Pride legend and possible greatest fighter of all time, Fedor Emelianenko is back, and it seems like the bidding war for his services has officially begun. Emelianenko's manager, Vadim Finkelstein, joined SB Nation's Submission Radio to discuss his client's return to the sport and possible landing spots.
When asked if Emelianenko was open to finally signing with the UFC, he stated that it was certainly possible. "Well I think UFC have a big chance to sign Fedor. It depends on what offer they will make," he said through his translator (h/t to Submission Radio's Denis Shkuratov for the transcription). "If Dana would not only talk, but do some things [and] will make a good offer to Fedor, they have a big chance then."
Needless to say, this is a wise move. In spite of his struggles in Strikeforce, Emelianenko remains one of the biggest names in MMA, and his return to the sport is guaranteed to be a massive event. The best way to capitalize on that, of course, is to play the UFC's and Bellator's contract offers off one another, driving up the asking price. Finkelstein also stated that whichever promotion winds up hosting Emelianenko will not be asked to co-promote the fight with M-1 Global, which was an irreconcilable point of contention between the UFC and the Russian's management team.
This is a familiar position for both Emelianenko and Finkelstein, who went back and forth at the bargaining table with the UFC in 2009 before eventually signing a deal with Strikeforce. This resulted in more than a few tirades from UFC President Dana White about both the fighter and the manager (Warning: NSFW language).
When asked if there was any bad blood over that, however, Finkelstein stated that things are as fine as they can be. "Dana talked a lot. [He] talked a lot about Fedor, about Vadim, and he talked bad. But Fedor understands that it all was just PR," he said. "He’s not in a bad relations with Dana and he doesn’t feel anything bad about him."
Whether that is true is hard to peg (Emelianenko has actually taken multiple shots at White over recent months), but Emelianenko wouldn't be the first fighter (Warning: NSFW language) to butt heads with White while still working alongside him.
These negotiations will likely wind up being one of 2015's biggest stories, and every major promotion around the world is likely to get in the running. Keep an eye on Bleacher Report over the coming weeks for more developments as they happen.