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UFC will wait for Fedor

    Fri, 2008-09-05 09:38 — Bevois

    UFC Will Wait for Fedor

    by Loretta Hunt

    UFC President Dana White confidently laid out his organization’s plan to acquire the services of Fedor Emelianenko for a future matchup with recently returned heavyweight champion Randy Couture.

    The promotion will simply wait, he said during a conference call Tuesday.

    “Randy Couture’s going to fight November 15,” White said, as if referring to a predetermined timeline. “He’s going to fight Brock Lesnar in the biggest fight in UFC history. The rest of the heavyweight division will be figured out in December. I would be f—king horrified if Affliction is still in business by January. They’re going to burn a lot of cash in the next couple of months, believe me. Good luck to them and I’ll be sitting here waiting to see what happens.”

    Emelianenko, 31, is reported to have committed to an exclusive U.S. contract with Affliction Entertainment, an extraordinarily successful clothing company that branched into promoting events with “Banned” on July 19 in Anaheim, Calif., and will launch its second event on UFC turf on Oct. 11 in Las Vegas.

    It is unknown what commitment the vaunted Russian fighter has made to Affliction, though White seemed unfettered by that detail regardless.

    “These guys are dying on the vine,” said White of Affliction. “They’ll be gone in a couple of months anyway and then Fedor will have to come here. Listen, you’re not under contract if the company isn’t in business anymore. We’ll figure it out.”

    Affliction's Tom Atencio has little
    hope of landing a coveted bout
    between two of the sport's most
    respected heavyweights, Randy
    Couture and Fedor Emelianenko.

    It seems like White has good reason to be cocky. The bold UFC chief has led his promotion to phenomenal success in the U.S. since the January 2005 debut of “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike TV. Though a handful of potential challengers have risen to usurp the promotion’s grip on the industry, not one has been able to stake its claim for long.

    The International Fight League, which debuted in April 2006 and ran for 23 events, incurred a hefty $36 million debt before it closed its doors this summer. Pro Elite, a Los Angeles-based company that houses multiple promotions from EliteXC to King of the Cage to Icon Sport, is $55 million in the red with its shaky future hinging on a blowout ratings bonanza for its Oct. 4 event on CBS.

    Though Affliction’s sole offering was commended for its stellar cast of five top-10 heavyweights, the promotion had to pay through the nose to get it –- $3.3 million according to disclosed commission reports but rumored to be as high as $5-6 million behind the scenes. Affliction’s second event will carry a much lighter purse, but it will also lack the services of Emelianenko and a few other top-ranked draws as well.

    Now without the possibility of nabbing Couture -- who re-signed into a fresh three-fight deal with the UFC Tuesday –- Affliction, along with all the others, has little hope of landing a coveted bout between the two highly respected heavyweights. White clearly stated Tuesday he will make no concessions for a co-promotional effort, mainly because he knows he probably won’t ever have to.

    And Couture, who signed on the dotted line in good faith that the UFC will pursue a fight with Emelianenko with all of their resources, will now push his agenda from the inside.

    After all, Zuffa has what might be the biggest bargaining tool of all to lure Emelianenko into the Octagon once and for all –- “The Natural” himself.

    “I know he’s expressed interest in this fight,” Couture told reporters Tuesday, “but I think if people are to take him seriously and give him credit as the number-one heavyweight in the world, then he needs to come fight me. That makes sense to me.”

    UFC Will Wait for Fedor

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