Pre-fight conference calls are generally quite routine affairs. They serve a purpose: getting quotes to reporters to pass on to the fans, but often it's a lot of words with little meaning. The fighter always has had "the best camp of my life," is in the "the best shape of his life," and has plans to win.
A few colorful characters sometimes stray from the script, but every once in a while you get something unexpected. Heavyweight MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko
dropped one of those moments during Friday's Strikeforce call leading up to his fight with Fabricio Werdum
on June 26. Asked by MMA Fighting why their fight was more relevant than the upcoming UFC heavyweight championship bout a week later, the usually soft-spoken Emelianenko explained that the two fights featured four world-class talents. Then, he let out a rare, pointed comment.
"I'm not a UFC fan," he said through his interpreter, Steve Bash.
After inviting fans to watch his fight, which takes place at the San Jose, Calif. HP Pavilion and airs on Showtime, Emelianenko later expounded upon his remarks.
"What I meant to say was, I'm not a fan of watching their fights," he said. "Compared to the commercials, the promotion and anticipation of their fights and the shows I've seen, there seems to be a negativity in a lot of their shows, so I'm just not a fan of watching their programs.
"In some ways how the fights are presented, and the manner that they're presented." he continued. "Also, in some ways, the actions and behavior of some of the fighters in the UFC. It takes away from the sport."
Emelianenko did not name any specific fighters or actions, instead choosing to speak in general terms. For what it's worth, both he and Werdum are considered two of the sport's classiest individuals.
Emelianenko, whose M-1 Global management team has flirted with the UFC in past negotiation talks, has two fights left on his current Strikeforce deal. He is 32-1 with one no contest in his career, a record that easily ranks among the best winning percentages in MMA history.
UFC President Dana White
has repeatedly voiced an interest in signing the Russian powerhouse, but has continually voiced a frustration in dealing with M-1. Still, despite Emelianenko's pointed comments, White would likely take another crack at signing him if Strikeforce and Emelianenko do not reach a contract extension and he makes it back on the free-agent market.[Editor's Note: MMAFighting.com's MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani will have Fedor Emelianenko and M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan as guests, live on Monday at 1 p.m.]