Former Pride FC heavyweight kingpin Fedor Emelianenko surprised everyone recently by announcing that he had his sights set on coming out of retirement. Vadim Finkelchtein, Fedor’s manager, was among those that was caught off guard by the sudden change of heart.
“I was surprised. I lost the hope to make him (come) back after one or two years of negotiations. I just couldn’t make it,” he said in comments to MMAWeekly.com. “One time he asked me not to talk about this any more. But about a week ago, he told me that he might come back. I couldn’t believe what I heard.”
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As soon as the shock wore off, everyone started speculating about what promotion Fedor would fight for. Popular opinion immediately zoned in on Bellator.
Former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker took the reins at Bellator and immediately brought Fedor into the fold to do promotional stints for the company. Not only that, Fedor also fought for Coker when Strikeforce was still alive and well, and the two reportedly get on famously.
The two parties had been in prolonged negotiations to bring Fedor to the Octagon back when Brock Lesnar sat atop the UFC heavyweight division. They had been zeroing in on a blockbuster affair that would have seen Lesnar put his belt on the line against Fedor at Texas Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) in Dallas.
Needless to say, negotiations blew apart when they couldn’t come to terms, and the fallout has been rocky ever since.
All that appears to be in the past, according to Finkelchtein, however, who says that Fedor bears no ill will towards White or the UFC and won’t be making his decision about where to fight based on the failed negotiations of the past.
“I don’t think that story can influence somehow Fedor’s decision to choose UFC or any other MMA promotion. If they will make a good offer to him that will be good for himself, then he can accept this,” said Finkelchtein during an interview with Submission Radio. “Also Bellator can make a better offer. So I don’t think that situation can influence it somehow.
“Dana talked a lot. (He) talked a lot about Fedor, about (me), and he talked bad. But Fedor understands that it all was just PR. He’s not in a bad relations with Dana and he doesn’t feel anything bad about him.”
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UFC Hall of Famer and current Bellator fighter Tito Ortiz recently acted like he had the inside track on Fedor, telling Submission Radio that he believed the former Pride champion would sign with Bellator.
Finkelchtein, however, has been adamant that no decisions have been made on just where Fedor will land when he returns, and wasn’t ready to commit to a timeframe either. As he said, he’d like Fedor’s first fight back to be for his M-1 Global promotion in Russia, but at the end of the day, the decision is Fedor’s to make.
“When it comes to Fedor, it’s only his choice. He has a very wide choice of MMA organizations in the world, and who will make a better offer to him will get Fedor,” said Finkelchtein.
“I think UFC have a big chance to sign Fedor. It depends on what offer they will make. If Dana would not only talk, but do some things (and) will make a good offer to Fedor, they have a big chance then.”
The only thing for certain right now is that nothing has been set in stone when it comes to Fedor’s return.
“There’s no certain information yet,” said Finkelchtein. “The only thing he told me is that he needed to prepare well enough, to become as dangerous as he used to be.”