M-1's Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan attended last night's (March 31, 2012) ONE FC show as a special guest of CEO / Owner Victor Cui, fueling rumors that a cross promotion between the two organizations headlined by Fedor Emelianenko might be in the works.
When Emelianenko was at the height of his success and negotiations were underway with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the biggest issue was M-1's insistence that any deal should involve a cross promotion, something that Dana White and company were totally unwilling to countenance.
This is where ONE FC and the UFC differ. Whereas the UFC refuses to work with other mixed martial arts (MMA) organizations, ONE FC has embraced the concept of cross promotion and has even formed a network to allow fighters to move freely between Dream, Deep, Road FC, URCC, CFC (in Australia) and various others.
In fact, the Sept. 1, 2012, event in Manila will be a cross promotion between ONE FC and URCC and a show in Korea in conjunction with Road FC is also believed to be in the works. ONE FC is focused exclusively on Asia and unlikely to be interested in putting on an event in Russia, so if it did join forces to put on an event with M-1, it seems most likely it would be in Singapore.
M-1's most valuable bargaining chip in these negotiations will, of course, be a 35-year-old heavyweight who goes by the name of Fedor Emelianenko. Numerous rumors have been doing the rounds recently, linking him with fights in India, Brazil, Monaco and even a UFC contract.
None of these have come to fruition and the presence of M-1 head honcho Evgeni Kogan would seem to indicate that perhaps he was leaning toward allowing his most prized asset to fight for ONE FC. Shinya Aoki is already penciled in to headline the Sept. 3, 2012, event and the prospect of a card with Aoki and Emelianenko fighting on it is one which fight fans in Singapore will relish.
ONE FC already have a couple of prospective opponents on the roster in Brazilians Renato Sobral and Rolles Gracie. "Babalu" has fought Emelianenko once before, losing by decision in 2001, and a catchweight rematch between the two would have appeal.
Gracie is coming off a quickfire win over Bob Sapp and has won his last three fights after a disappointing loss to Joey Beltran in his UFC debut. A fight with Emelianenko might be too much too soon for someone with only seven professional fights, but it would be an opportunity for Gracie to well and truly erase the memory of his defeat to Beltran with a big performance.
There are a few heavyweight free agents out there and Mirko Filipovic might be an intriguing option as he seemed a little less sure about his retirement from MMA after beating Ray Sefo in a kickboxing match last month. His fight with Emelianenko at Pride: "Final Conflict" in 2005 is still talked about to this day and even though both men are coming towards the end of their careers a rematch could prove very popular.
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