In the span of a week, Cain Velasquez went from indomitable heavyweight champion to casualty of Junior dos Santos’ right hand on network television. Meanwhile, Fedor Emelianenko went from washed-up heirloom from his Pride days to a surging force to be re-reckoned with on early morning pay-per-view.
This last part is according to Evgeni Kogan, the M-1 Global Director of Operations, who became convinced of the notion while watching Emelianenko chop down Jeff Monson for three rounds in Moscow. It was Fedor’s first win since 2009, when he beat Brett Rogers in the second round after nearly succumbing to Rogers in the first.
From Kogan’s point of view, this is new evidence to re-open the Fedor case. And it’s a renaissance that is apparently big enough to usurp such trivial matters as the UFC’s policy against cross-promotion, and, you know, reality.
You might have seen the Tweet that Kogan sent to Dana White: “Fedor vs Velasquez in 2012, let’s make this happen. Fedor is back, and a fight with Cain will prove it.” Usually call outs of this nature require two pieces on level ground, within the same promotion and within a framework of actual reason.
In this instance, the challenge seems to be more like a telegraphed thought process -- a win against Velasquez would do wonders for revitalizing Fedor’s career. How’s that for an offer? Fedor, who has everything to gain, against Velasquez, a Guinea pig that can be borrowed to prove a point. To who, Dana White? The fans? Russia? To the judoka Satoshi Ishii, who is the hurdle to this hypothetical fight, whom Fedor is supposed to meet on New Year’s Eve?
And what’s in it for the UFC? Velasquez, who was undefeated going in, just fought in front of millions on FOX as the promotion tries to crash headlong into the masses. Fedor broke a three-fight skid in fairly unimpressive fashion, against a guy most assumed he would beat. At this point, who is in a position to broker a deal?
Who do you think would dictate terms?
You might have seen White’s response to media inquiries as to whether the UFC would be interested in Fedor. “Hell no!” He used different expletives in different text messages to different media members, but the sentiment was gleefully the same. Talking Fedor, at this point, makes him smile. White is a dude who can hold a grudge. In his mind, Fedor blew his chance.
The bottom line is, a little fun is fine. A little optimism, a little delusion -- why not? The fight game embraces all of it. But either Kogan isn’t fully understanding White’s personal loathing against Fedor’s handlers (himself included) for turning down an out-of-proportion offer from the UFC, or he’s just trying a different tact to relevancy (that of fanning a fading legend’s fumes). Would it be a fun fight? Sure, and Fedor could feasibly win it. He’s still a draw, and he still has mystique. But it makes no sense on just about any level outside the fantasy realm, of which M-1 Global has been accused of operating. In fact, it’s absurd.
If Fedor is truly back, he should defeat Ishii at the "Fight for Japan" card, then beat another wanderer on the heavyweight circuit -- somebody with suitable credentials -- and build up a head of steam. Then come to the UFC willing to accept an offer on their terms, because -- as much as it stings Fedor’s fans and theorists with “what if” scenarios -- all of its prized heavyweights will be off-limits otherwise. There’s no way around it. There’s no budging.
And only one side has leverage here, no matter how much the other side is deluded enough into thinking otherwise.