ESPN The Magazine reported late Thursday night that the short lived relationship between M1 and reigning Pride Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko is coming to an end. Emelianenko, the consensus #1 Ranked Heavyweight in the world, fought only one fight for the organization back on New Years Eve. Does this once again open the door for the highly anticipated, and highly controversial match up between Emelianenko and Current/Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture?
Apy Echteld, one of Emelianenko’s agents, confirmed that M-1 and Emelianenko will part ways some time in the next week and that negotiations are ongoing right now for the two to part ways. A formal announcement is likely to be made within the next few days. “Officially, yes, Fedor will be a free agent,” Echteld stated.
Before signing his contract with M1, Emelianenko was the most coveted MMA free agent on the market after the collapse of Pride FC. Organizations from all over the world threw everything that they had at Elemianenko to entice the Champion to fight in their organization, and of course the UFC was one of the first in line to request his services. At that time, Randy Couture was fresh out of retirement and had beaten former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia, taking away his crown. It was highly speculated at that point that the UFC would sign Emelianenko to set up the heavyweight fight of the Century, pitting UFC Champ against Pride Champ.
Unfortunately for everyone, Emelianeko and his camp could not come to terms with UFC President Dana White to finalize a deal. It seemed that the final sticking point was that the UFC was unwilling to allow the fighter to moonlight in other organizations while fighting for the MMA powerhouse, a freedom that Emelianeko has always experienced. While these negotiations were going on, Couture continued to bide his time while waiting for the UFC to close the deal, even throwing in an impressive title defense against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74.
Once word finally came out that Emelianeko was heading elsewhere, Couture decided to resign as UFC Heavyweight Champion, setting off a whirlwind of controversy, lawsuits and banter between the fighter and White. The root of Couture’s departure was based on his feeling that an Elemianenko fight is the last fight remaining to complete his illustrious career. In addition to that, there were issues of disrespect and deceit that the Champion feels he should not have been subject to from the UFC. However, the Couture was willing to look past those issues if it meant being able to fight Emelianenko.
The question is, now that Emelianenko is going to be a free man again, will the UFC make an aggressive push for him after he turned them down just six months ago.
White responded emphatically by stating, “Absolutely, 100%, in a heartbeat.” White added, “People think he’s the best, I don’t, not even close. But if it’s somehow possible, I will make it happen.”
This comment caught many in the MMA community off guard considering the mud slinging and bridge burning that he and Couture had partaken in since Couture left the organization. But it looks as though White is just as excited to get this second chance as anyone, even if he has to swallow his pride.
“I like Randy, I genuinely like to think he’s a good guy,” White says. “As much as we’ve gone back and forth on this, I would sign Fedor and do everything possible to get Randy in the octagon with him. I’d do anything, because a., it’s a great fight and b., I think Randy would smash Fedor.”
This just goes to show that money talks, and business is business. And at the heart of it all, White is an MMA fan like the rest of us and would not want to be the one to prevent this fight from happening, at least not again. Hopefully Couture will be taking on Emelianenko sooner than later, because at 44 Coutrue is also fighting off Father Time every day.