We had reported last week about how things had come full circle with Affliction and the UFC. It also appears this week that things have come full circle between Fedor Emelianenko and the UFC.
In June of 2007, Fedor seemed like he was headed to the UFC. Negotations failed after Fedor’s manager, Vadim Finkelstein, demanded that the UFC work with his Russian M-1 Global promotion and permit Emelianenko to compete in combat sambo tournaments.
“The contract that we were presented with by the UFC was simply impossible, couldn’t be signed — I couldn’t leave,” Fedor stated of the contract that was presented to him in 2007. “If I won, I had to fight eight times in two years. If I lost one fight, then the UFC had the right to rip up the contract. At the conclusion of the contract, if I am undefeated, then it automatically extends for an as yet unspecified period of time, though for the same compensation. I can’t leave undefeated. I can’t give interviews, appear in films or advertising. I don’t have the right to do anything without the UFC’s agreement. I could do nothing without the OK from the UFC. I didn’t have the right to compete in combat sambo competition. It’s my national sport. It’s the Russian sport, which in his time our president competed in, and I no longer have the right to do so. There were many such clauses; the contract was 18 pages in length. It was written in such a way that I had absolutely no rights while the UFC could at any moment, if something didn’t suit them, tear up the agreement. We worked with lawyers who told us that it was patently impossible to sign such a document.”
“I have fought and still wish to fight the best athletes,” Emelianenko later stated in an interview in 2008. “The whole world is eager to see me fight your [UFC President Dana White] champions, people don’t want to listen to your press-conferences. I’m signed with M-1 Global and this promotion is ready to organize such fights under our banner or in co-promoted events.”
Dana White has stated many times that he wanted to sign the Russian heavyweight, however his management was an obstacle.
“We’re dealing with more than just another culture there,” White noted. “You have an athlete, where other people are cutting the deals and deciding when and where he can do anything.”
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta said earlier this month that they were open to allow Fedor to compete in sambo tournaments if that’s what it took to sign him.
“We can figure something out,” Fertitta stated. “I think we need to have a situation where at least 90 or 120 days before he’s signed a contract to fight, he shouldn’t be out there competing in events like that because I don’t want to take the chance of him getting hurt.”
While the UFC may allow Fedor to continue to compete in sambo to sign him, Finkelchtein still wants Fedor’s fights to be co-promotional efforts with M-1 Global, a term virtually guaranteed to not be accepted by the UFC.
“This is the moment of truth that the UFC has talked about,” Finkelchtein told Mixfight.ru over the weekend. “Fedor and I are here in the States. If they want to come out and fly here, we are ready to conduct negotiations. Of course it still doesn’t imply we are ready to accept any conditions they’ll throw at us. We want to talk to the UFC about having Fedor compete against some of their fighters, but only within the framework of co-promotional efforts with M-1 Global.”
Meanwhile, Dana White continues to note that Fedor is not the best heavyweight in the world until he fights in the UFC.
“How can you call this guy [Fedor] the best in the world?,” the UFC President asked last week. “He’s a heavyweight and look at the guys he’s fought. When you say Fedor beat all the big names, that was back in PRIDE. You’re talking what, four years ago? So wait a minute, maybe Muhammed Ali is the best pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. By calling him best pound-for-pound in the world, that is insane.
“Eventually Fedor is going to be here,” White noted during the UFC 100 post-fight press conference. “I want Fedor. I want him to come of the UFC.”
With the latest statement from Fedor’s management, it looks very doubtful that it will happen anytime soon.