With a little over a week away before Fedor Emelianenko was scheduled to face Josh Barnett at Affliction: Trilogy, the Russian heavyweight and manager Vadim Finkelchtein held a press conference for the Russian media in Moscow. The duo addressed the California State Athletic Commission’s announcement on Wednesday that it will not license Josh Barnett to fight next Saturday after he allegedly tested positive for anabolic steroids.
“I feel disappointed about this situation,” Fedor admitted. “But I will fight anyone who Affliction puts in front of me. I know a lot of fans waited for this fight to happen and I am sorry for them. I can’t do much about it now but I am in good shape, my training has been good and continues to go well.”
Fedor also noted that having a new opponent wouldn’t change the way he has been preparing for the fight.
“No, the main routine is over now,” he noted. “From now on it all about accuracy, precision and execution. There was no specific manner to prepare for the planned bout with Josh Barnett. It’s all the same: standup and ground game . . . Undoubtedly, it’s better to know the name of your opponent long before the fight though.”
Finkelchtein noted that Vitro Belfort had agreed to the fight in principle, but that they were more interested in taking a fight with Brett Rogers, who is coming of a devastating knockout victory over Andrei Arlovski at Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields last month.
“Vitor Belfort agreed to come in principle,” said Finkelchtein. “We personally entertain the idea of having Brett Rogers step in since he knocked Andrei Arlovski out. But if there is any problem with Rogers, then it’s pretty safe to say it’s going to be Belfort. However, we are well aware of the fact that fans don’t consider Vitor Belfort to be a suitable replacement, according to a recent Sherdog poll.
“People want to see Fedor fight,” he continued. “Belfort can make heavyweight, but the fans don’t want this fight. Fedor isn’t seeking an easy fight. If logistics weren’t an issue, we’d like to see Fedor fight against Brett Rogers. Fans want it (and) so do we.”
Finkelchtein, who is also the owner and president of M-1 Global, also talked about Fedor signing with the UFC saying that they “are open to any offer. The issue really is with the UFC, not with us. We are ready to fight the UFC champions.
“Just remember the scandal when we founded M-1 Global,” Finkelchtein continued. “Randy Couture left the UFC in order to get the opportunity of fighting Fedor. Then the UFC sidelined him and litigation ensued. We want to negotiate and cooperate with the UFC, but it seems as though they are not ready.”