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The UFC's Big Choice: Fedor Emelianenko

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Robert Joyner has a piece up over at MMA Payout over the increasingly dim prospects for a Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko fight outside of the UFC:

News on the Randy front also seems to indicate that the odds of this fight happening outside the UFC aren’t good. Sherdog detailed the most recent legal wrangling between Couture and Zuffa, with Friday’s decision for all intents and purposes throwing the legal fight back to Las Vegas and current attempts at arbitration between Couture and the UFC. With the battle being switched over to a Las Vegas venue, the scales are titling away from Randy being free and clear to pursue the Fedor fight outside of the UFC.

The negotiation process for a possible UFC match-up of Randy vs Fedor would be an interesting one. Does the UFC forgo their policy of exclusive contracts in order to bring in Fedor for a one off fight? Randy has two fights left on his contract, but also has a pending deal with Mark Cuban and his HDNet Fights group. Is a bird in the hand (Fedor vs Randy negotiated as the last fight on Randy’s contract) worth two in the bush (having him under contract for two fights they may never get)?

Robert linked a recent interview with Vadim Finkelstein, who indicated a willingness to negotiate a deal to do the fight in the UFC:

I can tell you that if UFC will negotiate with us then this fight can happen this year maybe within the bounds of our joint tournament with UFC. We are ready to negotiate, the fighters are ready, everything is ready, the only deal is with UFC policy headed on their separation and singularity.

I don't think getting Randy to commit to staying with the UFC in exchange for getting this fight would be hard.  The tough part is the demands Fedor's people made in the past in exchange for exclusivity:  UFC events in Russia, the signing of Fedor's whole team, the elimination of the UFC's right to cut him if he loses, Sambo, and extensive control for Fedor over who he fights.  I think that reasonable minds could come to an agreement on all of these things, but nobody said we're dealing with reasonable people here.  I think locking Fedor down and making this fight would be a great business move for the UFC, and not just because it would do so well on PPV.  By locking down Fedor, they'd effectivelty kill WAMMA and make sure that no other promotion can claim to have the best heavyweight in the world.