fedor EmelianenkoA little over 24 hours ago, a headline on read “Fedor Emelianenko, UFC finalizing deal.”

My how quickly things can change because now their latest headline on the topic reads “No deal between UFC and Fedor Emelianenko.”

According to the report, negotiations came to a “quiet” and “cordial” end Wednesday. M-1 Global refused to relent on their demand for co-promotion despite an “unprecedented” offer from the UFC, which I’ll get to in a second, and thus, no deal. Vadim Finkelstein commented on the negotiations.

“The UFC sometimes calls us the crazy Russians, but we’re not that crazy,” Finkelchtein said. “I don’t understand the policy of the UFC. The UFC won’t be able to control the whole world. The market is so big. . . . The UFC proposal doesn’t give us a chance for us to do what we want to do.”

“They took a timeout and we took a timeout,” Finkelchtein said. “We will work only on co-promotion conditions.”

Sherdog has more from Finkelstein.

“Our offer was very simple,” said Finkelstein. “We offered to have a co-promotion — two fights, three fights, doesn’t matter. And we were ready to invest in that show together and to get the profit together. But the UFC made a different offer that was a very good offer. But the same offer (they made), we can actually make to their champion. We can also offer millions to them and one, two, three, four fights to them.”

“If we had such an offer two years ago which we got yesterday, maybe we would be (interested), but not in today’s situation –- we cannot accept that offer,”

How they think co-promoting is a reasonable demand is beyond me. In terms of event promotion, what exactly do they bring to the table? They say they want to share in the expenses and profits. Well, were they doing that with Affliction because if that was the case, they were only losing money which I very much doubt. And how are they in a more favorable position today? If anything, the UFC is in an even more dominant position than they were two years ago.

And it only gets better. And here’s the UFC’s alleged offer via Carmichael Dave on the Sherdog forum via Bloody Elbow:

- The UFC offered Fedor a 6 fight, 30 million dollar contract. That’s 5 mil a fight

– The UFC offered Fedor an immediate title shot

– Lesnar/Fedor would be the biggest PPV in MMA history (we assume), and the UFC offered M-1 Global a cut of the PPV on top of Fedor’s purse.

– Fedor was free to wear as many M-1 logoed items as he wished.

– The UFC also relented on allowing Fedor to compete in combat sambo.

Carmichael Dave made it a point to say on his KHTK radio show tonight that he verified these numbers with sources from both the UFC and M-1 Global and is “more than reasonably sure they are fact.” He also said though he fully expects M-1 to deny his report or reveal more details to help sway public opinion in their favor, and believes there’s more to the story he’s not hearing.

As for what he did report, it’s far more than I think anyone ever expected. I can’t imagine Strikeforce or any other promotion even coming to close to matching it. Having the ability to wear the M-1 Global logo in the Octagon would likely give them more exposure than co-promoting with any other organization could (if that’s what this is really about). It just doesn’t make sense why they wouldn’t take it.

Is it about control? The champion’s clause? Fedor’s likeness? Is everything we’re hearing all propaganda in a PR battle to leverage negotiations? Is M-1 just that damn crazy? Something’s not adding up, and my guess at this point is there’s a lot more to this story we’re not hearing nor is it over.

Update: Great, I missed this little nugget of “oh, WTF” in the Sherdog report.

Strikeforce is one promotion willing to co-promote with M-1 Global. Scott Coker, Strikeforce’s CEO, told that it was his understanding that Emelianenko and M-1 Global have “four or five offers on the table,” including ones from boxing promotions and television networks. Coker said he would continue his own talks with Finkelstein in the next couple of weeks. Finkelstein and Emelianenko, who has partial ownership in M-1 Global, said they will begin their trek back to Russia Wednesday night.

Finkelstein did not rule out further discussions with the UFC, though it appears that no timetable has been set.

“Maybe not now,” Finkelstein said, “but I think later there will be some progress.”

Awesome. I seriously hope M-1’s Fighting Fedor reality show isn’t still in their master plan too.

Update 2: Jonathan Snowden says he did a little digging into the contract the UFC offered. According to his sources which he says come from both sides of the table, the deal isn’t quite as insane as it looks. (Via Bloody Elbow)

“The numbers being floated there are a little misleading. The UFC’s offer of $30 million over six fights isn’t a guarantee,” Snowden learned from a source. “The number is based on Zuffa’s projections of what Fedor’s take of the PPV money would be, and the numbers they are projecting are based on selling a ton of PPV’s. The actual guarantee for Fedor is much more modest. It’s true that if business stays at record levels Fedor could walk away with $30 million. But that is no guarantee.”

Basically, as Snowden contests in the BE comments, in order for Fedor to earn $5 million a fight, his pay-per-views would have to perform at UFC 100 levels.

Update 3: Ariel Helwani says a source he spoke to said the offer was a three-fight deal with a guarantee of less than $2 million per fight. He believes Snowden’s report is possible though.

By the way, I think it’s starting to become clear at this point that no one really knows for sure what the truth is about any part of this story. I’m not blaming any of the reporters, but it’s looking like there’s a lot of misinformation being given out by both camps. I’ll keep updating you guys on the story but I’d caution you to take everything we’re hearing with a grain of salt until an official announcement is made.

Update 4: M-1 CEO Joost Raimond is now giving M-1’s version of the UFC’s offer, and as expected, it’s much different than the original report which he says is “completely ludicrous.” Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Number of fights were not specified yet.
  • The “guaranteed” dollar amount was less than what Fedor made “before.” Half of the reported $5 million is even “way out of range.”
  • Possibility for cut of the pay-per-view profits was presented on top of guaranteed pay, but no other profit-sharing incentives were offered.
  • A number of provisions attached that made it “very much less interesting.” Many involved the branding of M-1 within the UFC organization.
  • Immediate title shot was not specified.
  • The UFC would allow Fedor to compete in combat sambo.
  • Fedor would be free to wear M-1 branded clothing.

Raimond reiterated that this was a “completely unsubstantiated rumor that the UFC has offered the best money for Fedor ever.” He also said this of the negotiations.

“We had a very professional, productive and respectful meeting with the UFC,” Raimond said. “I think both parties walked away (knowing) even though a deal wasn’t made, that a very decent meeting was had.”

Update 5: Bloody Elbow has the first reported version of Strikeforce’s offer to Fedor.

According to Chad Dukes of The Lavar Arrington Show With Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan and announced on air today, a source apparently is telling him that the deal Strikeforce has offered Fedor Emelianenko and M-1 would be for $1 million per fight: $500k from Strikeforce and $500k from CBS for 6 fights (not sure about what happens when he doesn’t fight on CBS or perhaps these are all CBS fights?). Any fight would be co-promoted with M-1 and the contract would be non-exclusive. While I was adamant yesterday about the UFC’s offer being excellent for Emelianenko, if these details are true the Strikeforce deal is excellent as well. It certainly isn’t as financially lucrative as what the UFC has put together, but the clear obstacle of co-promotion is entirely removed.

Don’t be surprised if Strikeforce denies or conflicting reports come out though. As a matter of fact, another site I’ve never heard of, Five Knuckles, has something slightly different. Like I said take it all with a grain of salt.

Update 6: Dave Meltzer says it’s all propaganda.

All I can say on this is both sides are putting out propaganda attempting to get the public to see things their way.  In the end the issue isn’t money to Fedor as much as control of Fedor and M-1 Global won’t give up that control unless they have no other alternative.  Right now, they still believe there are alternatives.

So far the UFC is definitely winning the PR battle. Not only is everything they’re putting out there making M-1/Fedor look bad, but damn near everything M-1’s putting out there is making M-1 and Fedor look bad too.

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Bellator 163: McGeary vs. Davis

Event Date: November 4, 2016
Broadcast: Spike

UFC Fight Night 98: Dos Anjos vs. Ferguson

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Broadcast: Pay-per-view, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass

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