On July 24th, 2009, Affliction Entertainment ceased all promotional operations and dumped its roster of fighters to focus on clothing and to return to the UFC sponsor list. The following roster dump has led to the biggest shift in the MMA landscape since the purchase and subsequent dismantling of the former UFC rival organization PRIDE. Although, the UFC missed out on the one signing they have been pressured to make by media and fans everywhere.
As free agent after free agent were gobbled up, the highest profile of the bunch, Fedor Emelianenko, was standing firm to a co-promotional clause which led to intense negotiations with all parties involved. The UFC was the front runner with the highest paying contract and the most competitive heavyweight division in MMA, however refused to allow the Russian stand-out’s management team, and struggling MMA organization M-1 Global, to co-promote the event. This left few options for Emelianenko, but after negotiations with Strikeforce and one stroke of the pen, Scott Coker laid claim to the biggest free agent in MMA history.
Dana White may have seen the tables turn on him, as he acquired the services of many former Affliction fighters while Coker was on vacation in Italy. After seeing all the names going to the UFC, Coker returned home and to the negotiating table to begin talks with anyone left unsigned, which included Fedor. The tables turned when Dana White left for Abu Dhabi, and he had to find out that the door had finally been closed on the possibility of Fedor in the octagon, and for less money.
As much as White wanted and tried for the services of the undefeated heavyweight, he was unable to get the job done, leaving him with a bad taste in his mouth. White has since made a statement to Cagewriter.com regarding the deal and has left no question as to how he feels, “I’m in Abu Dhabi right now and my reaction is Fedor is a [expletive] joke,” White exclaimed angrily. “[He] turns down a huge deal and the opportunity to face the best in the world to fight nobodies, for no money. Fedor is a [expletive]!”
The UFC boasts a heavyweight division that is widely regarded as the best in the world and the perfect proving grounds for Emelianenko. Since the recent years of his career have been plagued by criticisms of his opponents and being inactive for long periods between fights, some feel he is plummeting in value and respect among fans and peers.
Dana White seems to have the same opinion as evidence by follow-up statements made to Cagewriter via text message, “I feel sorry for the real fans! I wanted to make the deal but it takes two and it is VERY obvious Fedor doesn’t want to fight the best and doesn’t give a [expletive] about the fans.”
White and UFC fans may have to wait until the expiration of Emelianenkos’ contract with his management M-1 Global, which expires in 3 fights, before they can even consider acquiring the services of Fedor free and clear of any conditions with M-1 Global.