Although UFC president Dana White has refused to acknowledge Fedor Emelianenko as the world’s premier heavyweight mixed martial artist, he sure can’t stop talking about bringing the Russian into his Octagon.
Emelianenko is currently under contract with the UFC’s stateside rivals, Strikeforce, however in early March the two sides started to “tweak” the original three-fight contract they had agreed upon less than a year ago.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told us last month that, although they have yet to come to terms, he was looking forward to having their meal ticket back during the summertime.
“I think things are going well. There’s good dialog. There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Coker told 5thRound.com. “I think it was good to go through this exercise, to button-up a few things. [Fedor returning in] June would be great. July would be great, but we want to get him back in a cage as soon as possible.”
Coker may have been jumping the gun, as it appears the minor snags they were experiencing in early talks have caused negotiations to come to a complete stop. Despite having access to a CBS audience for “Strikeforce: Nashville,” where they could plaster Emelianenko’s face on primtetime television screens all across America, both sides have remained silent in regards to an extension as the April 17th event looms.
Unfortunately for Strikeforce, that has left a crack in the door just small enough for the heavyweight to slip through, which undoubtedly is wide enough for MMA’s ultimate antagonist to blast it right off the hinges.
“[Fedor Emelianenko] has become my obsession now. I want it worse than the fans want it,” White said of the WAMMA heavyweight champion’s elusive ways.
The highly publicized courtship of Emelianenko has been well documented. MMA’s baddest man has hit the free agent market on multiple occasions over the past few years, however shunned the UFC in favor of smaller promotions every time.
This isn’t the first time White has stirred the Emelianenko pot. In early January, well before word leaked that his current Strikeforce contract was in limbo, White again stated that he “recently” talked with Fedor’s people.
While White knows his dream of landing Emelianenko would be Strikeforce’s worst nightmare, he teased his counterparts by claiming he would never dare tamper with another company’s employee.
“I would never interfere with someone else’s contract,” White sheepishly said.
At the end of the day, if Emelieanko decides to bounce from Strikeforce, the UFC may still not be his landing spot. M-1 Global, the Russian-based company that represents Fedor and is owned by his manager, Vadim Finkelchtein, refuses to allow their client to fight on any show they can’t co-promote on.
That is the main barrier that has kept Fedor from joining the UFC and will continue to be a roadblock unless M-1 caves. While both sides have made it perfectly clear they will not budge when it comes to co-promotion, the UFC needs this deal a lot less than Team Fedor, despite White’s newly found “obsession.”