Fedor Emelianenko was known as the greatest MMA fighter on the planet for the best part of 10 years during his active stint, and remains one of the most debated faces in the game. He had a ten year reign as the top dog in combat sports, although there was always the elusive UFC contract lingering in the background. That being said, the fact that Emelianenko didn’t sign to the UFC never really took away from his legacy, although everyone wanted him to overcome the politics that kept “The Last Emperor” from joining the promotion.
Between 2003-7, Emelianenko made himself a household name as he tore through the competition as Pride FC heavyweight champion. His fights now a thing of legend, “The Last Emperor” spoke to AXS TV about his time in Pride, and also talked about why the UFC deal never materialized:
“Well, the UFC didn’t want me to fight there, so what could I do? We were unable to make a deal. They offered unacceptable conditions. Actually, when I fought in PRIDE, we had the best fighters in the world. Back then the UFC had a very serious and big crisis. They were going through some hard times being able to get top fighters. All the best fighters were in PRIDE.”
UFC president Dana White often blamed Fedor’s management team M-1 and Vladim Finklestein for the deal never being done, but Fedor often responded with accusations of greed on the promotion’s part. He continued:
“Later on, when PRIDE ceased to exist, the UFC didn’t immediately pick up speed. Currently, the UFC is a ‘super organization,’ in the world, probably the best. There are several top fighters in every weight category and in general it is hard to see the whole picture, I’d say. So there are some fighters whom it is interesting to watch, but the rest of them, well, it’s not interesting for me.”
Obviously Fedor is not the only guy to feel this way, as the UFC becomes more and more diluted it almost alienates fans. That is, at least, in my opinion. Later in Fedor’s career, he fell victim to stoppage losses against Fabricio Werdum, Dan Henderson and Antonio Silva, all of whom fight for the UFC now. One point that has never been raised is that Hendo and “Bigfoot” were likely flying high on a wave of TRT at the time, but all that is behind us now.
Props to MMAFighting for the transcribe, and let me know your thoughts on Fedor’s comments.