Just when I thought we were done with the Fedor Emelianenko to UFC story was dead, it’s back. Fedor revealed in a recent interview that he wishes to fight in the UFC this summer. Is this another tease or will MMA fans finally get what they have wanted for the last five years?
I am not sure what to make of this story. Maybe it is Fedor publicly negotiating for a UFC contract, maybe it is just another way to keep his name and M1 Global in the news, or maybe the UFC will finally open up its doors to the Last Emperor.
“I can tell you the timing of my next bout right now. It’s going to be in June or July,” said Emelianenko. “Of course, I want to compete at home, in front of my countryman. But at the moment, the strongest and most respected MMA organization is situated in America. It’s the UFC. Therefore, I have to go to the U.S. in order to face the strongest opponents.”
Fedor was extremely close to signing with the UFC a few years back. Some reports already had Fedor vs. Brock Lesnar penciled into the upcoming UFC schedule that summer. Instead, Fedor opted to sign with Strikeforce. Most reports indicated that Fedor left about $30 million on the table in expected pay per view and fight bonuses in exchange for the promotional rights that M1 got for signing with Strikeforce.
There are already rumors on some MMA forums and some blogs about a Fedor vs. Cain Velasquez or Fedor vs. Josh Barnett fight in the UFC. My guess is that those rumors are extremely premature, if not entirely baseless. Dana White has said that Fedor would get an immediate UFC heavyweight title shot in the past with a UFC deal. I can’t imagine Dana pushing Fedor to the front of the line at this stage of the game. At the same time money changes everything when it comes to the fight game.
I think we have all learned in following this story that this all comes down to M1 Global. M1’s insistence on co-promoting Fedor’s fights have always been the sticking point in negotiations. Now Zuffa and M1 did work together to promote Fedor’s last Strikeforce fight, but those were under terms of a deal that Zuffa didn’t negotiate. Unless Fedor and his management team are willing to drop their co-promotional demands, Fedor will be fighting somewhere else this summer.
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