Fedor Emelianenko camp wants one-fight deal vs. top UFC heavyweight
Fedor Emelianenko (above right) stopped by Hollywood on Thursday to promote his Aug. 1 fight at Anaheim's Honda Center against Seattle's Josh Barnett (above left) in the third -- and perhaps final --Affliction show, titled Trilogy.
Emelianenko, widely considered the world's top mixed-martial arts heavyweight fighter, is seeking his third consecutive victory in Anaheim over a former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champ after previously disposing of Tim Sylvia (rear naked chokehold) and Andrei Arlovski (knockout) less than one minute into the first round.
The intrigue with the Barnett bout is that it's Emelianenko's final fight in his contract with Seal Beach-based Affliction, and company Vice President Tom Atencio was very noncommittal about the clothing firm's future in the fight game.
"We'll take one fight at a time," Atencio said.
Meanwhile, Joost Raimond, the operations manager of Emelianenko's global promotion company M-1, invited the winner of the July 11 UFC heavyweight championship fight between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir to attend the Emelianenko-Barnett bout, and pushed for the UFC to allow Emelianenko to fight that man as part of a one-fight contract on a card that could be fully promoted by UFC.
That's not the way the UFC operates, however.
"The fans can come out and push for this, and make it happen," Raimond said.
In my video interview with Fedor, he said the UFC needs to treat its fighters "like a human being," with Raimond urging the organization to make an exception to its typical contractual demands.
"They want the fighter's mind, soul, body, heritage and his two cats and dog if they can get it," Raimond said. "Let's not do this with Fedor. Let's try to figure out how to do this, because Fedor is willing to fight anyone, anytime, anywhere. We have an exceptional fighter here. People are saying, 'Let's see him fight the best.' "
UFC President Dana White said he has "never, ever talked to Fedor."
Certainly, a free-agent Fedor should prompt the UFC to attempt to strike a deal. MMA fans are smart enough to see how Fedor has crushed his recent foes, and understand he's superior to the UFC's top heavyweights.
What if UFC comes with a substantial cash offer, superior to the one it extended to Fedor in 2007?
"We'll look at it," Raimond said. "Under the present [contractual] conditions, nothing will be considered for any amount of money. That last contract they offered us doesn't work out."
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo credit: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty Images