When word first emerged that heavyweight star Fedor Emelianenko was coming out of retirement it appeared like it was going to be a battle between the UFC and Bellator to capture his signature, but it turns out that’s not the case.
Bellator CEO Scott Coker knows Fedor well due to having previously signed him for Strikeforce, but in a new interview he claims that he’s not in a hurry to bring the Russian back into the cage.
“We’ve got a great roster and a great thing going,” Coker told MMAjunkie.com. “When he comes back into the market, I feel like he’s going to come back for three or four years. He’s not going to come back for one fight. And he is coming back – for sure. … But I’m not sure where he’s going – if he’s close to signing with the UFC, I hear rumors of this and that. I haven’t asked him.
“Let’s let him come back and see how it works out for him, and then maybe we’ll have him fight a couple years down the line, or next year, or whatever. The door is open, but I felt like at this point, Bellator is kind of on a little bit of a roll here. Would he add a lot of value? Yes. But we’re just going to sit back and see what happens.”
In the interview Coker also admitted that he’d spoken to Fedor, but claims they’ve not discussed anything fighting related. That’s not strictly true though as the Bellator boss did meet up with Emelianenko in Japan late last year where he was believed to be hoping to coax him out of retirement, but came back empty-handed, telling MMAfighting.com at the time that, “He’s made it very clear he doesn’t want to fight right now.”
Apparently something since has convinced him to change his mind, but it’s not Coker’s doing. So, reading between the lines it seems that there may be more to this story than just Coker deciding that they don’t want one of the sport’s biggest legends on their roster right now.
The Russian himself has strongly hinted that he’s interested in going to the UFC as he wants to avenge a loss to current champion Fabricio Werdum and so it may be that Bellator feel (or indeed know for certain) that it’s going to be too difficult to convince him otherwise, particularly when their own heavyweight roster is painfully thin.
Fedor already has a hall-of-fame worthy career behind him, but the fact that he has never competed in the UFC has always been a source of disappointment and left an unfortunate question mark regarding his true standing among the sport’s all-time greats.
With Bellator now out of the running it looks like we are now tantalizingly close to at last seeing ‘The Last Emperor’ write the final chapter in his fighting legacy by testing himself on the sports biggest stage.