Shortly following Ariel Helwani's initial announcement that Jaideep Singh would be the chosen opponent for Fedor Emelianenko's return fight, fan and pundit reactions made Rizin Fighting Federation reconsider its decision.
The Japanese then commenced a hunt for a more reasonable opponent for Fedor rather than Singh, who was 1-0 at the time of the announcement. One of the names mentioned was former UFC champion Randy Couture. Another was K-1 legend and WSOF executive Ray Sefo, who revealed that Rizin reached out to him a little over a month before New Year's Eve.
"The opportunity to fight him was actually offered to me, I think five weeks out from the actual New Year's Eve fight, Sefo wrote in a column for WSOF.com. "I was honored, but I told the guys, ‘Listen, that fight, I would love to have. He's a legend in this sport. Win or lose for me, it would be amazing to get in there.'
"But at the same time, I said, ‘Five weeks is not enough for me to prepare for someone like Fedor. He's a guy that I don't want to just jump in there. That's disrespectful to him and disrespectful to myself.'
While Sefo turned down the initial offer to fight Fedor, he is open to the match-up against the former Pride FC champion if given 10 weeks notice.
"I can get ready to fight a kickboxing fight in five weeks. But for me to fight an MMA fight, I want at least 10 weeks to get ready for it. So five weeks wasn't enough for me to take that fight, and we turned it down. But if that fight was ever offered to me, and I was offered 10 weeks to get ready for it, I would take it in a heartbeat."
Fedor is expected to compete on Rizin's next show on April 17.