by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
UFC president Dana White says he woke up feeling destiny on his side.
It was Tuesday morning, and he, along with Lorenzo Fertitta, were due for an all-important teleconference with Fedor Emelianenko, Vadim Finkelstein, and various representatives from the UFC and M-1 Global.
“I woke up telling Lorenzo… it’s gonna happen today,” White told reporters during a Friday teleconference. “We’re gonna make this thing happen. We both felt that way. We wanted it, and it didn’t happen. And it didn’t not happen because of me and Lorenzo, I can tell you that right now.”
White and the UFC made their offer to Emelianenko’s camp – one report has placed the value at $30 million, while another has halved that amount – and was met with a counter offer. Fedor Emelianenko would fight in the UFC if M-1 could co-promote the event.
“Their response was very, very diplomatic,” Finkelstein told reporters following an M-1 press conference in Anaheim, Calif., on Wednesday. “It was very cordial. Surprisingly. We know Dana White likes to argue and say a couple of bad words, but it wasn’t the case at all.”
But of all the concessions White said his company made, co-promotion was a non-negotiable deal breaker.
“We didn’t hold back on anything… we gave everything,” he said. “There is no compromise on the co-promotion.”
White said the counter offer was “insanity.”
“(Fedor) got offered a (expletive) of money,” he said. “A ton of money… he could go fight in Sambo every (expletive) Thursday night if he wants to. He could do everything he wanted to do, and we showed them nothing but respect. I put my money where my mouth was, and they’re coming up with unrealistic (expletive).”
The bottom line, from the mouths of both promoters, was that there was no deal.
“Why the hell would I let anybody come in and co-promote with us?” White asked. “This thing that we built… the Fertittas risked all of their money, all the things that we’ve done and busted our ass over the 10 years that we’ve been in this business, and these guys (are) gonna walk in and say, ‘yeah, we’re gonna be in business with you guys.’
“It’s like Brett Favre negotiating with one of the football teams and saying, yeah, I’m gonna be your 50-percent partner. It’s like, what?”
Finkelstein said he and Emelianenko’s decision revolved around the desire to model M-1 after fighters like Oscar De La Hoya and Roy Jones Jr., who created promotional companies around their individual brand. Loaning Fedor to fight was only part of the equation.
“The UFC proposal was very good, but it does not give us a chance to do what we as a company, including Fedor, are wanting and planning to do,” said Finkelstein.
White says he tried to explain – as the “nicest Dana ever” – that not only was co-promotion a breach of the UFC’s business model, it wasn’t logistically sound.
“The Fertittas have a gaming license,” said White. “People from other companies just don’t walk in and jump into business with the Fertitta brothers. There have to be full background checks and all kinds of crazy (expletive). It doesn’t work that way. It’s impossible. It will never happen.”
It was one of the few times, White said, where he wasn’t able to do his job.
“I was (expletive) miserable… miserable the entire day because we couldn’t make this deal,” said White.
He initially stressed the deal was not dead in the water. “They can call me right now,” he said. But as Friday’s call progressed, his hope, along with his patience, faded. With Tito Ortiz back into the UFC fold, he turned the focus away from the Russians.
“There is no sticking point,” White blurted. “I’m over it. I’m over the deal. I want to talk about the guys that do want to fight the best in the world. (Tito) and 300 other guys that fight in the UFC are willing to put it on the line and fight the best in the world three times a year. A guy that doesn’t want to? (expletive) him.”