When PRIDE collapsed there were countless rumors of the UFC nearing a deal with Fedor Emelianenko. The deal never happened. Fedor fought once for the Bodog promotion before eventually signing with Affliction. Fedor was impressive in Affliction, defeating former UFC Heavyweight champions Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski. In other words Fedor’s stock had grown. There are not many fights that make sense for the Russian sensation. The scheduled Josh Barnett fight made sense. The only other fighters that make sense for him to fight are in the UFC. Fans would love to see Fedor vs. Lesnar or Fedor vs. Couture. That does not even include potential matches with guys like Nogueira, Cro Cop, Carwin, Velasquez, Dos Santos, Kongo, Machida, etc. So why won’t the Fedor sign with the UFC?
Is it a money thing?
I doubt it. The UFC reportedly offered Fedor more than he has ever made. No promotion can pay Fedor as well as the UFC. He would make millions with the UFC if you include sponsors and portions of pay per view buys. Don’t get me wrong he will make good money anywhere he signs, but the UFC would be the most lucrative offer on the table by far. Plus, Fedor is not hurting for money. Money is not the issue. If it was an issue he would have signed already.
Is it because of the UFC’s “oppressive” contracts?
At first…maybe. Fedor was critical of Dana White and the UFC. He said that they do not treat fighters like human being. He cited several contractual restrictions before as to why he did not sign. Dana White removed those excuses. The UFC would allow Fedor to participate in combat Sambo. The UFC would allow Fedor to advertize M-1 on his shorts and banner. The UFC bent over backwards for Fedor to make the contract less restrictive for him. There goes that excuse.
So what is it? I can only conclude a few things.
1. Fedor is an idiot…or at least a pawn of his manager
Vladim Finklestein is a shady guy. I believe he is screwing Fedor over. Kevin Iole had a good piece at Yahoo! about Fedor. In it, Iole suggested that while Vladim may be a bad manager, in the end Fedor made the decision and if Fedor wanted to fight the best in the world he could go to the UFC. Maybe Fedor has been hit one too many times in the head.
2. Fedor does not care about his legacy
I think this is likely. Fedor is not motivated or lured with the same things most fighters are. He is not drawn to the UFC by the opportunity to fight the best, to gain more fans, to prove himself, or to make more money. I do not know what his currency is, but I think it is safe to conclude that Fedor is not moved by the same things most people are. As a result he can go over to Japan and fight Hong Man Choi’s for a few years. He can pad his record. He can win fights, but Dana White is proven right on this situation. If Fedor wants to be considered the best Heavyweight and the best pound for pound guy he needs to consistently fight the best. The UFC is the only place to do that. This seems like typical Russian way of thinking. I don’t get it at all. Does Fedor remind you a little bit of the Russian that Rocky fought with the controlling manager?
3. Fedor is unaware of the truth about the UFC’s offer
This is possible. Maybe Vladim Finklestein has not told the whole story to Fedor.
I do not know if we will ever see Fedor in the UFC. However, the UFC should move on. They should keep signing the best guys in the world. Meanwhile Fedor made a huge career mistake. He may win a few more fights, but one day he will get beat and his legacy will be hurt. I predict he will lose to a much lesser opponent. Perhaps he could go win a few fights in Strikeforce or DREAM, but in the end his legacy is damaged. Bad move Fedor, bad move.