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Fedor Emelianenko Released: UFC Dropped Ball With Timing of Announcement

Photos by Josh Hedges/Forza LLC/Forza LLC via Getty Images
Photos by Josh Hedges/Forza LLC/Forza LLC via Getty Images

We're shortly removed from the UFC 133 press conference and the story dominating the MMA landscape is the announcement that Fedor Emelianenko has been released (or at least not re-signed) by Strikeforce. In a year that has seen a drastic decline in average pay-per-view buys per event for the MMA juggernaut, the UFC allowed the focus of the media to shift away from Saturday night's show to the "Fedor is gone" story.

This is news that the UFC could have floated (or leaked) at any point earlier in the week. Instead, they waited until the Thursday before the event, at the press conference for the event to have the news hit. As of this writing, the top story on Google News if one were to search "UFC" is "Fedor Emelianenko cut by Zuffa LLC."

Letting Fedor go was a fine business move and it's hard to argue against it for any reason not cemented in sentimentality. But there's almost no chance that today was the day that Zuffa decided to let the Russian great go. Putting the story in the media bloodstream on Monday would have given it two days to be focused on and picked apart before a return to focusing on 133 became necessary and appealing. Instead mixed with the UFC 133 talk will be stories examining Fedor's time in Strikeforce, the motivations behind his release, debates over his retirement, questions of what comes next and so on.

The UFC may have the market cornered on American MMA, but this is a situation that showed that they clearly still have some room for improvement in managing news cycles.