Most MMA organizations utter these words regarding WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko, however they’re much more powerful when spoken by UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta.
“We want [Fedor],” Fertitta said of the Russian during a Q & A session for Fighter’s Only Magazine this past UFC 100 weekend.
The following day, UFC president Dana White parlayed that sentiment by stating, “Eventually, Fedor’s going to be here. I want Fedor. I want him to come to the UFC…We’ll end up getting that deal done, and then we’ll do Brock vs. Fedor, and it’ll be a huge fight.”
That’s all fine and dandy, however Fedor is currently under contract with his good buddies over at Affliction Entertainment, and in an exclusive interview Monday with 5thRound.com, company VP Tom Atencio told us they are on the cusp of inking an extension with Emelianenko.
“We’ve almost finalized it, but we just haven’t signed the papers,” Atencio told 5thRound.com about extending their partnership. “That’s really where we’re at. Everything is moving forward, it has nothing to do with anything but the fact that we’re just trying to make everybody happy, as I always do.
“We have a great relationship with [Fedor and his management], and we’re always going to continue on with that, and that’s why I’m not too worried about [him leaving for the UFC].”
Although both organizations appear confident they will be able to gain/retain the services of the soon-to-be free agent, there can only be one.
By re-uping with Affliction, he can continue to fight in co-promoted events, retaining the autonomy he desires. The other end of the spectrum has him finally competing on MMA’s biggest stage, however it’s goodbye freedom-hello exclusivity.
“I’m not sure he even knows what we offered him, to be honest with you,” Fertitta said of the UFC’s previous proposal. “I think if he knew what we offered, he would have been here a long time ago . . . we’ve never met Fedor. I want to sit down. I want to talk to him and that’s part of the problem. We’ve never even met the guy.”
The key issue is the fact Emelianenko is managed by Vadim Finkelchtein, who just so happens to be the owner of M-1 Global. So let’s just consider them attached at the hip.
That being said, in order for a “Brock vs. Fedor” mega-fight to happen, the UFC would have to be willing to co-promote the event with M-1. Fertitta confirmed that would be an issue, amongst other things.
“We offered the exact same contract that three hundred other guys have signed, including Brock Lesnar, Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, GSP, all the top stars,” Fertitta explained. “Why is that contract not good enough for Fedor? What Fedor wants is this. He doesn’t want to be exclusive.
“So, it’s like saying, okay, Tom Brady: ‘I’m going to play for New England Patriots one Sunday, but you know what? After that game’s over, I want to be a free agent and go see where I can play for the rest of the season.’ Every weekend he’s going to skip around and play for whoever he wants. How does that make sense for us as a business or for the fans?”
Fedor’s resistance to exclusivity, coupled with the UFC’s insistence on it, will likely be the reason he never sets foot inside of an Octagon. Perhaps that’s the reason Atencio told us this week that he was at ease with the UFC’s recruiting tactics.
“[Fedor’s representatives] always tell us what’s going on,” Atencio said to 5thRound.com. “We’re partners and that’s what you have to do in a partnership. They’ve talked to the UFC in the past, we’ve talked to the UFC in the past. The UFC does not co-promote. The UFC doesn’t want to work with other people and that’s really what it comes down to. That’s why I am confident that I don’t see it happening.”
The UFC’s head honcho appears much more optimistic, even dropping a gauntlet of his own.
“We can figure something out,” said a confident Fertitta. “It is a shame that he has not come forward to challenge the best guys in the world and I hope he comes. We want him.”
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