Dana White has managed to shoot down most of the ‘what if’ questions in regards to Randy Couture facing Fedor Emelianenko in the UFC by repeating over and over again that Fedor is under contract with “another organization” and thus they can’t even talk about making that deal yet. But in an interview with USA Today’s Sergio Non, M-1′s Director of Operations Joost Raimond says that’s not really the issue:
The contracts that Fedor has at this point in time would allow for such a fight to take place, and specifically the Randy fight, so we’re free to make that happen if the opportunity presents itself.
…[A]nd the UFC knows that. That’s not a secret and we’ve always been very open that the Randy-Fedor fight is something special. It’s not your ordinary contract fight, as far as any fight can be ordinary.
But we’ve made provisions in any and all contracts that refer to Fedor to allow that fight to take place, with any organization in conjunction or in coooperation with whoever. Contractually there’s not an issue. … so I don’t know Dana would be calling that out, because the UFC is well aware that we have that contractual possibility.
So if it’s not his Affliction contract that’s holding things up, what’s the problem? From the sound of things, M-1 and Fedor’s “crazy Russian” management team are getting in the way. When asked if Fedor would be willing to sign an exclusive contract with the UFC — and as we all know, that’s the only way they do business — Raimond said it wasn’t a “feasible option.” And why not?
Because we have a contract with Affliction. We also — M-1, as an organization, we have a partnership with Affliction to co-promote events. We value that relationship very much, so signing a contract for a longer period of time, for a multiple-fight deal for Fedor with the UFC, is just not in the picture right now.
But once his contract with Affliction runs out and once he fulfills his M-1 commitments, would he then be willing to do an exclusive deal with UFC?
At that point in time, just like everybody else, I’m not able to look into a crystal ball, but if there are no further contractual obligations, and our partnership with Affliction would allow it, and Fedor would still be fighting — I’m already calling out a lot of ifs — yeah, we’ll entertain anything, including a deal with the UFC.
And who knows, By that time, there might be other organizations who are very interesting to talk to.
But to answer your question, if all those ifs are not an issue, then at that point in time, we will entertain that discussion with the UFC, certainly. … (But) let me make it clear that at this point and also for the coming period, that’s just not in the game plan.
Here’s what I’m hearing: M-1 has Fedor, Affliction is just borrowing him, but doing so with the knowledge that he can go fight Randy Couture wherever and whenever. What he can’t do is sign exclusive contracts, not until his deal with Affliction is up, and not unless M-1 (aka Fedor’s management team) gets a healthy slice of the pie for themselves.
Okay, I inferred that last part based on past observations, but it is rather suspicious the way M-1 and Fedor’s management are one and the same. They always talk about wanting to “co-promote,” but really what they seem to mean is they want to be paid for the rights to use Fedor and have the opportunity to make a few self-promotional speeches at the pre-fight press conferences. Affliction seemed okay with those conditions, but the UFC? Not bloody likely.