M-1 Challenge announces UFC partnership – with focus on Russia

M-1 Challenge today announced a once seemingly unlikely partnership with the UFC as the world’s top promotion looks to establish a footprint in Russia.

Officials from the longtime Russian promotion today announced a partnership with UFC – and “UFC Russia” – in which M-1 Challenge champions will earn UFC contracts. Bloomberg.com also reported the deal.

According to M-1, the Mubadala Investment Company and the Russia-China Investment Fund have teamed up to create UFC Russia to “organize new shows in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).”

“We are looking forward to further cooperation with the UFC and the (Russia-China Investment Fund) working on developing young Russian talent, and this will benefit our sports very much,” stated M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchtein, whose past relationship with UFC President Dana White could be labeled rocky (at best). “MMA is a very popular kind of sports, and cooperation of the UFC, investment fund and M-1 Global can take MMA in Russia to new level. Competition in M-1 Global is going to be even tougher, and that means we are going to see even more excellent and spectacular fights.”

For the UFC, it’s all about growth.

“This partnership will be a tremendous boost to the sport of MMA in Russia and the CIS,” UFC Senior Vice President of International and Content David Shaw stated. “We’re excited to collaborate with (RCIF CEO) Kirill Dmitriev and his team to grow UFC’s brand in these key markets and serve the millions of MMA fans in this part of the world.”

Here’s the full announcement (via Twitter):

“M-1 Challenge champions will get a unique opportunity to sign contracts with the UFC.

“The Russian-Chinese investment fund Mubadala Investment Company and the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced foundation of UFC Russia. The new company is going to promote MMA and organize new shows in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

“M-1 Global is going to be a partner taking care of finding Russian athletes and preparing them for the fights. M-1 Challenge champions will get a unique opportunity to sign contracts with the UFC.”

The UFC is scheduled for its long-awaited debut in Russia on Sept. 15 with UFC Fight Night 136, which takes place at Olympic Stadium in Moscow. The event is expected to feature many of the Russian fighters the UFC has added to its roster in recent years.

Stay tuned to MMAjunkie for further updates and details of the partnership.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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