UFC's Fertitta addresses Fedor
Ultimate Fighting Championship principal owner Lorenzo Fertitta is ready to deliver his state of the UFC talk today, a moment that allows him to bask in the mainstream attention given to tonight's UFC 100 card.
But the sport's most devout followers still wonder why a giant named Fedor Emelianenko (above right) is not part of UFC.
Emelianenko has a pay-per-view fight scheduled next month in Anaheim for an Orange County shirt company, Affliction. The quiet Russian heavyweight told me recently he doesn't want to commit to a six-fight contract to join UFC.
Fertitta explained to me in a rare interview a few weeks ago why he's seeking a six-fight arrangement with Emelianenko.
"Right now, Fedor's completely irrelevant to the public," Fertitta said. "His pay-per-view numbers have been 12,000, 30,000, and now Affliction is saying he'll get 100,000 [against Josh Barnett]. I'll take the under-70,000. We average 500,000 buys and we expect 1 million for this one.
"Fedor wants to use UFC for a fight to be relevant, and then leave and do his own thing. That's not our business model."
Fertitta explained it takes a few fights to build name recognition in his sport, which still craves mainstream attention. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson had an audience among MMA hard-core fans when he joined the organization, but few others really cared.
"We spend more money for marketing than anyone has ever spent on Fedor," Fertitta said. "If I bring in Fedor, we'll make him the most recognizable face in MMA, but we also want to recoup on our investment. You wouldn't sign Tom Brady for one game. So why do I want to sign this guy for one fight?"
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Fedor Emelianenko, right, poses with opponent Josh Barnett during a news conference for their mixed martial arts bout scheduled for Aug. 1 in Anaheim. Credit: Emmanuel Dunand / Getty Images