Sources: Fedor-UFC talks 'intense' but will likely drag past Friday
The chief operating officer of Fedor Emelianenko's promotional company, M-1 Global, confirmed to The Times in an e-mail early this morning that the heavyweight, considered the world's best mixed martial arts fighter, is engaged in "intense negotiations with the UFC."
Joost Raimond told The Times that contract talks "are ongoing, but we have not reached any kind of agreement at this time."
On Tuesday, another source close to Emelianenko's camp told The Times it made sense that the "very civil" talks between Emelianenko, his people and the UFC would be the subject of a news conference call the UFC has scheduled for Friday. A UFC official did not dismiss the suggestion that the two events were linked.
However, the original source told The Times today it would now be surprising for UFC and Fedor to have a deal signed by Friday. The source requested anonymity because authorization hasn't been given to speak publicly on the issue.
The sides have been separated in the past by issues including the number of fights in the contract (the UFC wants six) and they have to address Emelianenko's business connection to M-1. No deal-breaking event has happened since yesterday, the source said, but negotiations are complex and will likely require "more than 48 hours."
A UFC spokeswoman said Tuesday that the special Friday news conference would "not be [UFC President] Dana [White] talking about UFC 101," scheduled for next month in Philadelphia, but she provided no more information about the subject of the call.
The Times' attempts to reach White and company owner Lorenzo Fertitta since Tuesday have been unsuccessful.
The Sun website in England is reporting that the UFC is planning to announce a venture that will allow ESPN to broadcast UFC events in England.
The UFC is also reportedly mulling how to handle the contracts of other fighters who were part of Affliction Entertainment, which canceled its Saturday show starring Emelianenko (30-1) at Anaheim's Honda Center after his scheduled opponent, Josh Barnett, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Emelianenko is scheduled to conduct a news conference today in Anaheim to discuss his post-Affliction plans, M-1 has announced. He has long maintained that he wants to fight the best possible opponent, and the UFC offers that person in its heavyweight champ, Brock Lesnar.
But Emelianenko could leave the U.S. as early as today, the source said.
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Mixed-martial-arts fighter Fedor Emelianenko. Credit: Emmanuel Dunand / Associated Foreign Press/Getty Images