Some people call him the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. Fedor Emelianenko enjoyed a 10-year undefeated run, during which he tapped out, knocked out and overcame men bigger than he was. He retired with an impressive record of 35-4.
From 2001 to 2010, Emelianenko ruled MMA. The Russian “Last Emperor” retired in 2010, a winner of his last three fights, but after losing three straight, by submission and KO to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, and Dan Henderson.
Before his losses in Strikeforce, the UFC and Dana White attempted to negotiate with Emelianenko’s promotion company, M-1 Global, but were never able to sign the legend. M-1 Global wanted too much money for the UFC, or too much control over how Emelianenko would be promoted. The UFC, of course, never met M-1 Global’s demands and the result? Possibly the greatest mixed martial artist of all time never fought in the UFC.
For the sake of the sport and Emelianenko’s legacy, these two entities should figure out a way to make piece and come to a deal. It may be too late for an Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar dream match, but it’s not too late for other possibilities.
5. UFC Needs Fedor
The Last Emperor has a humongous cult-like following. His fans absolutely love everything he does. They believe he is the greatest fighter ever and that he, in his prime, was better than Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez and Anderson Silva. Emelianenko is a part of MMA history that really isn’t part of the UFC’s history. The UFC is increasingly losing connection with its history. The UFC isn’t even on speaking terms with guys like Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz, fighters that helped put UFC on the planet. Emelianenko on the roster would complete a part of the MMA history puzzle that the UFC needs if it really wants to be “The NFL” of MMA.
4. Fedor Needs The UFC
As great as Emelianenko is, he can’t say he ever stepped inside the biggest MMA company of all-time. Yes, he’s fought in Japan and around the world, but most people today associate the UFC with MMA. There are a lot of twentysomething UFC fans who don’t know about Emelianenko’s accomplishments, who think MMA history began when Lesnar knocked out Couture to win the heavyweight championship. Emelianenko would benefit from the UFC’s enormous reach by telling his story on their stage.
3. A Deal With Fedor Would Help Dana White’s Image
White is the greatest mixed martial arts promoter of all time, but sometimes he says things that enrage people. He doesn’t hesitate to make his comments personal and to throw insults at anyone and anybody who disagrees with him. White, after failing in a deal to sign Emelianenko, has said that Emelianenko is overrated and that he never really wanted to fight in the UFC. White could look like the bigger man if he brought Emelianko into the UFC, even in an MMA ambassador role. In terms of goodwill, White standing alongside Emelianenko could create one of those feel-good moments that the UFC needs to balance out all of those other attacks on ex-MMA fighters.
2. It Would Be Good For Business
The UFC already owns the PRIDE library, so it can distribute the Emelianenko fights. What about a Best of Fedor DVD set, packaged with an interview with the legend? With the promotional backing of the UFC, the DVD could make a lot of money. Instead of trying to write Emelianenko out of MMA history, the UFC should embrace him, and ultimately try to make some money off of it. Emelianenko would be great for TV ratings and DVD sales, and would make a lot of fans really happy.
1. Does Emelianenko Have One Big Fight Left?
Yes, he was knocked out by Henderson and Silva, and submitted by Werdum. But does that mean he is shot? He’s 37 years old. Henderson is still fighting at 43. The UFC could turn Emelianenko’s “last fight” into a huge Pay-Per-View number, particularly with the right opponent. Let’s hope M-1 Global would be willing to negotiate a reasonable contract with the UFC, one that allows Emelianenko to retire in the UFC, but that doesn’t attempt to bankrupt the company. White is a businessman. There’s money to be made off of Emelianenko. Emelianenko needs to solidify his legacy, and one fight in the UFC could do that.