I was unable to attend yesterday’s press conference in New York to announce the signing of Fedor Emelianenko to a contract with the M-1 Global promotion. I would have love to have been there but apparently my invitation to the press conference was lost in the mail. Or, perhaps it was never even sent?
But just because I wasn’t there it doesn’t mean I can’t comment. Two 5 Oz. contributors, Ben Fowlkes and Matt Kaplan, attended the event and thanks to their coverage, I’m able to offer my opinion of Fedor’s signing with M-1 Global, the decision to name Monte Cox as president and CEO, and what long-term impact M-1 Global will have on MMA.
I’ve been reading a lot of what other people have to say and many are claiming that Fedor is not a big star in the U.S. and never will be. While I agree with the former statement, I do not agree with the latter. In general, I’m really sick and tired of people ripping on fighters like Fedor, Denis Kang, and Brock Lesnar because they aren’t big stars in the U.S. yet. That’s narrowminded thinking. A star isn’t usually born overnight. It takes time and money. But all the money in the world doesn’t mean a thing if a fighter can’t fight.
You have to take the risk at times and pay a guy up front for potential performance in most major sports. There was a time in MMA where promotions didn’t have to speculate and could force a fighter to prove himself first but times are changing with so many promotions out now.
Should the Vikings have passed on Adrian Peterson because he was injured frequently while at Oklahoma? No way. They had to evaluate his upside and take the risk. In the end, I think they probably realized it was just as big of a risk not drafting him as opposed to actually drafting him. I don’t think they are regretting their decision now. In MMA, promotions will have to start taking more chances and start paying a fighter what they think he could end up being worth as opposed to what they actually perceive him to be worth at the time of a signing.
M-1 wants to be big and if you’re going to go big, Fedor is a great start because if promoted right, I have little doubt he could become a big star in America. There are plenty of people in this country who appreciate greatness regardless of whether the athlete speaks English or not. There’s also plenty of Eastern Europeans in the U.S. and the numbers are only growing. But the key is promoting him properly.