During recent interviews, UFC president Dana White has commented that he expects to have Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko under contract by the end of 2007 or the start of 2008.
However, in a recent interview with Sherdog.com, Fedor’s manager, Vadim Finkelstein, makes it sound as though Fedor in the UFC is far from a sure deal:
Sherdog.com: As Fedor’s manager, can you please fill us in on the current state of his contract negotiations.
VF: At the moment we are in negotiations with a number of organizations who have put offers on the table. I’ll be blunt in saying that the UFC offer is the most financially attractive one. However they are very harsh in their terms and are not very flexible in actually negotiating them.
Fedor has now been the PRIDE heavyweight champion for four years and I think we have earned the right to negotiate a contract that suits both parties. Instead we are faced with a blunt “you are either in or you’re out.” This does not really suit us. If the negotiations continue in a similar manner, we’ll prefer to fight for less money but with an organization which is more flexible.
The problem is that Fedor is the face of Combat Sambo in Russia. His popularity is at a level where he is acquainted with president Putin himself, in part because he is so successful and well known for Combat Sambo here.
Combat Sambo is a Russian sport that’s not at a level of difficulty of MMA, but is hugely popular with our public. Fedor must represent Russia in Combat Sambo and at world championships, specifically the ones coming up in September. All we want him to do is compete something like once a year in Combat Sambo. But the UFC is not happy with that.
Their proposal has all kinds of clauses, all kinds of fines etc. that do not suit us. The UFC is not really that eager to communicate and negotiate. The negotiations are still continuing, and we will try very hard to get our demands met, if not Fedor will simply not compete in the UFC, even though that will be unfortunate as they currently have one of the, if not the, strongest, heavyweight divisions in the world.
There’s a whole lot more so you should really check out the Sherdog.com interview by clicking here.