Earlier this week, legendary former Pride FC heavyweight champion Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko came out and said the reason that he never signed with the UFC was due to Dana White’s insults towards his team, and an overall feeling that White didn’t like him.
The whole ordeal of not signing Emelianenko to fight in the Octagon is one of White’s biggest regrets, but he was simply not willing to acquiesce to the lofty demands that Emelianenko’s M-1 Global management team laid forth, which included an unheard of co-promotion deal with the UFC.
At yesterday’s UFC 166 pre-fight media scrum, White fired back at the accusations of Fedor, noting that he was indeed relieved that a deal was never reached. That sounds like quite the opposite of his biggest regret. White’s words:
“We made every big fight with every fighter since we bought this company. You don’t think we wanted to do Fedor vs. Brock Lesnar? I f****** wanted to make that fight so bad. Dude, when I tell you that we did everything – someday I’ll tell you the story of how much we offered that f*****, too. Literally, when we got on the plane to fly back, we were like, ‘Thank f****** God they turned that offer down.’”
Much has been made of the White’s decided effort to get Emelianenko signed, but ultimately, Fedor’s team just wasn’t comfortable with the offer the UFC put forth; regardless of how big it was. It’s unfortunate that no one got to see just how “The Last Emperor” fared in the Octagon.
White detailed that his business partner, UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta, also got involved in the contract talks and was met with unreasonable demands:
“We had to build a f****** stadium in Russia, and we had to do all this stupid s***, stuff that no normal f****** human being would do. And now they lay in bed every night and regret not doing that deal. I explained this to Fedor. We’re talking Dallas, Texas Stadium. We’re laying this massive f****** offer on the table. Who knows? Maybe Fedor knocks out Brock, because we saw Brock against guys that hit hard. And that’s probably what [Fedor and manager Vadim Finkelstein] look at now, like, ‘Goddamn.’ I said, ‘You’re one punch away from being worth f****** zero.’”
Emelianenko never ended up being worth zero, but his value took a huge hit when Fabricio Werdum submitted him inside the Strikeforce cage in 2010. Then he got throttled by Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, and then knocked out by Dan Henderson, and the rest is history. The deal that White once offered was long gone, and all that’s left is speculation as to what could have been.
It’s likely that the truth is somewhere in between all of this convoluted back-and-forth, but it’s interesting for White to be ‘glad’ that he wasn’t able to sign the fighter that became his biggest regret. Now Emelianenko is retired, and has no desire to prove anything else in MMA.
The only true losers in this whole ordeal are the fans.