I have been fairly critical of UFC president Dana White over the last year. My criticism was at an all-time high when negotiations between the UFC and Fedor Emelianenko broke down last year and the plans for Brock Lesnarâs next fight fell apart. However, seven moths later and it looks like Dana White was correct all along about Fedor, M-1, and those âcrazy Russians.â
Strikeforce won the Fedor Emelianenko sweepstakes last year when Fedor Emelianenko opted to sign a three-fight deal with Strikeforce, rather than take a UFC deal reportedly valued at over million. Fight fans like me openly questioned Fedorâs decision to fight lower quality opponents than fight the best in the UFC. Dana White blamed Fedorâs management team of M-1 Promotion for failing to secure deal. White found their co-promotional demands outrageous and in the end, a deal breaker. It looks like White made the right call to pass on arguably the greatest heavyweight in the world than do business with people he referred to as, âcrazy Russians.â
Dave Meltzer has a fascinating report on Yahoo.com about current issues between Fedor Emelianenko and his management/promotional team M-1 and Strikeforce. MMA writers and fans became curious when Fedor wasnât included on the next CBS Strikeforce special. Some writers reported a rift between M-1 and Strikeforce. Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker dismissed those reports at the time. Yet, Dave Meltzerâs piece confirms that there are indeed business issues at hand between Fedorâs team and Strikeforce. It seems that after one fight, M-1 are more concerned about negotiating a new deal for Fedor rather than honoring their current deal signed a few months back and agreeing to a new fight.
âFirst we need to make a deal,â said M-1 Global director of operations Evgeni Kogan. âWeâre almost there. Once we get that part out of the way, then weâll decide on an opponent and a date. No fight is scheduled.â
So you mean to tell me that after just one fight and seven months that Fedor Emelianenko and his M-1 team are already looking for a new deal? Could you imagine if Fedor had signed with the UFC? Taking Brock Lesnarâs illness into consideration, it is likely Fedor would have fought someone like Shane Carwin or Frank Mir for the interim title. At this point we would be talking about the biggest fight in MMA history between Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko. Imagine the power that Fedor and M-1 Global would have and what kind of crazy shenanigans they would be trying to pull? Quite frankly it looks like Dana White avoided a potential nightmare and in the end, the UFC fans wouldnât get the dream fight they would have been promised upon Fedorâs signing.
The prevailing issue for M-1 Global continues to be this ridiculous co-promotion business. According to the quotes in the Yahoo.com, M-1 feels that their company wasnât mentioned enough in the promotion for Fedorâs Strikeforce fight against Brett Rogers. Why would they be? It was a Strikeforce show and from everything I can gather, CBS made a deal with Strikeforce and not M-1. I mean what more do these people want or expect at this point? Any good will that Fedor Emelianenko may have left with MMA fans is about to be lost all over as Dana White would put it, those âcrazy Russians.â
At this point it may be best for Strikeforce to cut their losses and call it a one-shot deal. I find it kind of ironic that Fedor Emelianenko and M-1 have filed a lawsuit against Affliction for failing to hold up the terms of their deal, when you have the Fedor and M-1 failing to hold up to the terms of their own deal with Strikeforce. A bit of hypocrisy wouldnât you say? I wonder if Scott Coker has his lawyer ready.
The bottom line here is as a huge Fedor fan and someone who wrote a piece declaring him the âFighter of the Decade,â I am about done rooting or even caring about what Fedor does next. I am also done blaming M-1 Global for Fedorâs faults. Fedor is a grown man and at this point, his reputation as a businessman in the MMA world is falling apart. I have no reason to think that Fedor doesnât know what is going on, or doesnât support this kind of extortion for a new deal that M-1 Global is trying to pull. Sadly, the more this case plays out the less likely it looks like that we will ever see Fedor Emelianenko against Brock Lesnar, or any of the great UFC heavyweights.
I think we can finally stop blaming Dana White for that one.