M-1 Global posted a report today that a deal for WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko (30-1) to face Josh Barnett (24-5) at Affliction III was close to being finalized. The report noted that M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchtein said that formal talks are taking place for the fight, and the bout could be signed within the next ten days, barring any setbacks. The article also noted that there is no official date or venue yet for the event, although early August at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California is likely. Affliction VP Tom Atencio also noted today that nothing has been signed as of yet.
Emelianenko said in a press conference in Japan last week that he would fight this summer against a ranked fighter. Tom Atencio went to Russia late last week to finalize the fight with Emelianenko’s people for Affliction III. Barnett’s camp, meanwhile, told ESPN.com that they had not been approached for the fight. While many feel that Affliction may fold soon, the contracts that both had signed with the organization were for guaranteed money, so they would have to be paid regardless of if they run another show or not.
If Dana White were to have his way, Emelianenko’s next opponent would be current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. White recently noted in an article with Yahoo Sports! that Silva expressed an interest in fighting Emelianenko and White made several attempts to sign Emelianenko, none of which were successful.
Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, confirmed that Silva would like to fight Emelianenko and that size wouldn’t be an issue. He said that Silva would come in at 220 pounds for the fight, since he walks around at 215. Emelianenko, meanwhile, fights around 230 and is several inches shorter than Silva.
While Emelianenko is under contract with Affliction, if Affliction were to fold after the next event, the UFC would be one of only two viable options for him, since they would be able to pay him the $1.5 million plus per fight that he demands. The other option would be to fight for DREAM in Japan and Keiichi Sasahara, the head of DREAM, did say last week that they would present an offer for Emelianenko to fight either in the summer or on New Year’s Eve. If DREAM could afford him for two or more dates per year, then it’s doubtful that Emelianenko would sign with the UFC due to the long-term exclusivity the UFC demands.
Both Emelianenko and Barnett last fought on January 24 during Affliction’s Day of Reckoning event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Emelianenko defeated former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski via KO at 3:14 of round 1, while Barnett defeated Gilbert Yvel at 3:05 of round 3 via submission (strikes).