Commentary

Octagon door still open for Fedor

Updated: August 9, 2009, 11:42 PM ET
By Franklin McNeil | Special to ESPN.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Top-rated heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko recently rejected the UFC in favor of Strikeforce, where he will begin fulfilling a three-fight deal later this year. Though Emelianenko took his skills elsewhere, the UFC remains open to having him come aboard.

UFC president Dana White told ESPN.com that the offer made to Emelianenko remains in effect. However, White added a wrinkle.

"The offer stands, but only if he remains undefeated," White said Friday after the UFC 101 weigh-in. "If he loses a fight in Strikeforce, then the offer is gone.

"He is no good to us if he loses. Considering the names of opponents being tossed around, it is unlikely he will lose."

With Emelianenko a UFC non-issue for at least a year, White has turned his attention back to determining UFC heavyweight titleholder Brock Lesnar's next opponent. It is commonly held that Lesnar will defend against the Shane Carwin-Cain Velasquez winner -- they are scheduled to meet in October at UFC 104.

White, however, put the brakes on that notion. He admits a strong case can be made for the Carwin-Velasquez winner, but White won't rule out the Randy Couture-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira winner getting the nod.

"A lot depends on how the Couture-Nogueira winner looks in that fight," White said. "If the Couture-Nogueira winner is dominant, then it is very possible he will face Lesnar next."

Couture and Nogueira meet Aug. 29 at UFC 102 in Portland, Ore. Each fighter is looking to get back in the win column.

In his most recent fight, Nov. 15, 2008, at UFC 91, Couture (16-9-0) was stopped in the second round by Lesnar. Couture lost his heavyweight belt in that fight.

Nogueira (31-5-1) was surprised by Frank Mir at UFC 92 in December 2008. Before the loss, in which he was thoroughly outboxed, Nogueira had won three in a row.

Franklin McNeil is an analyst on ESPN.com's "MMA Live."