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Dana White refers to Fedor Emelianenko as a “top five pound-for-pound” fighter

Over the course of the last year and a half, there might not have been a more harsh critic of former PRIDE and current WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko than UFC President Dana White.

During a conference call in October of 2007 to promote the signing of heavyweight Brock Lesnar as well as announce the signing of a light heavyweight superfight between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79, White was quoted as saying that “Fedor Sucks. He’s not even a top five heavyweight.”

However, following first round stoppage wins over former UFC heavyweight champions Tim Sylvia at Affliction’sBanned” event this past July and Andrei Arlovksi at “Day of Reckoning” last month, White has changed his tune.

In a new CBSSports.com article by FiveOuncesOfPain.com and 15Rounds.com contributor Gary Herman, White is quoted as giving Fedor some much deserved credit.

“Yes, he’s top five [pound-for-pound],” White is quoted as saying during a post-UFC 94 press conference. “I say he’s top five. He can punch. I’ll say that.”

Despite being negative towards Fedor, White has maintained for quite some time that he’d welcome the Russian heavyweight into the UFC’s heavyweight division. This past weekend was no different but White once again expressed pessimism of being able to bring him into the organization due to concerns about his management.

“When I first met with these guys, I was with them in the U.K.,” said White. “They said to me, ‘Here’s what we want to do. My brother is the biggest rock concert promoter over there so here’s what we want. We want you to build an arena in Russia.’ I said, ‘Time out. I’m not looking to build arenas.'”

There appears to be one specific member of Fedor’s management team that he is most concerned about.

“Their judgment on who they do business with is strange,” he said. “They work with (M-1 USA vice president) Jerry Millen. Does that say enough for you? That sums it up right there.”

26 COMMENTS
  • benkordus says:

    doesnt matter. no one can say they are the best heavyweight until they beat fedor.
    everyone should realize that now.

    if the UFC really puts on fights that “the people” want to see, they better swallow their pride and sign fedor.

    yours,

    benji

  • Austin says:

    Dana is fickle. Old news. He isn’t going to change contract rules for one guy. Also old news. I have stopped giving a shit. Fedor will continue to fight dudes for affliction.

  • Matthew Lenz says:

    The UFC doesn’t want to sign fighters, they want to own them.

  • skwirrl says:

    Millen owned Dana so hard he’s STILL in his head 2 weeks later

  • Munchy says:

    I gues we will just have to wait until the fighters leave the UFC and then sign with Affliction to see how many ex UFC champs Fedor can beat.

    I wonder if Dana likes Humble pie perhaps he and BJ can make a reservation for two.

    BJ talked a great game and could not back it up at all, I was very disappointed at how bad he looked, he totally got out worked and out classed by GSP.I have to respect humility in people who know they are at the top of their game, Score one for the good guys like Fedor and GSP

  • ryan says:

    dana and the ufc want to give us weak cards and weak matchups because they still have the power. most people that watch the ufc only watch the ufc and not all of mma like most of us that spend our time on websites such as this!!!

    they put so much on a lose and to me if you are a top guy and lose to a top guy then move on.

    see out of the last two ufc ppv there has been no really great fights and if it weren’t for that AFFLICTION card i would be really pissed about this whole month of mma because of the ufc and there bullshit.
    they have the fighters to put on great fight on every card top to bottom but they are to conserned with building guys up..

  • Jonathan Snowden says:

    Imagine that. As Affliction looks to be going under, and negotiations with Fedor seem imminent, Dana changes his tune. Of course, it should have been obvious to all that he never believed what he was saying about Fedor. It just makes good sense to downplay the competition. Now that they have another shot at Fedor, White will be more complimentary.

  • JohnnyRev says:

    Fedor will never be in the UFC because M-1 would not exist without Fedor. There is no way Dana or the UFC would ever do a cross promotion . First they have more star power in one weight class than all of the other promotions together in all weight classes. M-1 will always be a third rate promotion becuase it lacks the proper business acumen to grow there product. M-1 and Fedor will need the UFC before the UFC needs Fedor. He is a luxury at best to them…

  • cm40 says:

    If Fedor wants to become a HUGE star in the US then he’ll need to work with the UFC. The rumors about Affliction may have been squashed for the time being but they can’t compete with the UFC as long as even sports news refers to the sport as UFC.

    Affliction’s every now and then events are not helping promote their promotion
    They got Barnett vs. Fedor. Then what’s next for Fedor? Brock Lesnar is now a star. Fedor even said he would like to fight Lesnar. Face it, if you’re not a hardcore full time MMA fan in the US you don’t really know Fedor. But Lesnar, Mir, Couture, and even Kimbo are big stars here. If Fedor wants to be a US star, The UFC is the one the general MMA audience take more seriously.
    UFC showed in their last event that their pay is getting better as their promotion gets bigger. I’m sure it’s not the money issue. It’s a matter of Fedor’s people thinking the US is like Russia. It’s not. It’s the US and the UFC is god here… like it or not.

  • KTru says:

    Complimentaryand condasending, gotta love DW and his play on words.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    It’s Fedor’s career and he can do as he pleases, but he’s limiting his potential by staying away from UFC. He’s beaten Sylvia and Arlovski, and the only remaining heavyweight for him to fight in Affliction is Barnett. I think he wins that fight, and then what does he do? Affliction isn’t developing new talent; it depends upon fighters who built their careers in other orgs, especiallly Pride. MMA is passing those fighters by, and that’s apparent from their struggles in the UFC. The top shelf fighters in the UFC are faster, better conditioned, and have better rounded skill sets than the Pride era fighters. That was apparent even in the Arlovski fight. Sure, he got ko’d, but his striking was more technical and precise than Fedor’s, and none of the other Pride era fighters are even close to that level of striking. Facing the best competition forces you to evolve and improve, and in the long run the level of competition for Fedor is better in the UFC, never mind the economics.

  • CubanLinx69 says:

    i had no idea about the whole arena thing..if its true thats pretty ridiculous.

  • kidneybeans says:

    Jonathan Snowden……………………What makes you so sure Affliction is going under? I will be the first to admit the numbers don’t look that good but what the hell do I know? Do you have some kind of inside knowledge of Affliction’s books? Do you have anything to back that up or are you, like everyone else, just looking at the published reports and deciding that they can’t possibly stay in business? I’m really not trying to call you out and be a dick I really want to know what your rationale for saying that was.

    I know you are a contributor to this site and by most accounts a knowledgable person so that’s why I’m wondering what you know. I just thought that if you are just speculating, as I suspect you might be, it might be a good idea to not state those speculations as common knowledge. Since not everyone is as excited about the prospects of another mma promotion folding as you seem to be. And if you do know something, by all means share.

  • EamonJGod says:

    Fedor doesn’t need to be a huge star in the States. He has super hero status in Russia, they had him carry the Olympic torch, they particularly worship him. On top of that Fedor has die hard fans all around the world, including American ones. If he doesn’t want to sacrifice things that are important to him to make Zuffa more money he has no reason to, certainly not to appease North American fight fans. All in all there’s reasons on both sides it hasn’t happened, but it really should happen. It’s got to be one of the best things for the sport to unify the top heavy weight slot.

  • mindone says:

    how about and season of the ultimate fighter with fedor and lesaner as the coaches and then primetime series and a fight? it might cost the ufc to get fedor and his managment is a pain but something rationally should be able to worked out as the reward could be a real explosion of interest in mma and.. it would be awesome..

    think about it dana.. you want this sport to be big , well think big..

  • RICK says:

    Come on guys, relax a bit. Dana has a business to run, Fedor has his best interest in mind, and wants to make as much money as he can with less commitment as he can. Lets pray for a mutual aggreement, very soon. But he Fedor needs to start by getting rid of that dumbass Jerry Millen.

  • meatloaf says:

    I don’t think Fedor is ever going to fight in the UFC nor do I think he has too.
    When he’s done fighting for Affliction I could see him fighting in Japan and in M-1 promoted events ( like his brother Aleks) for the rest of his career.

  • Kym Ireland says:

    Bloody hell all I want to see is Fedor smash the crap out of Brock…….and then Bobby Lashley. And then maybe Hulk Hogan.

  • dan says:

    i think the time is right for fedor to come to the ufc. i would like to see him take on the winner of lesnar v mir and i think a fight with couture will also happen. fedor needs to make his demands more realistic though. fedor needs the ufc more than the ufc needs fedor!

  • meatloaf says:

    @ dan “fedor needs the ufc more than the ufc needs fedor!”
    Really?
    He’s seems to be doing just fine without ever having to step foot into the Octagon.

  • King James says:

    Fedor makes WAY more money In M-1 then he would make in the UFC. He would just be making the UFC money. He can do whatever he wants without them. Also, Affliction is NOT going under. even though the books looked bad, the backers have enough money to compensate.

  • JDamico23 says:

    what was the point of this article? Who cares what Dana thinks about Fedor? If Dana even says the name Fedor, even if not referring to Fedor E., its like first page news in this sport. Its stupid, grow up everyone. PS-When the ufc is the only organization left to fight in, Fedor will need the UFC to showcase himself, or he will retire. And as far as Fedor making way more money…didnt he make like 300k for his fight vs AA…no win bonus…however AA made like 1.5 million.

  • Grappo says:

    That’s a cool pic of Fedor. It looks like he heard someone behind him fart.

  • JDamico23 says:

    Mindone-You realize what this sport was when Dana got his hands on it right? Im pretty sure when he took it over they werent even allowed to PPV it. No big venues, no money flow, no respect, and deffinately no TV coverage. Nowadays we can see UFC product for a couple hours a day, due to WEC and UFN replays. We can see Forrest Griffin and Renzo Gracie in a Law and Order cameo. Randy was in the movie Redbelt, tv show The Unit, and that new Scorpion King movie. Restaraunts pay 8000 dollars to order UFC cards to bring in revenue for themselves. Celebs are strewn about the arena at every live show. Dana has thought big and succeeded. Dana does not need Fedor in the least bit…and if Fedor NEVER fights for the ufc, the ufc wont lose a dollar, so y bend your rules for this guy? And one more thing pertaining to you wanting Dana to think big. This sport is now covered on ESPN. Granted the scroll bar ruined the coleman rua fight for me, its just another step in the right direction for dana and the company.

    PS Kidneybeans- Thats Snowdens style. speculate as if common knowledge.

  • JDamico23 says:

    And by the way…i realize this is now going to sound like im tottally hugging UFC…but wasnt the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts…which is the name on the HW title fedor has, founded in 2007? Fedors title didnt exist until he beat Tim Sylvia, so why the need to unify the title Mark Coleman first held, with the title that was created so Fedor can have a belt? If it were important for a unified belt, maybe the organization calling itself the World Alliance of MMA would have started with THE mma organization first. Not a t-shirt company. Its things like this that i believe screw up MMA for less hardcore fans. Im down with unifying the interim and real hw belt. Trying to explain to my friend that there are 3 HW champions in two organizations right now pretty much put him off to the idea of the legitimacy of the sport. Interim belts are dumb too. They should be made of cardboard. Basically, i dont want to see a belt that men bled, sweat, trained, and fought for for over a decade be connected to one that was created a year ago so a new organization can have a belt to call their own.

  • Ross says:

    @King James

    What makes you think Fedor makes more money at M1 than he would in the UFC? All you are allowed to see is the base salary disclosed by the athletic commission. UFC doesn’t announce their locker room bonuses, their ppv %bonuses, and any other “hey I want you to stick around” bonuses. But the biggest payday I think is from the sponsorship the UFC brings. Affliction doesn’t attract sponsors worth shit. Companies see UFC’s ratings, always over 500,000 ppv buys, vs Afflictions always under 80,000 ppv buys. Companies know that their logo or product is not going to be seen at an Affliction show. Dana said himself on his blog, about 20 fighters in the UFC are making millions. That’s a lot; who knows how many are making in the mid to high 6-figure range. And if all this is not convincing enough, the UFC has job security. Fedor surely realizes Affliction isn’t a stable promotion.

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