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Strikeforce Goes International Through Partnership With M-1 Global

CHICAGO -- Strikeforce entered into a co-promotional deal with M-1 Global primarily for Fedor Emelianenko's services, but what else does M-1 Global actually do other than loan out Fedor?

According to M-1 Global executives, Strikeforce broadens its reach to the rest of the world outside of America through its partnership with the international MMA organization.

"We're in charge of international television. We're going to be out in Japan, Korea, England, Russia – the biggest network in Russia, so we handle a lot of international stuff," M-1 Global USA VP Jerry Millen explained to me Wednesday. "Cause obviously Strikeforce is based in America, so they're handling all the stuff here and we facilitate anything they need help with. We work hand-in-hand with whatever they need help with. Because we have a little more ties internationally, we do a lot of international stuff."

Up until last year Strikeforce was still considered a regional show, rarely leaving its home base at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The Strikeforce brand tasted MMA pay-per-view in 1997 with its brief partnership with EliteXC, but it was its deal with NBC for a weekly taped series in April 2008 that propelled Strikeforce to eyes across the US.

The partnership with M-1 Global pushes Strikeforce further.

"What we're bringing to the table is international knowledge," M1 Global CEO Joost Raimond said Thursday. "Also, our knowledge on international sales. We bring that to the Western world, whereas Strikeforce is traditionally more focused on the US market, not so much on the outside so I think our combination works out really well."

The Fedor vs. Rogers fight will air live on satellite television in Russia and on tape-delay the following evening on Channel One, which Raimond says is Russia's equivalent of CBS. M-1 Global has also arranged streams online for areas without coverage of the event through websites and (geographic restrictions apply).

Outside of the international deals, it seems the usual fight promoting duties were handled by Strikeforce. For Fedor vs. Rogers, all the matchmaking was through Strikeforce, but M-1 could have a stronger involvement in the actual organizing of the cards in the future, for example through M-1's development program M-1 Challenge.

"It's a feeling out process," Millen said. "Having a new partner is like having a new girlfriend or whatever, or wife. You don't get married until you know the person, but obviously it's a feeling out process before you get married."

The association with M-1 Global was something Strikeforce agreed to that was a sticking point that prevented Fedor from signing with the UFC. Even considering M-1 Global's international expertise, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said Strikeforce's biggest benefit is promoting the no. 1 heavyweight in the world.

"The beauty of this deal is that we get to watch Fedor fight Brett Rogers on CBS for free," Coker said. "And that's really the beauty of it. And to try to get as many millions of eyeballs we can to drive mixed martial arts forward as a mainstream sport and accepted in the US."

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