The most decorated heavyweight in MMA history is ending his three-year retirement and entering the free agent market. Most believe Bellator MMA has the inside track on signing Fedor Emelianenko (pictured) given the fact his old Strikeforce boss, Scott Coker, is now running things over there, but the UFC is still the major leagues.
The decision will ultimately be Emelianenko’s to make, but here are six reasons why the UFC should be in hot pursuit.
UFC Desperate For Superstars:
The UFC possesses the game’s biggest and brightest stage, but most of their stars don’t shine too brightly on it. There are only a few fighters that are box-office, with freshly-minted interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor and reigning bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey spearheading the needle-moving charge. Former light heavyweight king Jon Jones has all the makings of being a crossover superstar, but he can’t seem to get out of his own way at being a decent human being.
With the backing of Russia and the legion of old school MMA fans who have tapered off over the years, Emelianenko’s return could be massive.
UFC Heavyweight Division Lacks Depth:
It seems like eons ago that the UFC heavyweight class was relevant. It has never been the UFC’s deepest division, and oftentimes produces the most boring fights. Insert one Fedor Emelianenko and all of a sudden fans get a tingly sensation in their hearts when discussing the UFC’s 265-pounders.
Let’s take a look at the UFC’s top six heavyweights: Fabricio Werdum (champ), Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Stipe Miocic, Andrei Arlovski and Travis Browne.
Anyone itching to drop $59.95 on their next pay-per-view?
Keeps Emelianenko From Bellator:
UFC brass won’t admit it publicly, but they have to be peeking in their rear-view mirror at what Bellator is doing. Sure, to hardcore MMA fans, a well-past-his-prime Tito Ortiz vs. cheater extraordinaire Stephan Bonnar doesn’t get the heart beating any faster, but to the casual fan it does. In fact, it did.
That November card peaked at 2 million viewers for Bellator.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the insignificance of Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock “finally” finishing their “Unfinished Business.” Last month’s show topped Ortiz vs. Bonnar by peaking at 2.1 million viewers.
Can you imagine the numbers Fedor vs. Ortiz or Fedor vs. Kimbo would do?
Fact of the matter is, while hardcore MMA fans are great, there are far more casual fans and those are the ones who swing the pendulum.
Emelianenko Isn’t Too Old:
Sure, Emelianenko turns 39 in two months, but that’s not too bad in MMA heavyweight years. Werdum is the UFC champion and he’ll be 38 in exactly two weeks. The average age of the UFC’s top seven fighters is 33.8, so Emelianenko isn’t completely over the hill.
Plus, Emelianenko has rested his body for three years.
Let’s also not forget Randy Couture captured the UFC heavyweight crown at the ripe age of 43.
The One That Got Away:
Remember that hottie from high school that, for one reason or another, still crosses your mind to this day? That’s what Emelianenko represents to UFC president Dana White. Not many fighters say no to the UFC, especially when White brings in UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta to close the deal, but Emelianenko did it at least twice during his prime.
White scoffing at Emelianenko’s manager for insisting the UFC co-promotes with his M-1 Global company was the primary reason they shunned the UFC in favor of Affliction and Strikeforce in the past, but M-1 isn’t in play anymore. In fact, are they even still in business?
White can finally score the prom date he’s long been yearning for.
Nothing makes people feel warm and fuzzy like drumming up old memories, so let’s bring the old PrideFC band back together. Josh Barnett, Mark Hunt, Alistair Overeem, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Emelianenko all under the same heavyweight roof again? Fedor could be the fifth Beatle! Actually, he’d be Paul McCartney or John Lennon, but you get my point.
White’s response Wednesday when asked if the UFC would enter the Emelianenko sweepstakes, “We’ll see what happens. We’ll see how this thing plays out.”