Fedor and the UFC. My thoughts.
Posted 08-06-2009 at 02:15 PM by The Don
First let me start by saying I am a huge Fedor Emelianenko fan. He is most like the most dominant fighter to date in the history of MMA regardless of Weight class. "The Last Emperor" as he is known is was born September 28, 1976 (let it be known I was born almost exactly 1 year later Sept, 19th 1977) he weighs in approximately 233 pounds and fights as a Heavyweight. His current official record is 30-1* with 1 no contest. The asterisk next to his name is to denote his one loss came in a tournament where he was hit with an illegal elbow and cut. The bleeding was unable to be controlled and therefore he could not continue so the one who hit him was given the win so he could advance. if not for the tournament format the fight would have been declared a no contest as it was very obvious the elbow was not intentional. Almost all MMA rankings have him listed as the #1 heavyweight fighter in the world and many have him as the #1 pound for pound fighter in the world his record and stats can be viewed [URL="http://sherdog.com/fighter/Fedor-Emelianenko-1500"]here[/URL]. Now that you know who this is about let me go into the topic on hand.
Now it is widely accepted and I even agree that at the moment the Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC is the current top dog in the MMA world. In almost every weight class they boast at least 5 of the top 10 fighters and in some weight classes even more. The one weight class that seems to be in the biggest contention is the Heavyweight division. And The UFC has some great young and veteran fighters. It is also widely felt that the HW division in MMA in general for the most part is the most talent shallow division.
Back in the Heyday of Pride Fighting Championship Fedor reigned supreme while Randy Couture was pretty much the ruler of the UFC. Just about everyone who was an MMA fan at the time wanted to know who would win. Captain America or the Russian Machine. Sadly in Randy's Prime this match never happened. Now though Pride is long gone. Fedor is currently under contract with M-1 Global who is owned in part by Vadim Finklestein who just also happens to be Fedor's manager (keep this in the back of your mind. As you read this.)
Now several times in the past Dana White the president of the UFC has tried to sign Fedor for instance after the demise of Pride. In the past negotiations have always seemed to break down as neither side seemed willing to make concessions to other. Past negotiations I blame on both parties at the table.
Now let me state some feelings here. Personally I do not think Fedor has any say over what contract he signs as I truly believe his manager/fighter contract with Vadim has him practically a slave. And his only way out would be to defect from Russia which as most MMA fans know is a point of personal pride with Fedor as he loves his country. And keep in mind Russian contract law is most likely very different then US contract law where most athletes can get out of a contract if they feel their management is not acting in their best interests.
Back to the point... as I said, past negotiations have always broken down with both sides Fedor's management and Dana calling each other names and such. The last time this happened Fedor ended up signing with, if you guessed M-1 Global, you would be correct. The contract was for 6 fights, So far Fedor has had 3. 2 of which were under Affliction where he defeated, excuse me, destroyed two former UFC HW champs. After 2 shows. Affliction is back to just clothing and Fedor needs to find a new place to fight.
Well to give credit to Dana White, He seems this time to have listened to the fans and came to Fedors management with an incredible deal, a supposedly 6 fight contract making over a million, some reports say up t 5 million per fight deal which would make him the highest paid fighter in MMA history. A point of contention on the past has been Fedor's participation in Sambo matches in his home country which is really Fedor's true passion, Dana gave in. Dana said Fedor could hang banners about M-1 Global and even wear shorts in the ring that said M-1 on them, let the record show that when Affliction announced it was going to promote MMA events fighters were banned from wearing Affliction clothing or posting Affliction on their ringside banners, re-aired shows had Affliction apparel fuzzed out, So this was a big thing for Dana to give. Every concession that was for Fedor the fighter Dana appears to have made.
Except, you know there had to be one of these things seemed to perfect...
Except to co-promote events which is what Vadim states as the main reason they did not sign the contract. Now some say this was ludicrous for Dana not to agree to co-promote. Why would the UFC not agree to this? well in the early days when MMA was all but outlawed in most states and Dana and the owners were trying to grow, none of the other smaller promotions of the time would help them fight to get the laws and such changed, Because of the efforts of the UFC and Dana White MMA is legal in most states and more are signing on. It cost the UFC a lot of money which they have more then since made back but have made it easier for the promotions that would not help them to survive, most failed to survive anyway. Dana does not feel like helping another promotion succeed because of all his and the UFC's efforts. I partly agree.
In the Fedor issue I feel the UFC went over and above what it should have done to try and sign this superstar even at the risk of upsetting their own current stable of fighters who most of which together would not be getting what Fedor was offered, but as I said Dana tried to create the fights fans have been begging to see. I also feel this gives some credibility to the past rants of Dana white referring to Fedor’s management team as "crazy Russians".
I also feel the UFC does not need Fedor, nor does Fedor need the UFC. The UFC is now a large stable company believed by many fans to be the major leagues of MMA, argument for a future entry. And Fedor has 30 wins having beat every challenger put in front of him including a rematch to his one "loss"
So where does this leave Fedor, I mean obviously the UFC is going to continue as they already have 4 or 5 shows scheduled and the next season of The Ultimate Fighter taping featuring Kimbo Slice, again future posts. Fedor is going to the next largest promotion in the US, Strikeforce. There he has only 3 obvious challengers the most dangerous of whom would be Allister Overeem, who I predict Fedor beating in the first round and becoming the Strikeforce HW champion to add to his Pride title and the WAMMA title, yet another future topic. It is supposedly a 3 fight contract which will end to coincide with the end of his M-1 contract. Does this mean we have to wait 3 more Fedor fights before we have a chance to see Fedor in the UFC?
The answer to that is I do not know. Personally I feel as long as Vadim is his manager Fedor will not get into the UFC. And if I am right about his contract with Vadim this may never happen because I do not believe Fedor would ever leave his home country. So for me... I look forward to the next UFC event this weekend along with the WEC event(its free so that’s the one I will watch) and to Fedor's next fight whenever that is.