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Is the UFC going to lose out on Fedor?

During recent interviews, UFC president Dana White has commented that he expects to have Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko under contract by the end of 2007 or the start of 2008.

However, in a recent interview with, Fedor’s manager, Vadim Finkelstein, makes it sound as though Fedor in the UFC is far from a sure deal: As Fedor’s manager, can you please fill us in on the current state of his contract negotiations.

VF: At the moment we are in negotiations with a number of organizations who have put offers on the table. I’ll be blunt in saying that the UFC offer is the most financially attractive one. However they are very harsh in their terms and are not very flexible in actually negotiating them.

Fedor has now been the PRIDE heavyweight champion for four years and I think we have earned the right to negotiate a contract that suits both parties. Instead we are faced with a blunt “you are either in or you’re out.” This does not really suit us. If the negotiations continue in a similar manner, we’ll prefer to fight for less money but with an organization which is more flexible.

The problem is that Fedor is the face of Combat Sambo in Russia. His popularity is at a level where he is acquainted with president Putin himself, in part because he is so successful and well known for Combat Sambo here.

Combat Sambo is a Russian sport that’s not at a level of difficulty of MMA, but is hugely popular with our public. Fedor must represent Russia in Combat Sambo and at world championships, specifically the ones coming up in September. All we want him to do is compete something like once a year in Combat Sambo. But the UFC is not happy with that.

Their proposal has all kinds of clauses, all kinds of fines etc. that do not suit us. The UFC is not really that eager to communicate and negotiate. The negotiations are still continuing, and we will try very hard to get our demands met, if not Fedor will simply not compete in the UFC, even though that will be unfortunate as they currently have one of the, if not the, strongest, heavyweight divisions in the world.

There’s a whole lot more so you should really check out the interview by clicking here.

  • says:

    Is the UFC going to lose out on Fedor?

    It seems that way. Dana seems to have gotten to the same point as Vince in thinking that the company is more important than the fighters. That’s something that was somewhat useful in the early stages of public acceptance, but now it’s going to tank our sport. If Dana won’t let Fedor fight under his terms, he’ll have ruined the chance to come through on his one primary promise of delivering the best fighters in the best fights.

    Dana’s gonna find out eventually that the UFC will never be considered the best until they have the best fighters. Not having Fedor just makes your entire HW division look like the kiddie table.

  • says:

    Call me totally nuts, but I think Fedor’s legacy will lose out more than the UFC. Obviously, as hardcore fans, we all lose, but the UFC HW division is pretty deep right now, and could get deeper if Chuck moves up for the last fights of his career – ie, the HW division isn’t lacking PPV and gate draws. Fedor’s rep was built outside the US and he doesn’t speak English, so I wonder if stardom in the US of a Russian is really that much of a lock?

    I think the first priority for UFC is getting Denis Kang at 185 and Hendo back at 185 to give that division some serious contenders.

    I’d also prioritize getting Aoki and Gomi at 155 over getting Fedor.

    My 2 cents.

  • says:

    A very similiar thing happened in Nascar when Tony Stewart renegotiated his extension. As a pure racer, he still wanted to compete in Midgets, Silver Crown, etc and his team owners werent happy about it. So, he told them you take back a million ( 6 instead of 7 per year ) and let me race. It worked. Do the same with Fedor…

  • says:

    i think the point is that Fedor is the best, and pretty much every fan above casual knows that. so to have all the best fighters except for that actual #1…well, that’s just going to cause some serious cognitive dissonance. a lot of “yeahbuts”. I mean, can we really, honestly say “this guy is the best HW in the world”, whoever has the UFC HW belt, if he hasn’t fought Fedor? I don’t think so. Fedor is the yardstick. Go back and watch him nearly get killed by randleman then beat him…watch him get rocked by fujita then beat him too. look at his loss! hah!
    Fedor is the proof.

  • says:

    Does anyone seem to notice that Fedor’s manager is not acting in the best interest of his client? He’s instead concerned about bringing more events to Russia and getting more fights for Red Devil fighters, which in essence makes him richer, but does nothing for Fedor. This reeks of corruption.

  • says:


    Welcome to Russia!

  • says:

    Dear Mr. White,

    You are the king of MMA at this point. But the easiest way to lose respect for yourself will be to lose fighters like Fedor Emelyanenko.

    The whole world wants to see this man fight in the UFC. His demands are not unreasonable.

  • Matt says:

    Well, I think that the biggest problem here is Dana White’s stupidity as far as building up fighters goes…

    Don’t get me wrong, it worked at first when the UFC was small. He built Liddell’s stock up enough amongst the retarted fans (yes liddell fans are retarted, he’s a pussy counterpuncher that runs away.

    And building fighters up is exactly why he can’t come to terms with Fedor. Fedor is a Sambo fighter… All he wants to do is fight in Sambo tournaments and represent Russia, because he’s proud of his country and their success w/ Sambo.

    But Dana White is being a big bitch and crying about it… Dana White doesn’t want this to happen for 2 reasons:

    #1 – He’s worried that Fedor will get hurt. A legit concern, but fighters can get injured in training or DRIVING A MOTORCYCLE (cough Mir cough). I mean, Sambo is safer for Fedor than training for MMA imo, he has headgear and all.

    #2 – This is the big one, which is stupid, because it’s NOT a legit worry. Dana is worried that he’ll have Fedor as the UFC champ and then someone beats him in a Sambo match. He feels that this will destroy his investment on Fedor.

    *Side note* By the way, this is stupid because it’s a cross sport comparison, a mistake that only an amateur fan (yes, White is an AMATEUR MMA fan, i said it). That’s like having a UFC fighter who comes from kickboxing lose a kickboxing match, or a UFC fighter that comes from brazilian jiu-jitsu lose a grappling match….

    There are ALWAYS going to be people better than you in other sports. I wouldnt’ be surprised if a Sambo fighter that’s better than Fedor came along and beat him. I mean, there’s a Gi in sambo for one… Fedor fights w/o a Gi in 90% of his fights… Naturally someone who fights with a Gi in 100% of their fights is going to have an edge there. Plus, MMA is WAY higher of a difficulty calibre than MMA. Someone who could compete with Fedor in sambo would get tooled in under a minute with him in MMA. Because of this, Dana white is a moron.

    And there in lies the problem with Dana White that I fear coming…. He tries to build fighters up. In such an upredictable sport, you can’t build up any one fighter.

    Look what happened to Cro Cop when White tried to build CC vs Couture…? Cro Cop got KTFO by Gonzaga…

    Liddell vs Jackson? His paper champ finally lost (wow, Liddell knocked out Couture twice who was disheartened with his life at the time).

    Even St. Pierre lost to Serra..

    All this stuff just proves that you CANNOT build fighters up. Dana White has to give up this shit about controlling fighters and building their reputations up…. It’s honestly starting to bug me.

    Let the fighters do their business in the Octagon for christ sake.


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