Fedor Emelianenko. Photo courtesy of BodogFight.
Despite published reports stating that a deal was nearly complete, perennial heavyweight king Fedor Emelianenko remains a free agent and not part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s ever-growing heavyweight roster.
Emelianenko and his manager, M-1 Global figurehead Vadim Finkelchtein, held a press conference today in Anaheim, California to discuss the recent rumors and a variety of topics. It was also announced that Emelianenko will serve as the featured athlete in EA Sports’ first-ever MMA-related video game, “EA Sports MMA”, which is scheduled to be released next year.
Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday afternoon that Emelianenko’s management team and the UFC were finalizing a contract that would reportedly be announced as early as this coming Friday.
On Wednesday however, Finkelchtein was singing a much different tune after revealing that his team had sent a counter offer to the UFC with the inclusion of their infamous request to co-promote, a business method that the UFC is unlikely to agree to.
“Our offer is simple… we have a champion and they have a champion,” Finkelchtein said. “We are offering to have a co-promotion. We’re ready to invest together and get the profit together. We want to work with the UFC, but we don’t want to wait, we want to move forward (in negotiations). We will only work on co-promotion deals.”
Talks between Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Finkelchtein have not gone well in the past due to the Russian’s insistence that the two brands co-promote together. Due to a shaky past that saw the UFC share fighters with PRIDE without recompensation in return, Zuffa is unlikely to change their mindset regarding the idea any time soon.
In addition, Finkelchtein criticized Zuffa for the near monopoly that they hold over the mixed martial arts world. It’s a situation that Finkelchtein, and even Emelianenko, wouldn’t mind changing in the near future.
“Fedor is the face of M-1 Global,” Finkelchtein said.“M-1 has held shows all over the world and it only makes sense for Fedor to compete under the M-1 banner. In order for a deal to be done with the UFC, there has to be co-promotion. It’s important for the sport to have competition, not a monopoly.”
“Fedor and I are partners. We share the same interests and money isn’t everything to us. We want to help the sport. The UFC won’t be able to control the whole (MMA) world.”
Finkelchtein revealed that Scott Coker’s Strikeforce brand is also in the running to acquire Emelianenko’s services. The San Jose-based promotion is one of several reported parties that have provided M-1 with interesting offers.
Also announced today for EA Sports’ new MMA-themed video game will be Strikeforce light heavyweights Gegard Mousasi and Renato “Babalu” Sobral. They join the likes of Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Frank Shamrock, and other athletes that have already signed on for the project.
The UFC sent out a memo to fighters and agents alike earlier this month that any fighter not under contract with the UFC but planning on signing on with EA’s new project will be barred from ever fighting in a Zuffa-owned show. Whether or not this will prevent Emelianenko from joining the UFC’s ranks remains to be seen.
Also during the press conference, Emelianenko addressed recent reported comments by his brother, Aleksander, regarding his failure to agree to the UFC’s contract terms, stating that he has been unable to see the contract that his brother is referring to.
M-1 Global lawyer also addressed questions regarding Affliction’s decision to stop promoting MMA events and whether any legal action will be coming regarding Emelianenko’s one remaining fight with the organization.
“We’re exploring all options at the time,” M-1 lawyer Steve Bash said. “I can promise you that if something was done wrong, somebody will be held responsible.”
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