With yesterday’s semi-shocking announcement that Affliction Entertainment canceled their “Trilogy” event, most figured that it was only a matter of time before they folded up their promotional fight tent, but the dust hadn’t even settled before they bolted for the hills.
The key to their exit from the fighting scene boils down to how it affects the fighters under contract with Affliction, specifically WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko?
The primary sticking point to bringing the Russian to the Octagon has always been the UFC’s unwillingness to co-promote any MMA show, and Fedor & Co.’s insistence on it.
In case you weren’t in the know, Emelianenko is managed by Vadim Finkelchtein, who happens to own M-1 Global, the very same company that co-promoted all of Fedor’s fights with Affliction Entertainment. Needless to say, they are joined at the hip.
“We’re working on some big things,” White said Friday on ESPN 1100 Radiothon. “It’s going to be a lot of crazy things. … There will be a laundry list of things addressed.”
Could “crazy” possibly mean the UFC has finally given in and will do a co-promoted show? It can’t be THAT out of the question, can it? The UFC did it before with PrideFC back in 2003, however that was before the UFC was THE UFC.
Emelianenko knows all too well how difficult it will be to close a deal with the UFC, even acknowledging that he may never set foot inside an Octagon.
“I don’t think you’ll see me in the UFC, just because the terms, and the manner in which those terms are offered, are not acceptable today,” Emelianenko said on Inside MMA.
“We want [Fedor],” Fertitta said. “We can figure something out. 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.”
The following day 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.”
Although Fertitta was hopeful they could bring the Russian to the States, he ultimately brought the sticking point back to the UFC’s requirement for exclusivity.
“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?”
White professed that he and the company will unveil some groundbreaking news at a major press conference tentatively scheduled for July 31st.