Ever since the 2007 dissolution of PRIDE FC and on through the 2009 implosion of Affliction as a fight promotion the prospect of Russian MMA legend Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko competing in the UFC has been dangled in front of MMA fans; for varying reasons, however, the deal has never been able to get done. Now, with rumors abounding that Fedor’s management company, M-1 Global, is on the verge of collapse on the heels of the Russian Sambo artist’s first true loss, tantalizing hints that Emelianenko could still join the UFC roster are reemerging. Fighters Only got their hands on an interview with M-1 Gloabal President Vadim Finkelstein by Russian magazine ProSport in which Finkelstein declares that the prospect of “The Last Emperor” competing in the UFC is still viable.
“I think yes,” Finkelstein said of the possibility of reaching a deal with the UFC. “But not on the same terms they offered us before. We will not let ourselves to get owned. Fedor became very popular [already] outside the Octagon. So, long story short: 1. We would like to receive guaranteed payments. I know that if we agree for percents, they will cheat us. 2. Maybe not a co-promotion (like we offered before), but at least co-branding. 3. They also will have to permit Fedor participating in Sambo competitions, and during our last negotiations UFC were ready for that term.”
As Fighters Only pointed out, this may only be a negotiating ploy to force Strikeforce’s hand into giving M-1 Global and Fedor the fight that they most want: a rematch with Fabricio Werdum, the only man to topple Emelianenko. Finkelstein himself indicated that Fedor and his management would prefer his next fight (the last fight on Fedor’s Strikeforce contract) to come against Werdum and that if Strikeforce hopes to keep “The Last Emperor” around they would do well to grant him that fight.
“We are ready to fight against anyone, but everyone agrees that the most interesting fight right now is the rematch against Fabricio Werdum,” said Finkelstein. “We have one fight left on our contract, so if Strikeforce want to extend it, they should listen to our opinion.”
Finkelstein told ProSport that Fedor will make his return “sometime between October and November” and reiterated his point that Fedor, Werdum and MMA fans alike are only interested in seeing “Fedor vs. Werdum 2.” The likelihood of that fight coming to fruition is unclear, however, as Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has already expressed interest in having either Fedor or Werdum take on Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem in their respective next fights. While it would be an MMA fan’s dream to see Emelianenko compete under the UFC banner it is a prospect that is difficult to put much hope into considering the amount of deals that have fallen through between M-1 Global and the UFC. More likely than not this is a strategic negotiating ploy put forth by M-1 Global but even the slightest chance that “The Last Emperor” could one day compete in the Octagon is enough to get excited about, even if he has lost a bit of his allure by losing to Werdum.