MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday learned that Affliction Entertainment has entered into a formal partnership with M-1 Global to promote mixed martial arts events around the globe.
The two entities had already been working together, but had no formal arrangement.
The official partnership includes co-promotion of the M-1 challenge series, an international mixed martial arts tournament that pits fighters from different parts of the globe against each other. The M-1 Challenge's next stop is scheduled for Oct. 29 in Kansas City, Mo., where Xtreme Couture light heavyweight MikeWhitehead will headline the card.
Financial details of the partnership are not known, but presumably, the companies would share production costs and split revenue from events. The union's effect on Affliction's recent partnership with Golden Boy Promotions is unknown.
"We're basically just solidifying our relationship," Affliction vice president TomAtencio told MMAWeekly.com of the Russian promotion. "We work well with them. They're one of the few companies we've worked with that if they say they're going to do something, they do it. They've stood behind us, especially with negotiations with the UFC."
A press conference announcing the partnership will take place Thursday at Trump Towers in New York City.
A likely date of Jan. 24 in Anaheim, Calif. will be the first "joint venture" featuring Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski.
M-1 Global Chief Operating Officer Joost Raimond says a second U.S. Affliction/M-1 Global pay per view would likely take place in April or May of 2009 and would feature Josh Barnett vs. Aleksander Emelianenko.
Raimond feels confident that the junior Emelianenko would be "re-certified" by the California State Athletic Commission.
"There have been medical issues, but the nice thing about medical issues is that they can be resolved," he said.
According to Raimond, the elder Emelianenko is fully healed from his medical issue, a chip fracture to his right thumb sustained against Tim Sylvia at Affliction's "Banned" in July.
Finkelstein and Raimond confirmed that Emelianenko would definitely not be fighting on a Japanese New Year's Eve card. As recently as September, the top-ranked heavyweight told reporters he would honor his informal holiday tradition of fighting in Japan.
"A fight on New Year's Eve in Japan only makes sense if there is a suitable opponent and an organization to put up the event the way it should be," Raimond said. "And in this case, the various components didn't come together."
M-1 fighter Gerard Mousasi is currently under consideration for an unnamed New Year's Eve card in Japan, and is "a very feasible option" to participate on the Anaheim card.
The partnership is bad news for fans that hope to see "The Last Emperor" tussle with Randy Couture in the UFC. The new agreement makes Emelianenko an exclusive client of Affliction and M-1 Global worldwide for the foreseeable future. Previously, Affliction's deal with M-1 Global was exclusive only to the U.S.
Raimond says his company's contact with the UFC remains cordial, but the possibility of either organization lending their stars to a neutral platform is bleak.
"The fact of the matter is that a loan-out is something that the UFC would not desire, they would never go for such a deal," he said. "And secondly, the way we have our program set up for the next years, and our event schedules set up, it's just not feasible to have a Fedor fight within the UFC."
Strong speculation has indicated that Couture has a clause in his contract to face Emelianenko on the second fight of his three-fight UFC deal, but Raimond and Finkelstein maintain it will not take place in the Octagon.
"We are aware of what the rumors are on how that contract looks," Raimond said. "If that is true, we will have to work with the UFC to find out how that can take place. But what we can say is that bringing Fedor under contract with the UFC for such a bout, that's something that's not going to happen."