Fedor Emelianenko’s camp has seemingly held out an olive branch to the UFC in the wake of Affliction’s decision to get out of the fight promotion business.
Vadim Finkelchtein, president of M-1 Global which manages the Russian heavyweight mixed martial arts star, says the collapse of the Aug. 1 Affliction card that was to have featured Emelianenko could become an opportunity.
“This is the moment of truth that the UFC has talked about,” he was quoted as saying on the M-1 website. “Fedor and I are here in the States. If they (the UFC) want to come out and fly here, we are ready to conduct negotiations. Of course it still doesn’t imply we are ready to accept any conditions they’ll throw at us.
“We want to talk to the UFC about having Fedor compete against some of their fighters, but only within the framework of co-promotional efforts with M-1 Global.”
The UFC wants Emelianenko, but on its terms – which could be a stumbling block. UFC president Dana White, who has never met the Russian, has said on several occasions that any future negotiations will have to be with Emelianenko in person rather than through his handlers. The UFC would also no doubt insist that Emelianenko sign an exclusive deal, which goes against his past management strategy.
Of course, the demise of Affliction means there is one fewer place for Emelianenko to go.
White has said Emelianenko, a former Pride champion rated as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, would immediately face heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar if he joined the UFC.
Affliction cancelled its Aug. 1 show in Anaheim, Calif., on Friday in the wake of Josh Barnett failing a drug test. Barnett was to have faced Emelianenko in the main event of the Honda Center card.
Affliction, a clothing company that had branched out into fight promotion, then announced it was getting out of the fight promotion game and signing on with the UFC as a sponsor.
That earned a shot from Finkelchtein.
“With this cancellation they not only let us down but all the fighters and the MMA fans all over the world as well,” he said of Affliction.
White may shed more light on Emelianenko later this week. On Friday, he talked of holding a news conference later this week to update some of the recent twists and turns in the MMA world.
White also told ESPN 1100 in Las Vegas that he may actually base-jump off the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, thus fulfilling a bet over the number of pay-per-view buys for UFC 100.
By Neil Davidson