Sunday, January 16, 2011

Can Oleg Taktarov help the UFC Counter the M-1 Mafia?

Dana White, Oleg Taktarov, and Lorenzo Fertita.

The UFC continues its international expansion campaign with the help of Russian UFC legend Oleg Taktarov.

UFC 6 winner Oleg Taktarov has been a long-time proponent of Russian mixed martial arts. His latest agenda involves lobbying for a stronger Russian presence in the UFC Octagon. "The Russian Bear" recently met with Zuffa execs Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta to discuss bringing more Russian and Eastern European fighters to the American-based promotion.

On the flipside, M-1 Global is by far the biggest promotion in Eastern Europe and Russia. Despite some setbacks, both rumored and evident, following its star fighter Fedor Emelianenko's upset loss to Fabricio Werdum last June, the fight management company and MMA promotion has managed to stay afloat, maintaining a full schedule of fights through the close of 2010. M-1 continues to promote some of the top upperweights in Europe particularly in the welterweight and middleweight divisions.

UFC president Dana White is anything but a friend of M-1-- consider him a sworn enemy. Zuffa has unsuccessfully engaged in contract negotiations with M-1 over Fedor Emelianenko on two occassions. To sum it up, the M-1 mafia is well-known for being extremely difficult to work/negotiate with -- they play hard, and want things their way, no matter how unreasonable.

Yet still, even with an Oleg Taktarov-supported Russian prospect campaign in tow, M-1 Global remains the mixed martial arts stronghold in Eastern Europe and Russia. They could be a visible hurdle if Zuffa intends to acquire talent in that region of the world. The determining factor, as with any business, will be money. If it comes to a war, this won't be a cold one. Expect a full-scale nuclear war if Zuffa and M-1 must go head-to-head.

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