Commentary

Emelianenko ready to move on to M-1

Does he want to fight Randy Couture? Is his heart still in fighting? And why didn't he join the UFC? Ryan Hockensmith sat down with Fedor Emelianenko and asked the questions everyone wants answers to.

Originally Published: October 22, 2007
By Ryan Hockensmith | ESPN The Magazine

Fedor Emlianenko wanted to fight in the UFC. He wanted to fight Randy Couture. He wanted to come to America and prove his pound-for-pound worth. And, one day, he may get his chance to prove he's the world's best, as most believe.

It just won't be in the UFC, and it won't be against Couture.

In a one-on-one interview this afternoon, Emilianenko and his representatives placed the blame for a UFC deal falling through on the UFC. Emelianenko confirmed, as White has said, that he never once spoke directly with White.

Emelianenko's manager, Vadim Finkelchtein shot down the rumor that his side demanded Emelianenko's signing be packaged with a slew of Red Devil fighters.

"It was something we initially asked about but it was not a requirement," Emelianenko said.

Finkelchtein went on to blame the UFC's negotiating team, which he believes did a poor job communicating with White.

"White had no idea what was going on between Emelianenko and our attorney," he said. "Afterwards, we spoke with White and we realized that he wasn't familiar with a lot of the terms in the negotiations."

Emelianenko spent the day in New York City announcing his new plans to fight in startup organization M-1 Global.

M-1 president Monte Cox admitted he's investing heavily on Emelianenko.

"He's the biggest name fighter in the world," he says. "It [would be] a big deal if he fights somebody in a phone booth."

M-1 wants to put Emelianenko in the ring in February at a site in the U.S. still to be determined.

Cox mentioned Ben Rothwell, Josh Barnett and Jeff Monson as potential opponents. He stressed the fact that Emelianenko wants only big-named fights.

M-1 Global are unsure whether Emelianenko will be fighting on pay-per-view and mentioned HBO, Showtime and HDNet as potential homes for M-1.

Regardless of where he lands, Emelianenko expressed his pleasure in signing with M-1and has put the UFC behind him and is confident the best fights of his career are ahead.

"With M-1, I can move forward and have the best opportunity to fight the best," he says. "I'm aware that a lot of fighters want to fight me, and I'm not nervous at all."

Ryan Hockensmith is an associate editor at ESPN The Magazine.