UFC president Dana White still wants Fedor Emelianenko to fight in the Octagon. The thing is, he doesn't believe that Fedor, or at least his handlers, really have a strong interest in the Russian crusher coming to the UFC. Then again, he's not really sure what Fedor and his management wants.
"I want Fedor too, contrary to popular belief," he reiterated recently. In White's mind, it's just a matter of not being able to negotiate with Fedor's camp.
"I have no idea what they want. Everything makes no sense to me. I think they thought, 'You know, we'll partner up with these guys and we'll own a piece of this thing.' It's all mixed signals. You never know what these guys want," he stated, amused frustration in his tone.
"When I first met with these guys, (Fedor's) manager is like, 'Here's what we want to do. My brother is the biggest rock concert promoter over there. So here's what we want. We want you to build an arena in Russia,'" recounted White. "And I'm like, '(Expletive) timeout.' I want to sign a guy. I'm not looking to build arenas or get into business with you or anything like that. We'll pay him what he wants to be paid. We'll promote and do this and that. But it's not about Fedor when you talk to these guys."
Having built the UFC on the back of strong personal relationships in the fight game when there wasn't all that much money, if any, to throw around, the UFC President hasn't even met the No. 1 heavyweight in the world. "I've never met Fedor! I've never said one (expletive) word to the guy. I've never even seen him face to face."
The Fedor situation has strung out ever since Zuffa (the UFC's parent company) acquired Pride in spring of 2007. When the promotion was finally shuttered due to difficulties in trying to operate in Japan and several fighter contracts were either deemed non-transferrable or nonexistent, the UFC began signing fighters to new contracts. Fedor has been one of the only fighters to elude the MMA juggernaught.
At this point, it doesn't appear the UFC will ever be able to snare his services. White can only throw up his hands in frustration and move on.
"I don't know what they want... Fedor's one of these guys that, listen, everybody thinks that I won't give Fedor his props and everything. B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva and every other guy in this company fight the best of the best three times a year. Fedor's not doing that. If he wants to fight guys three times a year, prove he's the best, if he wants to do that, I'm willing to do it with him," says White.
"I don't think he cares about a legacy or any of that kind of stuff," he continued. "I don't know. I'd like to see him fight in the UFC."