It is being reported that UFC had the opportunity to pick up Fedor Emelianenko from the Affliction acquisition. Both sides have confirmed that negotiations are underway to make a deal happen. It is also reported that Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar could happen as soon as UFC 103 in September.
It is hard for Dana White to boast about having the greatest fighters in UFC, when they are missing arguably the greatest heavyweight of all-time. It is hard to boast that you are the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, when you aren’t fighting the elite. The time is now for UFC and Fedor Emelianenko to get a deal done!
UFC has done a great job of giving us Pride vs. UFC Dream Matches since they acquired Pride FC. Unfortunately they have been unable to close the deal on the biggest star of the company. UFC fans have been awaiting the arrival of the Last Emperor for two-years.
[adinserter block=”1″]It seemed a given at the time that Fedor would make the jump to UFC. For one, UFC desperately needed heavyweights. Additionally, the MMA business in Japan started a free fall. With no quality opponents available, it seemed like a matter of when and not if for Fedor to sign with UFC.
Two years later and both sides have yet to come to an agreement. However, there is never been a better time for the deal to happen then now. All of the planets seemed to have aligned to necessitate this deal from both sides. The timing may never be better for either side to get the deal done.
Whether UFC fans like him or not, they can thank Brock Lesnar for the sense of urgency. Let’s face it. Fedor in UFC would always have big impact. However, up until Lesnar there hasn’t been that Super Fight that necessitated a deal. Lesnar’s dominance over arguably his only heavyweight competition in UFC at UFC 100 has put an enormous amount of pressure on Dana White.
Dana White has been more complimentary to Fedor than at any other time that I can remember. Dana has acknowledged that the pressure from fans and the MMA community has opened up a whole new dynamic to his pursuit of Fedor. Dana may be an arrogant man, but he is a smart man. Dana knows that there is no other money match that can come close to a Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar main-event.
Dana White also comes from a boxing background. As a student of the game, he has to be aware of missed opportunities in boxing. Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield eventually fought Mike Tyson. But those matches came way past their prime and millions of dollars were lost on those Dream Fights. Dana White knows that a waiting game here will only lose the company millions of dollars that he may never get back.
I have been extremely critical of Dana White in the past for not getting this done. However, I have come around the last year to Fedor’s culpability in this. This isn’t a one man deal. Reports indicate that Fedor’s management asked for outrageous things from UFC in the past. As an elite athlete, there comes a point where Fedor has to bite the bullet on some of these conditions in exchange for getting the best competition in MMA.
Randy Couture said last week that he was promised Fedor first. Dana White said later in the week that Fedor will fight for the title first. Personally, I think Dana learned his lesson from Mirko Cro Cop. Dana played the game with Cro Cop and put him in tune up fights first, rather than promote the immediate money match with Randy Couture. UFC lost millions of dollars due to this and I can’t see them making the same mistake again.
I found it interesting that MMA fans and reporters immediately jumped on the Lesnar-Fedor match following UFC 100. At that time, Fedor was still under contract to Affliction. Betting websites even posted odds on a Fedor vs. Lesnar match. The planets aligned Friday when Affliction closed down, patched things up with UFC, and Fedor became a free agent.
The sticking point in the past has been Fedor’s management team. Fedor’s team wants the fight co-promoted by M1. UFC has never co-promoted in the past and weren’t looking to start. The more I learned about Fedor, the more I learned that Dana White was not nearly all at fault for not getting the deal done.
Once again, timing is everything and it appears both sides are negotiating with cleared heads. Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports reports that Dana White did fly out of the country in the last few days for a meeting. Iole also reports that a co-promotional deal could be a possibility at this time. Iole is careful to note that this is all dependent upon what kind of co-promotional deal is expected. These kinds of things happen often in boxing, and there is no reason that someone reasonable can’t be worked out from both sides.
Kevin Iole also said something very interesting on MMA Junkie Radio. Iole said he couldn’t confirm, but heard that UFC had the opportunity to pick up Fedor’s current deal from Affliction. According to Iole, UFC did not like the deal and it was very one-sided in Fedor’s favor. Iole also reported that Fedor’s first match could happen as soon as UFC 103 in September vs. Brock Lesnar. Iole also reports that Tito Ortiz could return on that card.
[adinserter block=”2″]So who has leverage in this deal? Fedor is the commodity, but UFC is also a commodity to Fedor. Does Fedor want his legacy to be that of a fighter that jumped around fly-by-night companies fighting less talented fighters? Does UFC want their legacy to include the fact that the biggest company in MMA history couldn’t sign arguably the greatest heavyweight of all-time?
I think both sides are at a point where this deal needs to happen for it to ever happen. Hypothetically, should Brock Lesnar hit a wall this deal doesn’t mean a whole lot in two years for either side. The timing is now for both sides to make this happen. In order to get, you need to give and both sides need to give a little to get a lot for MMA fans.
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