Fedor Emelianenko and the Current Value of the M-1 Bargaining Chip

Brandon HinchmanCorrespondent ISeptember 13, 2010

Despite a lot of controversy surrounding Fedor Emelianenko's alleged reign over MMA, at one time, people could pretty much agree that he was easily the most marketable MMA fighter on the planet.

During the M-1 Global and UFC negotiations, for instance, M-1 candidly stated that a multimillion dollar payout (and possibly earning more money than any UFC fighter ever), while fighting in the UFC and wearing the M-1 logo on Emelianenko's shorts wasn't enough without 50 percent of the shares after Emelianenko's draw.

As M-1 executive Jerry Millen once stated, "Fedor doesn't have to sign his soul away, number one, because he's at the top of the game, and he's doing very well without signing with the UFC."

Yet they paradoxically (or hypocritically) decided that they would be more than willing to sucker the world's biggest MMA organization like it was a kid's lemonade stand and not a legitimate business. Thankfully, Dana White didn't take the bait.

Then Emelianenko fought Fabricio Werdum. One minute and nine seconds later, everything changed.

Since his loss, Emelianenko has gone from immediately wanting a rematch in Russia to having to settle for someone else while Werdum heals to "calling out" Alistair Overeem to settling for whatever possibilities Strikeforce can offer, which is completely up in the air at this time.

Now there is a question regarding Emelianenko's market value.

Truthfully, who wouldn't want to watch Emelianenko face Werdum to make sure the fight wasn't a fluke? The marketability is still there because Emelianenko will always draw a crowd, but the real negative effect hit Emelianenko's credibility.

There will always be mystique surrounding Emelianenko's record, but the truth is that without participating in the UFC, his reign, at best, is questionable. That's not to say he's not the best; only that whether he's the best is uncertain because it hasn't been tested.

As for Emelianenko's marketability, it isn't as strong. Even weaker is his credibility for being unbeatable, as his performance against Werdum did, indeed, prove he is not invulnerable. And if you caught his fight with Ricardo Arona, you already knew this.

Emelianenko may indeed be the best in the world, but unless he's tested in the UFC, this uncertainty will go to the MMA graveyard with a tombstone marked UNKNOWN.

One thing is for certain, though: the only way for Emelianenko to gain back any credibility he lost to Werdum is to decisively defeat Werdum as well as decisively beat Brock Lesnar and possibly the other top three UFC heavyweights, Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, and Shane Carwin.

On the other hand, being that Emelianenko so quickly lost to Werdum and demonstrated fighter mortality, a loss to Lesnar wouldn't mean as much now as it would have had he gone in with his pre-Werdum record. Here's hoping that M-1 and Emelianenko will be willing to give the fans what they want on reasonable turf in the near future.