Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Yesterday's M-1 Global press conference in New York City was like many press conferences announcing the "next big thing". This time around it was Fedor Emelianenko being showered with roses and accolades, and there was the obligatory "we're all about the fighters" sweet talk mixed with promises of match-ups transcending organizations - all of which was tempered with a dash of "no TV deal as of yet". If you've been to one you've been to them all, and history shows us that these big-talkers always start strong and end up worse than the Hindenburg (a Hindenburg fueled not by hydrogen but by wildly-excessive fighter salaries and other combustible expenses). Yet one gentleman's presence gave me pause: M-1 Global's president and CEO, Monte Cox. Yes, the same Monte Cox who has managed dozens upon dozens of top-ranked fighters, and who has promoted dozens upon dozens of Extreme Challenge events (and even co-promoted a UFC). He's the real deal, and a shrewd-as-hell businessman - which tells me that M-1 Global isn't something that should be dismissed outright. Last night I heard talk of reverse-mergers to raise capital, financial backers in Mother Russia and an MMA version of "Rumble in the Jungle", and saw Gary Shaw of ProElite and Gareb Shamus of the IFL shaking some hands, but the real news? Monte Cox is driving this zeppelin; there's a good chance this one might actually fly.
After a tumultuous week that saw negotiations for Pride champ Fedor Emelianenko go down the crapper and the sudden resignation of UFC champ Randy Couture, Saturday night's UFC 77 seemed to be business as usual for the flagship promotion - with virtually no mention made of the two lost stars. In lieu addressing the news that had dominated the headlines leading up to the Cinncinatti event, Zuffa instead repeatedly cut to shots of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira giving the camera a "thumbs-up", and alluded to a possible match-up against former champ Tim Sylvia. It was a Jedi Mind Trick of the first order. In fact, when commentator Joe Rogan attempted to broach the subject, a cloaked and hooded Dana White waved his hand and said, "Randy and Fedor aren't the heavyweights you're looking for. Move along. Move along." Rogan complied, declaring with enthusiasm, "Tim Sylvia is an animal! That man is my hero!" Some of us, however, aren't so weak-minded.