A long-awaited agreement between the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the man considered the world’s best mixed martial arts fighter, Fedor Emelianenko, is expected to be announced by UFC President Dana White on Friday, a source with information about the negotiations told The Times today.
The source, who asked not to be identified because he’s not authorized to speak publicly about the dealings, called negotiations between the UFC and Fedor “very civil” just days after Fedor’s scheduled Affliction Trilogy fight Saturday against Josh Barnett was canceled.
The source, who is not affiliated with the UFC, said officials were discussing details on the public announcement of the deal, which in the past has been complicated by Emelianenko’s resistance to accept UFC’s standard six-fight contract and his unwillingness to surrender some merchandising and marketing revenues.
Holy crap, sounds like the greatest news ever, doesn’t it? It even comes from a credible outlet. Whether or not it’s actually true though is a different question entirely. We heard similar rumors the last time Fedor was a free agent and those didn’t pan out. M-1 didn’t seem too willing the other day to concede any of their demands despite the fact that they’re running out of options. Plus, as MDS points out, if they’re really coming to an agreement why would they have scheduled different press conferences on different days this week? I don’t know, but hopefully Fedor will clue us in on what’s going on at his press conference tomorrow.
Update: Josh Gross brings us back down to Earth, at least for now.
Denying a published report Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times, M-1 Global officials told SI.com that Fedor Emelianenko and the Ultimate Fighting Championship are not close to finalizing a deal that would bring mixed martial arts’ top heavyweight in the Octagon.
“I can give you a guarantee it’s not accurate,” said Apy Echteld of M-1 Global, a St. Petersburg, Russia-based promotion and management company of which Emelianenko is an equity stakeholder.
Echteld declined to comment on negotiations between M-1 Global and the UFC, which are rumored to be taking place Tuesday in Los Angeles. He pointed to a press conference Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif., for “important” news on Emelianenko’s fate.
I suppose you could say M-1 has to deny it if it’s true, but that is a pretty strong denial.
Update 2: MMAJunkie’s M-1 source is also saying the report’s “untrue.” Funny enough, the LA Times report their source is not affiliated with the UFC, so they would probably be from Fedor’s camp, wouldn’t they?
Update 3: Lance Pugmire, the LA Times reporter who wrote the story referenced above, posted this on Twitter this morning.
Second source close to Fedor Emelianenko confirms “intense negotiations” between fighter and UFC, declines to say it’ll be done by friday.
That’s a bit of a step back from his other source who said they were finalizing the deal. Definitely sounds like they’re trying to work out a deal, just a question of if it gets done.
By the way, an M-1 source also told MMA Fanhouse the initial report wasn’t true.
“It’s more than premature — it is based on no fact whatsoever.”
Update 4: The LA Times now has an update posted on their website. M-1 CEO Joost Raimond told Pugmire that they were engaged in “intense negotiations with the UFC,” and that the talks “are ongoing, but they have not reached an agreement.”
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.
M-1 and Fedor also held their press conference this afternoon (recap here), but all that could be really taken away from it was they’re still fall apart and M-1 isn’t backing off their demands. Hopefully there’s more favorable news going on behind the scenes.
Update 5: Ok, this sounds more promising. The UFC (sort of) has finally commented on the story. Via MMA Junkie:
(UPDATE, 3:30 p.m. ET on 7/29/09: A source close to the UFC makes the prospects of Emelianenko fighting in the UFC sound much more promising. The source said UFC officials have devoted much of their resources to working on a deal to sign the fighter in time for an official announcement during Friday’s media call, as the L.A. Times initially reported. Sources close to M-1, though, continue to state such a deal is “unlikely.”)
This came before the press conference though so take from it what you will.
Update 6: Coming from Dave Meltzer, this news isn’t good.
–The only thing we can say on the subject is that two different sources have told us negotiations between UFC and Fedor have fallen through again.