Latest on UFC's Negotiations with Fedor

September 11, 2007

Dave Meltzer reports in this week’s Wrestling Observer that the UFC’s offer to Fedor Emelianeko is around $1.5 million per fight. The current highest downside guarantee in the company reportedly belongs to Mirko Cro Cop at $350,000 per fight. The biggest stars like Liddell and Couture have $250,000 downside guarantees but reportedly make around $1 million per fight thanks to pay-per-view bonuses. UFC is offering the best money, much higher than K-1 or EliteXC. Mark Cuban’s HDNet fights has also made a late push.

The major sticking points between Fedor and the UFC are reportedly:

1)Exclusivity – the UFC refuses to allow Fedor to fight in Russia, not even in sambo tournaments.

2)Team Red Devil – the UFC won’t cut Fedor’s management in on its international market and won’t take Fedor’s teammates as a package deal.

3) Control – Fedor’s team wants to have more control over who Fedor’s opponents are. One guy they reportedly want no part of: Tim Sylvia.

4) Contract not guaranteed – As with all the UFC’s contracts, they always have the option of cutting the fighter and terminating the contract. Like all UFC contracts, the contract also features a champion’s clause which gives the UFC the right to book the champion’s next fight. For example, if Fedor won the UFC Heavyweight title in the last fight on his contract the UFC would have the right to book his next fight without renegotiating.

From my perspective, it looks like Fedor needs the UFC a lot more than the UFC needs Fedor. Fedor’s name means absolutely nothing in the U.S. right now, and I’m not convinced he will become a mega draw even with the UFC marketing machine behind him. He doesn’t have the look that draws in America, he doesn’t have a colorful personality, and he doesn’t speak english. The UFC will continue doing big business with or without Fedor.

For Fedor the UFC offers the greatest potential financial payday and is his only chance to truly establish himself as the best heavyweight in the world. He’ll never be worth more to the UFC than he is right now. A title unification bout between Fedor and Couture would do huge business as basically a real life Rocky IV.

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