New York, NY – The announcement that M-1 Global officials were moving ahead with a reality television vehicle featuring former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko has been known for several months. As such, Thursday’s press conference at the Trump Tower in the heart of New York to “announce” Fighting Fedor is a “go” was hardly an Earth-shattering event.
However, seeing celebrity millionaire Donald Trump front and center as the project’s unofficial show-runner at the start of the presser has brought a new dimension to the concept.
Just how involved he’ll be with the show’s pitch remains to be seen, but Trump can still be a tremendous asset even if his role proves to be nothing more than that as of figurehead. Having the Trump name involved may have already proved to be a game changer, as reporters from NBC Sports, FOX News, Extra, and several other major media outlets will bring the project added exposure in the U.S. thanks to Trump’s presence at the presser.
The show, a creation of former PRIDE USA Vice President and current M-1 Global Vice President Jerry Millen, is already drawing interest from “huge” players within the U.S. television landscape, according to both Millen and M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelstein.
Finkelstein, who doubles as Fedor’s manager, indicated that they are already analyzing offers and that they expect to make a decision “soon” about which television outlets they’ll partner with.
While a U.S. distribution partner is still unknown, a few new details came to light during the course of the press conference.
Despite the fact that casting heavyweight hopefuls is a difficult task reflected by the fact that the UFC hasn’t touched the weight class on The Ultimate Fighter since season two, Millen told FiveOuncesOfPain.com that the show will be casting fighters from the U.S., Russia, Japan, Brazil, and many other countries as well. By selecting from a Global talent pool, M-1 officials expressed confidence that they will be able to put together a solid field of talent and Millen revealed to us that he’s been contacted by several well-known fighters looking for a shot at being on the show.
The show will be filmed out of the Red Devil gym in St. Petersburg, Russia, with the gym lacking many of the creature comforts that U.S. fans have become accustomed to seeing on TUF. The date in which the show will begin production has yet to be finalized, but Millen indicated that the show could begin filming as early as April.
Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio also stated that the winner of the show will receive their shot at Fedor during an Affliction-promoted event. He also indicated that the show could be used as a “feeder” with eliminated fighters from the show that make a strong impression possibly fighting for Affliction in the future.