While M-1 Global continues to publicly insist they’ve had absolutely zero contact with the UFC regarding Fedor Emelianenko while they’ve been re-negotiating with Strikeforce, Dana White won’t stop hinting otherwise. In fact, he just told Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole he’s talked to them “more recently than you would think.”
Emelianenko, the top-ranked fighter not in the UFC, “has become my obsession now. I want it worse than the fans want it.” He said he spoke with Emelianenko’s management about a UFC contract “more recently than you would think.” He was coy when asked about Emelianenko’s contract with Strikeforce and CBS, saying only: “I would never interfere with someone else’s contract.”
Considering how many times a deal with the UFC and Fedor has fallen through (okay, technically twice but you know what I mean), I’ve taken this as Dana playing games with the media more than anything else. However, Kevin Iole seems to think otherwise. As he tells Steve Cofield in their discussion above, he’s suddenly seeing “more light at the end of the tunnel” for a Fedor-UFC deal than ever before. Iole seems to think the co-promotion demands aren’t as prominent anymore. Could that be because their co-promotion with Strikeforce didn’t make them any money? Are they discovering Fedor would net them more in the UFC? I don’t know, we’ll see, but I’m still in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” camp.
Update 2: MMA Fighting has video of the conversation with Dana that Kevin Iole is referencing.
Update 3: I don’t know if this is actually the case or not, but the vibe I’m getting from this LA Times article is tensions are building between Strikeforce and M-1. Scott Coker called the whole situation a “holdout.” M-1 didn’t quite agree, but they made it clear the relationship will not continue if they don’t get this worked out.
Coker said plainly that Fedor “has two more fights with us. M-1 [his promotional company] wanted to make some changes after our first fight together. There’s an ongoing dialog. They’d like to change the terms of our agreement.”
Added Bash: “I don’t think it should be called a holdout. There’s a couple things that need to be worked out. You try to fix whatever you can after the first time. I can’t say whether it will get fixed or not, but I’m optimistic.”
Bash said he hopes the situation is resolved “fairly soon if he’s going to fight. Everything needs to be worked out for the relationship to continue.”
I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I sense Strikeforce isn’t going to let Fedor go without a fight. Let’s hope they work this out and it doesn’t turn into a legal battle.