It didn't take much for the Fedor Emelianenko discussion to begin again.
With a simple post-UFC 108 statement that he had talked to M-1 Global officials "more recently than you would think," UFC president Dana White set the rumor mill in motion that Emelianenko, and perhaps fellow M-1 fighter Gegard Mousasi, could be on their way to the world's largest MMA promotion.
Today, M-1 Global exec Jerry Millen told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) that in reality, the two sides were having "absolutely zero communication."
"I called everybody in the company before I made this statement," Millen said. "I called (M-1 Global president) Vadim Finkelchtein and talked to him, and he said, 'Absolutely not. There's no correspondence with the UFC at all.'
"I think Dana, in a fantasy dream he had, he signed Fedor. That's probably the 'more recent than you think.' He's dreaming. He wants Fedor. His heavyweight division is a mess."
With current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar on the shelf indefinitely, Millen believes White may now more than ever see the need to bring Emelianenko, who is a part owner of M-1 Global, into the fold. Millen also contends the UFC could use "The Last Emperor" to help bolster lagging pay-per-view sales.
"The (UFC) pay-per-views aren't doing well," Millen said. "I don't care what anybody says, the numbers that people are reporting the pay-per-views are doing, they're not doing.
"Their pay-per-views are hurting, and for the next couple of pay-per-views, look at the main events. I love the fighters that are fighting, but they're not going to sell a lot of pay-per-views. So Dana has got to stir up controversy or talk it up any way he can."
Millen believes White's vague comments regarding potential communications with M-1 Global may have been a creative attempt to damage the still-developing partnership between the Russian organization, Strikeforce, Showtime and CBS.
"When I saw this coming down, I was like, 'OK, what's going on here? Is this Dana trying to affect our relationship with CBS and Showtime and Strikeforce?'" Millen asked. "We have a great relationship. We're very happy with our partners, and we see a great future with them. But this is a way to undermine somebody.
"If you think somebody isn't fully committed, would you be fully committed? What you do is create doubt, and that's what they're trying to do – create doubt that M-1 is not fully committed. But we are fully committed to Showtime and Strikeforce. It's a great partnership."
That partnership resulted in both Emelianenko and Mousasi fighting on CBS this past November, and the two will likely repeat the process in April. But with Strikeforce and M-1 Global officially tied together for just three fights, could things change some time in 2010?
"You can never say 'Never' in anything," Millen said. "Would I love to see Fedor fight Brock Lesnar? Sure. I'd love to see him smash Lesnar. But it would have to be an M-1/Strikeforce/UFC collaboration, and they're never going to that. They're never going to break their business model. They're just not, unless the fans keep hammering Dana so much that they have to."
White has admitted to offering millions of dollars for Emelianenko's services, and the UFC exec also admitted at this past Saturday's press conference that he was a fan of Mousasi. But Millen said it's going to take more than a large contract to bridge the gap between the two parties.
"Dana wants [Emelianenko and Mousasi] now, bad, because he needs those guys," Millen said. "They're two of the best fighters in the world. But if things don't go his way, in two months it will be, 'Fedor sucks. He's overrated. He doesn't fight anybody. There's no depth.' Well look, your guys are dropping off, too. He goes back and forth. I think he's bi-polar.
"Money can buy you just about everything but Fedor. That's what Dana is running into. ... Dana White has no clue about the people he's dealing with in M-1. He doesn't know anything about the people in M-1. He doesn't know how to treat them. He doesn't know their background. He doesn't know who they are as people. That's his biggest problem."
Millen said the M-1 Global team, including Emelianenko, is more interested in respect than the amount of zeroes on a paycheck.
"Dana White doesn't respect anybody," Millen said. "He doesn't respect his fighters, I don't feel. He respects Fedor, and then he doesn't respect him. He respects the Russians for a minute, and then he calls them 'The Crazy Russians.' Dana White needs to learn how to respect people. He doesn't treat people very well.
"I just feel he thinks he's at the top of the world, but the people you see going up the ladder are the same ones you see coming back down. It's all about respect."
So according to Millen, the speculation can stop just as quickly as it started. The M-1 Global exec says his company is satisfied with its current partnerships, and their position on key topics such as co-promotion haven't changed.
"We're very happy," Millen said. "Everything with the first event was a great success.
"Dana is grabbing at straws. He wants Fedor so bad he can taste it. ... But as long as M-1 is involved, I'm sure it's always going to be co-promotion. Fedor has been a part of the family. You don't just give your family away. Gegard is an M-1 fighter, as well, and he's right there with Fedor."