Friday, February 12, 2010

Gegard Mousasi Leaves M-1 Global, Finds New Management

Normally, a fighter leaving his management team does not qualify as newsworthy, but Gegard "The Dreamcatcher" Mousasi (28-2-1) leaving M-1 Global could have significant ramifications both for Mousasi's career trajectory and for the sport as a whole.

The Armenian-Dutch Mousasi was one of only two world-class fighters signed to M-1's management division, with the other being the company' Russian co-owner, Fedor Emelianenko (31-1). M-1 is also a promotional company that stages its Global Challenge events all over the globe. They are intent on maintaining their promotional clout to the point that M-1 demands that co-promotion and international distribution rights every for fight Emilianenko has. This demand was a deal-breaker for the UFC last August and that is the reason why Emelianko now fights on CBS with Strikeforce, who were open to co-promotion.

How is any of this affected by Mousasi leaving the company? Directly, it gives M-1 less bargaining leverage because all of their eggs are now in one basket. Should Fedor lose a single fight or should the interest of fans wane due to his sub-standard opponents, M-1 will have nothing left with which to bargain against the UFC. Secondly, Mousasi being back in control of his own destiny means he is now able to negotiate with whomever he pleases. Mousasi, who is currently both the DREAM and Strikeforce light heavyweight champion has fought nearly every ranked fighter in his weight class outside of the UFC, and will likely soon be looking to fight the toughest competition available. That being said, Mousasi still has contracts to fulfill with Strikeforce and DREAM, so he won't be seen in the octagon for a while.

Indirectly, this move makes M-1 Global appear inflexible, especially since Mousasi had accused them of lying to him in the past. As the story goes, M-1 told Mousasi that the UFC had given him a low-ball offer, when, in fact, there had been no offer made at all. If true, this was clearly designed to lure Gegard toward Strikeforce in North America. Dana White, who has always painted M-1 as "crazy Russians" who are impossible to deal with, also earned some indirect credibility today.

Gegard Mousasi, who is only twenty-four years old, has been making more independent moves of late. His recent training with Georges St. Pierre (19-2) in Montreal is just one example. He is rumoured to be fighting Mohammed "King Mo" Lawal (6-0) for Strikeforce on CBS this April and has stated his intention to enter the 2010 DREAM Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, after that there will be few challenges left for Mousasi outside the octagon besides potential match ups with either Dan Henderson (25-7) and Fedor himself.

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