At yesterday’s Affliction press conference, M-1 CEO Joost Raimond, in an effort to stir the MMA pot, reminded fans — as well as the UFC — that M-1 is willing to work with any organization to determine who the real champions are in each division.
He called out the UFC for choosing to keep its fighters amongst themselves, saying "We would like our best fighters from Affliction, from M-1 and from our partner organizations (Strikeforce) to come out against the best in the world, and if the UFC thinks they have them, bring them on."
Raimond went on to point out how heavyweight deity, Fedor Emelianenko, has beaten every former UFC champion he has faced. "We would like to invite the UFC, Dana White, Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir to our event to come watch a real champion fight," he said.
Later in the press conference, Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio added that, while not a priority now, it is certainly a goal to have the best fighters fight each other. "If the UFC is willing to let their top fighters in Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir fight Fedor, as a fan, I want to see it. And I am certainly not going to get in the way of that."
But Atencio admitted the likelihood of a cross-promotional event was not promising.
"It is not something I see the UFC being willing to do though," he said. "M-1 has sat down with them, we’ve sat down with them, and I just don’t think they are willing. Whether that is out of fear, I don’t know. Bottom line is I am open to it because I am a fan of MMA, first and foremost."
Josh Barnett added to the conversation when he said that he would be willing to face Mir, and Fedor could have Lesnar, or vice versa, it doesn’t matter. "When it comes down to it, only we can do what we do," he said.
While fans can salivate over the possibilities of a heavenly mini-tournament between the best fighters in the world -- regardless of affiliation -- it is unlikely the UFC would agree to put on a cross-promotional event.
As White said as recently as last week, "I would never cross-promote." But we can still dream, can't we?