M-1 Global are set to make the biggest step in the expansion of Mixed Martial Arts in Eastern Europe, by presenting the M-1 Fighter Reality Show. The franchise will start airing on the Russian “Fighter” Channel from July 25th and will feature 20 cast members, all coming from the former Soviet Union countries. Five winners of the show (the fighters have to win two bouts) will earn a right to participate in M-1’s International events.
The show will be hosted by two popular Russian showbiz stars, who will try to add some mainstream color on the set. Unlike the UFC’s model of the Ultimate Fighter, the fighters on the show will be trained by professional coaches and not the active fighters. Fedor Emelianenko and other MMA fighters are expected to make guest appearances on the show, to spar with the contestants and share some of their knowledge.
Despite Fedor Emelianenko‘s popularity overseas, most of the people in the former USSR countries still refer to MMA as “vale tudo“”. The show might be another stepping stone in the expansion of the sport, after the Ultimate Fighting Championship visited Australia and Abu Dhabi this year.
If the show is successful, M-1 could establish themselves as a strong force in the eastern part of the globe. M-1’s success could create an interesting situation with the UFC, who are also looking to open new markets on the East. Dana White declared numerous times that he is considering China and India as potential destinations for the next UFC fight cards, with a long-term ambition to promote an event in Japan.
In fact, Ultimate Fighting Championship and M-1 Global are the only promotions who organize MMA events outside their home countries, unlike Dream, Sengoku and Strikeforce. Maybe if M-1 Global and the UFC would put their differences aside, the fans could benefit a faster recognition of MMA as a worldwide sport. Just a food for thought.