Will the UFC Try To Land Fedor Emelianenko?

Nate DoubleAnalyst IJuly 21, 2009

NEW YORK - JANUARY 20:  Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko, heavyweight mixed martial artist and current World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts heavyweight champion rings the NASDAQ opening bell at NASDAQ in Times Square on January 20, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)

As soon as the unified UFC Heavyweight belt was strapped around Brock Lesnar's waist, the questions began. 

Would the UFC try to land top heavyweight fighter Fedor Emelianenko?

While Dana White has softened his stance on Emelianenko by admitting that he wants to sign the excellent fighter, acquiring Emelianenko will not be easy.

Emelianenko, currently fighting and headlining events for Affliction MMA, is actually under contract with M-1 Global, which is a promoter based in Russia.

Emelianenko signed a two-year, six-fight contract with M-1 in October of 2007, and after his upcoming WAMMA Heavyweight title fight against Josh Barnett, he'll still have two fights remaining on his contract.

The biggest point of contention in the negotiations is that his manager, Vadim Finkelstein, wants the UFC to enter into an agreement with M-1 Global rather than with Emelianenko directly. 

Simply put, the UFC is not a co-promoter and has no interest in doing this.

The UFC doesn't need M-1 Global or its roster of fighters in order to put on pay-per-view events—its cash cow. 

However, in order to elevate the awareness of its fighters, including Emelianenko, M-1 Global could certainly use the UFC's exposure and marketing machine.

Furthermore, there is contention over Emelianenko's desire to participate in other martial arts while under a UFC contract. Historically, the UFC only allows its fighters to compete in The Octagon.

But, with a growing list of Olympians coming over to try their hand at MMA, the UFC might need to soften its stance if it hopes to attract these elite athletes to its roster.

While the UFC has often been criticized about it's hard-nosed tactics, restrictive contracts, and general fighter "bullying," it cannot afford to enter into a different type of contract with any fighter, even Emelianenko.

A contract between a third party and the UFC would set a precedent that it doesn't want. 

While it would drastically improve a fighter's leverage in negotiations, things like champion's clauses would go out the window, and belts could potentially be left on the shelf to collect dust as fighters jumped from promotion to promotion.

If the UFC can't sign Emelianenko directly, it will likely go back to what its done in the past, which is ignore him completely and downplay his past achievements. 

Just as the "Fedor" chants at UFC 100 failed to achieve anything, a single fighter's (or his management's) attemps to change the modus operandi of the UFC will fail, too.