It’s been a couple of years since Dana White went on an international trip to try and negotiate a deal to bring Fedor Emelianenko to the UFC, but it is still a hot button subject with a great many fans that want to see the former Pride champion compete in the Octagon.
Since that time, the UFC has established an strong heavyweight division with champion Brock Lesnar ruling the roost and top contenders like Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, and Shane Carwin anchoring the weight class along with him.
Fedor lost his most recent effort, being submitted by Fabricio Werdum, and while many believed that White would have been cheering his demise, he says it was far from that.
“A lot of people were saying that, ‘you must have been happy when Fedor (lost).’ To be honest with you, I’m as much of a fight fan as all you guys are,” White said on Friday. “You hear me talk about Fedor. I flew to crazy places, made him a very respectable offer to come in and fight. I would have loved to have done him and Brock Lesnar or whoever. I tried to make that fight happen, and they know it, whether they say it or not.
“They know what I did, they know where I went, they know what I offered, and they still didn’t take the fight. It takes two to make a deal.”
White explained that the two sides had moved past the co-promotion ordeal, which is what most people believed was the biggest hang up between the UFC and Fedor’s management company, M-1 Global. With the loss to Werdum hanging overhead now, the UFC president thinks the team representing Emelianenko might have a few regrets.
“I told them, ‘you’re one punch away from being worth zero or half of what you’re worth,’” White commented. “I bet they wish they took it now. The other thing with Fedor is I never say never.”
Even if Fedor ever did make it to the UFC, there are no guarantees on his success or failure. As evidenced with fighters like Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and other mainstays from Pride, just being great in one promotion doesn’t always equal success in another.
“There’s so many guys that have come into the UFC with a ton of hype and then they lose in the UFC,” said White.
Of course Fedor’s monumental unbeaten streak will always be seen as one of the greatest runs in MMA history, but the UFC president is quick to point out that some of his most epic wins are in the past, and he’s focused on the present.
“That was in 2005. It’s 2010,” White said when pushed about Fedor’s record speaking for itself. “So does Muhammed Ali’s (record), should I bring him back in?”
As a fight fan, White also is quick to point out that he’s still a fan of other heavyweights out there competing, such as Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, but he admits that he could never allow one of his fighters to do things like K-1. Due to the schedule, he has to keep moving with the UFC.
“Obviously one of the top heavyweights is Fedor, and I would say Overeem, too, and I like Overeem. I’ve always had a good relationship with him. It’s hard to tell outside, and what a lot of people get caught up in is ‘oh this guy’s out there.’ What you have to realize is the guys that fight in the UFC fight the very best in the world three times a year,” White explained.
“I think anybody’s a possibility. He’s supposed to be their champion. They’ve had a hard time getting him to fight. Did you ever notice these guys at Strikeforce have a hard time getting their people to come in and actually fight. If that was the case, you guys would never see the fights that you want to see. Especially with as many fights as we’re doing, when we sign a guy we want him to fight three times in a year. How the hell is he going to fight somewhere else? It’s impossible.”
While the door on any of these fighters are never closed, the UFC has built its brand in a specific way that has garnered great success and it’s doubtful that any one fighter will ever be the person that makes the promotion suddenly change what has worked for so many years.