Fedor Emelianenko appears to have far more control over promotional affairs than some would have expected.
According to Fight Nights Global promoter Kamil Gadzhiev, the 'Last Emperor' handpicked Fabio Maldonado from a list of potential opponents for the June 17 clash.
"Fedor was choosing from opponents that I offered him," Gadzhiev candidly stated on the ValeTudo.ru podcast. He revealed that the decision was a reasonable one based on Fedor's iconic status.
"This is a situation where Fedor's name is much bigger than the name of Fight Nights. We have to call things by what they really are. We can't appoint the opponents for Fedor. We're simply in a different league here. We have parity."
Gadzhiev explained that Fedor's participation in the Fight Nights landmark event was pivotal and they were prepared to meet any necessary demands.
"Fedor's participation is extremely important in this event. For us it's a milestone marketing event. So it's not the situation when we signed a guy and can do anything in the interests of the organization. Why should I lie to everyone now? Yes, we need Fedor, as it's a breakthrough for us. But we can get Fedor in our fight card only by taking into consideration his interests also."
According to the promoter, Fedor was given a list that included the likes of KSW heavyweight champion Karl Bedorf. Oli Thompson informed BloodElbow that he was also contacted with regards to the fight.
"Fedor was totally adequate when choosing the opponent. He never said 'give me a can so I could beat him.' He understands that fighting a lower-class opponent that he would defeat in one minute is a road to nowhere. Japanese didn't have many options with Jaideep Singh back in time. But if his fight with Maldonado will be the same, people would eventually lose interest in Fedor. He understands this and never asks someone [weak] he could easily beat.
Fedor is scheduled to meet Maldonado on June 17 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The event will stream on UFC Fight Pass.
Translation provided by Artem Safarov.