January 9, 2020

Why Fedor never fought in UFC?

A Russian heavyweight mixed martial artist, Fedor Emelianenko, is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Throughout his career, Emelianenko competed in many promotions such as Rings, Pride FC, Rizin, M-1 Global, Affliction, Strikeforce, and Bellator.

Despite a lot of interest from Dana White to sign Fedor to the UFC, it never happened. We heard a lot of comments from Dana on why Emelianenko didn’t sign with the UFC. We know that they had on-going negotiations with Fedor and his managers multiple times in 2009-2012 as well as in 2016.

Here is what Dana White said about signing Fedor Emelianenko to the UFC back in 2012:

“Not even a little bit (interested). That was a guy who was made an incredible offer, and they laughed at it. He ain’t laughing now.”

And here is a response to Dana White from one of Fedor’s managers Vadim Finkelstein:

“If he says he has no interest in signing Fedor, then, in fact, he really wants to. He says one thing and does another. How can you not want a fighter who can bring millions? Any fight with Fedor could break all the rating records in the UFC.”

We do know that things Dana says are not necessarily mean much and Vadim Finkelstein is not wrong on that one. In fact, Dana is still bitter almost 10 years after and has regrets that he wasn’t able to make a deal with Fedor back in the day:

“The only fight that I wanted to make that was never made was Brock Lesnar vs Fedor Emelianenko. We were going to do it at Texas Stadium. But I couldn’t get a deal done with Fedor, so it never happened.”

We found Fedor Emelianenko’s interview with the Russian media from 2009. Here is what “The Last Emperor” had to say about making a deal with the UFC (this interview took place after Fedor signed a contract with Strikeforce):

“As you probably know, we couldn’t make a deal with the UFC. Their terms are not acceptable to us at this point. If they change their terms, a fight with Brock Lesnar might happen. UFC’s problem is that they don’t care about anyone else. Their organization is a monopoly and they only care about their own ambitions.”

Fedor Emelianenko vs Brock Lesnar - fight that never happened in UFC

I think it’s a pretty clear message from Fedor himself. He doesn’t talk the same way Dana White does. If Fedor says something, you bet he means it. It seems like there was a clear conflict of interest in this situation between the UFC and Fedor Emelianenko/his management.

UFC most likely made a great short-term deal to Fedor which did not include any benefits to his management and his team. I don’t doubt UFC offered very good money to Emelianenko (more than he would make anywhere else). But who knows, maybe Fedor didn’t want to take that path and wanted to be loyal to people he trusts and the management team he worked with for so many years.

Here are some quotes from Jerry Millen’s interview which he recently gave to the Russian newspaper “Sport-Express”. Jerry Millen has been working with Fedor Emelianenko as his manager since 2015.

“Dana White is not the same type of person as Fedor or myself. Fedor is very respectful to people, he knows what honor and pride is. And I feel like UFC did not treat him with the respect he deserves. Dana White said a lot of bad things about Fedor throughout these years. He is a good person, he did not deserve these words. Guys like Dana don’t deserve fighters like Fedor…”

“Money is not the reason why Fedor didn’t sign with the UFC. He loves to fight and he values mutual respect. Fedor is respectful to others. In their negotiations with the UFC, there was not enough of respect shown on their part. That’s why Fedor decided to decline the UFC’s offer. Money doesn’t mean as much to him as a sign of respect…”

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