After 13 years of promoting fights in Europe, Asia, and more recently, North America, M-1 Global is known primarily in the U.S. as the management group that guides Fedor Emelianenko’s career. This brand confusion was largely M-1’s fault, as the company spent the last few years co-promoting fights with bodog, Affliction, and Strikeforce, and running its over-ambitious M-1 Challenge series, which pitted fighters from various nations against each other in a World Cup-style team format, culminating in a year-end championship.
In 2010, M-1 focused its energies on the Selection tournament, a series of fights in America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe aimed at developing talent for M-1 Challenge shows, which the company hopes will groom elite talent for large-scale, internationally televised shows promoted by M-1 and its partners. The three-round tournament produced contenders for M-1 Global’s vacant Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, and Heavyweight.
On October 28, M-1 Global will crown its first divisional champions as M-1 Selection tournament winners from Eastern and Western Europe clash in St. Petersburg. The heavyweight title will go to the winner of Maxim Grishin vs. Guram Gugenishvili, the light heavyweight belt will go to the winner of Magomed Sultanakhemedov vs. Rafael Moks, and the lightweight championship will go to the winner of Artiom Damtovsky vs. Mairbek Taisumov. The welterweight and middleweight championships will be awarded to the winner of yet-to-be-determined bouts in Atlantic City on Dec. 11.
The belts will go into circulation on M-1 Challenge shows in 2011, giving the company a chance to prove to American fans that it’s about more than Fedor.