The dreams of many longtime MMA fans were blown to smithereens last weekend (Sat., September 19, 2015) when it was announced at Bellator 142: Dynamite 1 that revered former heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko was returning to fight an unknown opponent in an unknown promotion kick started by Pride FC founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara.

That quashed any potential of Fedor signing with the UFC and finally taking on the best fighters in the world, an unfortunate trend that Emelianenko did exhibit during the later years of his career.

His critics might have you believe that Fedor simply wants the biggest payday for the least amount of work, and according to a recent report from Dave Meltzer’s F4W Online (via MMA Mania), he’s going to get just that:

“Japanese news sources have reported the show being held at the Saitama Super Arena, which makes sense. They’ve also reported that Emelianenko will earn $2.5 million guaranteed for the show, which tells you why he didn’t sign the UFC, since it’s guaranteed and most likely he’ll face a lesser opponent than he would in UFC.

“UFC had been negotiating with him and it did seem they were close. UFC sources said they were under the impression Emelianenko signed a two-fight deal with Sakakibara’s group. It is believed the show is being financed by an oil-rich foreign investor who already has a stake in the MMA business. Whether he’s agreed to invest for one show, or a regular promotion, is unknown.”

So it sounds like Fedor was tantalizingly close to signing with the UFC as was rumored, but yet again that is only a pipe dream that appears to have slipped away, at least for the time being. The UFC expects Fedor to have a two-fight deal with Sakakibara’s promotion, and it’s also unknown whether or not the promotion will be a lasting one.

Emelianenko is set to get paid in Japan this New Year’s Eve, but you’d have to think that Dana White and the UFC were willing to pay him that much, if not more, to make his octagon debut once and for all.

Maybe ‘The Last Emperor’ believed his first UFC bout would be his last. Fedor is no doubt one of the best fighters to ever compete, but at this point, you’d have to start wondering if his return is all about the Benjamins rather than the actual competition.