Could mixed martial arts legend Fedor Emelianenko finally be heading to the UFC? Well, according to the legend himself, it could happen at some point this year.
On Monday, Fedor appeared on Ariel Helwani’s Mixed-Martial-ArtsHour, and he revealed that not only are he and the UFC in negotiations, but he also revealed that he’s closer than ever to signing with the world’s number one MMA organization.
Fedor is set to fight UFC veteran Fabio Maldonado at EFN 50 on Friday night, and the fight will be shown on UFC Fight Pass. After the fight, Fedor will officially be a free agent, and he’s suggesting that his next fight could be in the UFC’s Octagon.
“Yes. In a word, yes. That possibility [of fighting in the UFC] does exist. I always wanted to fight for UFC and I would fight for UFC, but at this moment we’re looking at the deal and the deal has to satisfy both parties — them and my organization.”
“Right now, I’m much closer [to signing with the UFC] compared to when I just came back to MMA. Yes, we did receive an offer. But there are some finer points that we wanted to discuss.”
The UFC did make Fedor an offer last year when he announced that he was coming back to mixed martial arts after a two-and-a-half year hiatus. But, “The Last Emperor” ultimately decided to decline the UFC’s offer.
Prior to that, UFC President Dana White claims that he was close to getting Fedor to sign with the organization to fight Brock Lesnar at AT&T Stadium in 2012. At the time, Lesnar was under contract to WWE, but he had a clause in his contract that would allow him to return to the UFC for a fight with Fedor. The fight nearly happened, but Fedor’s father ended up passing away, which forced the MMA legend to pull out of the bout.
Lesnar will be making his return to the UFC on July 9 at UFC 200, and if he ends up defeating his opponent, Mark Hunt, then WWE may allow him to have another bout, so, if all goes well for both Lesnar and Fedor in their upcoming bouts, we may finally see the long-awaited dream bout at some point this year.
Fedor ended his Strikeforce career with three straight losses, but he followed up that losing streak by winning three straight fights in Japan and Russia. He then retired in 2012 and made his MMA comeback against Jaideep Singh last December.
If Fedor gets past Maldonado on Friday night, his winning streak will be extended to five.
“The Last Emperor” has often been criticized for not signing with the UFC in the past, and some believe that his legacy will be tarnished if he never steps inside the Octagon. But, if he does, and he ends up winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship at some point, then he may end up being considered as the greatest heavyweight fighter in the history of mixed martial arts.
There’s a chance that Bellator MMA will make a run at getting Fedor, as they badly need depth in their heavyweight division. Also, Bellator is in the business of acquiring big names, and not necessarily the best fighters in the world, so if they feel like Fedor will be a big draw for them, then they’ll probably make him an offer that would be hard for him to refuse.
Fedor will definitely be a needle-mover, regardless of where he ends up. But, there’s no question that MMA fans will be disappointed if he doesn’t end up signing with the UFC at some point this year.
[Image via Jeff Chiu/AP Images]