Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar, a battle between the generally recognized heavyweight champion of MMA and the superstar heavyweight champion of the UFC, would be the biggest fight in the history of mixed martial arts. It may never happen, but it just got more likely.
The news today that Affliction has canceled its Trilogy event has to have Fedor thinking that it's time he sign on with an organization that he knows will consistently put him in big fights against high-quality opponents. The UFC is the only promotion in the world that can do that.
Think what must be going through Fedor's mind right now: He's completed his eight-week training camp in Russia, he's making the long journey from Stary Oskol to Los Angeles, and I've been told by a source with knowledge of Fedor's schedule that he's currently in the air, scheduled to land this afternoon. Fedor's a cool customer, but when he finds out there's no fight waiting for him on the other end, he's going to be furious.
The UFC would simply not allow this to happen. No, the UFC can't say they'd never lose the opponent Fedor signed up to fight, but the UFC can say they'd never simply cancel an event. If Fedor signed on to fight Brock Lesnar, and Lesnar had to pull out on 10 days' notice, the UFC would get Fedor into the Octagon against Randy Couture, or Frank Mir, or Mirko Cro Cop, or Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, or Shane Carwin, or Cain Velasquez, or some credible opponent who would make for a good fight.
And make no mistake, that's what Fedor wants. I've been as critical of Fedor as anyone for spending a couple years fighting overmatched opponents after he beat Cro Cop in 2005. But Fedor has made it very clear in his words and his actions over the last year that he wants tough battles. That's what the UFC can provide him.
Fedor will always have options. He could fight for Strikeforce or for M-1 or for Dream or for any other MMA promotion he wants. But right now, he has to be thinking it's time to get out of the bush leagues of MMA, and into the major leagues. That means the UFC, and a title fight with Lesnar.