The Fight That Almost Was: Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko at Cowboys Stadium in 2012

January 27, 2013
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Fedor vs Brock LesnarDespite years of negotiations gone wrong, the UFC was close to signing former PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko to fight Brock Lesnar less than a year ago before the Russian champion ultimately decided to retire from fighting.

UFC president Dana White dropped the bombshell following the UFC on Fox 6 press conference when speaking to members of the media about the company’s possibly move into Russia later this year.

At UFC 146 in May 2012, former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar attended the event and met with White in a meeting he called at the time “one of the worst meetings we’ve ever had with Brock Lesnar.” In reality, White’s chat with the former champion went extremely well because, despite saying he was retiring from mixed martial arts just five months earlier, Lesnar was ready to sign on for a superfight against Fedor Emelianenko.

“We were right there. When I was talking about doing that big Dallas Texas Stadium show it was going to be Brock Lesnar vs. (Fedor Emelianenko),” White revealed on Saturday.

“Remember when I met with him and said it didn’t go well? It actually went well. He wanted to fight Fedor. (Fedor’s dad passed away) and he said, ‘I’m done. I want to spend the rest of my life with my family.'”

Following a three-fight losing streak in Strikeforce that ended in 2011, Fedor returned by fighting twice for M-1 Global and at a New Year’s Eve show in Japan, picking up three consecutive victories to get him back on track.

It was after his June 2012 fight against former UFC heavyweight contender Pedro Rizzo that Fedor decided to retire from the sport of MMA and spend more time at home with his family. White says it was actually the death of his father that led to his retirement and increased his desire to focus on his family instead of fighting.

During the long process to try and get a deal done, UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta traveled to Russia and met with Fedor to try and negotiate a fight with Lesnar. The two parties came very close to a deal, but then when Emelianenko’s father passed away, he ultimately passed on the fight.

That eventually led to Lesnar opting to stay retired and focused on his career in professional wrestling in the WWE.

“We were negotiating for months and then after his dad died and he said ‘that’s it, I’m done’ or whatever, and then Brock said ‘I’m done, too,'” said White.

If pro sports has taught us anything, it’s that an athlete’s desire to compete doesn’t just go away because they say they’re retired. Still, White’s pretty sure Fedor was serious about calling it a career, and he’s fine with that, but you can still never say never.

“From what I understand, he has absolutely, positively made the decision never to fight again. But, I mean, anything’s possible,” said White.

As for former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, once the dream of facing Fedor fizzled, so did his desire to give fighting one more try. He’s now content with his professional wrestling gig, and much like the Russian legend, Lesnar is fine spending plenty of time at home with his wife and kids.

“He’s done,” White said about Lesnar. “He’s gonna do his stint in WWE and then go away. He’s got a big farm up and Canada and (expletive). He loves to farm, he loves to be with his family, and out in the middle of nowhere.”

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  • What a nice bed time story.

  • Mike mckinney

    If there was ever an article to not allow comments it’s this one. Let the crap begin…

  • stevemcz11

    couldn’t care less

  • tbone

    What a dumb article…. was this a story that they forgot to post two years ago??? Who cares. Lol

  • b-soc

    C’Mon guys, its not a dumb article, its just a little update from 9 months ago behind the scenes. It is interesting to know what happened.

  • Cereal Killer

    Sorry, but I’m the guy that says Fedor sucked. Most of the Pride guys sucked! Shogun sucks, Rampage sucks, Nog sucks, CroCop sucks and the list goes on and on. These guys aren’t that old, they just aren’t that good! The sport caught and passed them up so fast, that people think these guys were good. These guys were all turds.

    • Your_Dad

      I’m going to be honest here. You suck.

      • MuayThaiFood


      • Anthony Lopez

        Yes, yes he does. And passionately I might add

    • Marcus miles

      yeah Rampage ko’d chuck and got the title because he sucks, Shogun Ko’d Lyoto and got the title because he sucks. Nog is still whipping ass because he sucks and CroCop has a bad ass legacy because he sucks. Every dog has his day and all these fighters are bad ass and the sport wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for these guys paving the way. Your opinion sucks!

      • Cereal Killer

        Rampage stepped in right as Chuck was on his glass chin free fall. Shogun, make the excuses but he lost to Bonner and barely beat a old man Coleman. CroCop didn’t beat anybody of worth in the UFC. Nog , he lost to every top guy he faced in the UFC! You bring up Machida, who is 2-3 in his last 5 fights. I wouldn’t call that a great record. The sport is where it is today because of the UFC, not Pride.

        • kbroesq

          First of all, when did Bonnar fight Shogun. Second, Rampage beat chuck before their second fight. I won’t touch the comment on Cro-Cop. He did not do well in the UFC, for sure, but I would never say he (or any fighter in the UFC) sucks, because it’s disrespectful. What do you do for a living? Probably data entry or something worthless.

          Finally, anyone who would call Machida into question has no idea what they’re talking about. Machida beat Rampage, first of all. Rampage barely won the first two rounds (probably should have been 10/10 rounds), and then got demolished in the third. That’s the way the UFC scores, though. Ohh and he lost to Jon Jones – yeah, what a hack! Keep in mind, Machida has beat some of the best in there, and he always looks good. You just write a guy off because he loses a couple of times!? You know, Anderson Silva lost to Ryo Chonan, and Daiju Takase…he sucks too, right?

          People like you need to jump of a cliff.

          • Cereal Killer

            Forgive me, I meant the other TUF overrate Griffin. Shogun barely beat Coleman, he beat Machida(which I still think gets too much credit), then Griffin and Vera. He lost to Griifin, Machida, Bones, Henderson and Gustafsson. Machida is his only UFC victory of any worth!

            Silva losing seven years ago doesn’t mean anything. This is a “What have you done for me lately” business.

    • That makes a lot of sense, now I understand how they became UFC champions.

  • adam1848

    I wouldn’t have postponed my plans to mow the lawn to watch these two fight. Couldn’t think of a more irrelevant fight if I tried. And for Cowboy Stadium??…this is where the UFC was focusing its efforts during 2012…the year of crappy cards and poor match ups? Disappointing.

  • No Regrets

    Nope. The fight that almost was and ruined Affliction MMA was Barnett vs Fedor. That was the matchup everyone wanted at the time.

  • WarReaper

    Brock would have been smashed

  • Dana White

    P4P Greatest Fighter In The World!!! Fedor Emelianenko!!!!!

  • insane187288

    Funny thing is that we all would have went and watched it somewhere so why we complainging about it.

  • adski

    pointless article

  • adski

    Dana is such a two faced **** don’t believe a single word that comes out of that ******* mouth.Earlier after affliction fell apart he said he went to a weird island to make a deal and failed which was a stupid lie, fedor laughed and said he was hearing that for the first time when Helwani asked him about that. When fedor lost to Dan he was bitching how fedor was overrated and he sucked and couldn’t even fight a middleweight . now why even bother to say this. Two faced, deaf, *****.


    Articles like this is why I come to this site. Whoever said this was dumb article was mistaken.


    Dana is not dumb or 2 faced. It’s called marketing smart guy. What a moron.