The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Fedor

Brendan gave his reasoned take below, so allow me to provide the “speculative knee-jerk reaction from a fan” route – Fedor Emelianenko did not sign with UFC because the man is scared that his legacy would be tarnished in doing so. That’s my honest belief, and I’d be quite surprised if it were not the case.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there is surely no shortage of shady business when M-1 is involved. One definitely has to allow for the possibility that in a back room somewhere, Boris the Bullet-Dodger’s evil machinations have gotten into the fighter’s head. I mean, how often does a professional athlete turn down a rumored $5M per performance in exchange for a rumored $1M per performance without some kind of external factor? I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say that Fedor doesn’t hate money – even Brock “lives in a cabin in the woods” Lesnar is comfortable denigrating a major-league UFC sponsor because he hadn’t been paid directly. It’s also not like this is a hometown discount to develop MMA in the mother country or anything, either.

To me, there’s two possibilities here. One option is that M-1 has some kind of hold on him to where his wishes are irrelevant to the proceedings – as many such as Dave Meltzer have already said, the UFC deal would have gotten done in any normal situation where the fighter wanted to ply his trade there. If Fedor has any kind of fighting spirit whatsoever, he will see Lesnar (and Randy Couture…and possibly Shane Carwin) as the wall that stands between him and eternal glory as the unquestioned Best There Is, Best There Was, Best There Ever Will Be. If that is the case, then unless the UFC side is grossly overstating the amount of money and other concessions (time off to go fight in sambo competitions and so on) they had on the table, then the only reason Fedor turns down that contract us because M-1’s interests are the only ones that matter. And, with their batshit insistence on the 50% split of all revenue that comes from shows with their cash cow on it, no UFC deal will ever happen if that’s the case. Even if Fedor annhiliates the mediocre opponents that Strikeforce puts in front of him in devastating fashion, he won’t be that much more of a commodity than he is right now (and he’ll be another older on top of it).

On the other hand, perhaps Fedor sees Lesnar and Couture as too high of a wall…too much of  a risk and a threat to his aura of invincibility. If we’re being honest, Fedor should beat Couture, and he’s at this stage a slight favorite over Lesnar (though I have a hard time betting against Lesnar when faced with anyone not carrying automatic weapons). On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like Fedor has all that much to be nervous about. Then again, he strikes me as a fairly savvy individual – he surely knows that all it takes in any fighting discipline is one good strike for a lesser fighter to defeat a favorite. You look at someone like Carwin, and even the Fedor True Believers would have to admit that on his day, Carwin can hit that one magical punch that sends Fedor back into the realm of normal humans. Then you look at Lesnar, who right now is the 800-pound gorilla of MMA, and anyone with a working cerebral cortex can posit that Brock has a worryingly-for-Fedor-high chance of winning that fight. Not only that, but Lesnar is capable of winning in such dominating fashion that it ruins Fedor permanently (or at least severely damages him) as a saleable commodity in the United States.

Personally, as fun to speculate as it is about James Bond villains in the background spinning a web of intrigue, I lean towards the assumption that Fedor just made a career-threatening PR gaffe in a misguided attempt at protecting his image. The first shoots of the Fedor backlash are beginning, and for the more casual fans of the sport (who let’s not forget are a much greater number than the Sherdog message board types), Dana White’s word is gospel. If they read an article or see a video blog where he’s calling out this guy as a coward and a fraud, those fans who are unaware of his wins over Mirko Cro Cop (in his prime) or Nogueira will have no reason to disagree. And, what percentage of those people are big enough fans of the sport where they’re going to watch this supposed cowardly fraud fight what they feel are no-names (not entirely wrong) in the off-brand promotion? Even if Fedor rips out someone’s spine like Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat, it’ll be crickets as far as the casual MMA fan is concerned.

Either way, it’s a damn shame. When they have the option, the UFC (as mentioned before on this blog) has done a fantastic job of delivering on the fights that the public wants to see – but in this case, M-1 is doing their best to make this a boxing-style negotiation. Mark my words – this will be the biggest mistake that Fedor and M-1 could have ever made.

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August 4, 2009 - Posted by | MMA

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