While many mixed martial arts fans would have liked to have seen former Pride champion Fedor Emelianenko fight in the UFC’s Octagon, it doesn’t appear likely it will ever happen. “The Last Emperor” would like to finish his career in the Bellator cage.
Though Fedor had retired following a fight with Pedro Rizzo in 2012, he returned three years later. Having won back-to-back bouts during his recent comeback, Fedor recently embarked on a return to fighting in the United States, inking a multi-fight deal with Bellator.
As always, there had been rumors that the Octagon was imminent. According to Fedor, the UFC was a realistic candidate for his services, but in the end, he opted to go with Bellator, rekindling his relationship with company president Scott Coker, whom Fedor had fought for under the Strikeforce banner.
“We had made great relations with Scott Coker,” Fedor said during a Monday appearance on The MMA Hour. “I received a very good offer from Bellator. In addition, Bellator invited my entire team. So all of the guys will be performing as well.”
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Fedor admits that there were also negotiations with the UFC, but it doesn’t appear that the promotion was willing to agree to the terms he wanted. Namely, he wanted to provide opportunities for other fighters on his team.
As in past negotiations with MMA’s juggernaut, the UFC was once again a near miss, getting down to the wire before stalling out.
“A lot of time you can be close, but then go around and around and never get to it. That’s what happened. There were some things that were not satisfactory for UFC, there were some things that were not satisfactory for me, and we never came to an agreement,” said Fedor.
“One of the main reasons was the ability to have my teammates to perform and the others were financial reasons, as well as some smaller things.”
Neither Fedor nor Bellator has revealed details of his contract, but it doesn’t appear that he intends to fight much longer. He is slated to meet former UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione in the main event of Saturday’s Bellator 172 in San Jose, Calif.
A short Bellator tenure wouldn’t be much of a surprise considering that Fedor has retired once already and will turn 41 years of age later this year. On Monday, he said that he intends to end his career with his current contract.
“I would like to end my career with Bellator. I would like to work in accordance with my contract,” he said. “Relations with people is of great importance with me. I value highly the relations with myself and Scott. So I do want to end my career with Bellator.”
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