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TapouT Cancels Fedor Shirt After UFC Plays Hardball

Fedor EmelianenkoUFC President Dana White and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta have both said many times that they want Fedor Emelianenko in the Octagon. But they're not trying to accomplish that by developing a positive relationship with Fedor.

Instead, they're going to try to demonstrate to Fedor that they're the major players on the global MMA scene, and that if Fedor won't play ball with them, they'll make sure major sponsors won't play ball with him.

That's the lesson that was reinforced when TapouT decided not to do business with Fedor after previously agreeing to make the T-shirt he'd walk out in when he fights Fabricio Werdum on Saturday night. (Although you can still see the Fedor Walkout Tee as it previously appeared on TapouT's web site via the Google cache, it's no longer available for purchase.)

M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchtein, Fedor's longtime manager, gave his side of the story on M-1 Global's web site (which I've roughly translated via online translation tools):
I'm afraid to disappoint the fans, but it seems that Fedor's shirt will never be available. Just today I got the call from TapouT, and was told representatives of the UFC threatened to break all contracts with their organization and categorically demanded TapouT discontinue the Fedor Emelianenko T-shirt line. That Dana White has displayed such an attitude toward Fedor shows they are trying to hinder us even in such things that do not pertain directly to the UFC. So the Fedor TapouT shirts probably will remain obscure, and fans will see them only in photographs. Say thanks to the UFC and their policy of monopoly.
Basically, after hearing from the UFC , TapouT decided that doing business with Fedor wasn't a good idea if it was going to damage the longstanding relationshiop the company has with the UFC. So Fedor will now wear Clinch Gear (owned by Dan Henderson, another UFC persona non grata) on Saturday night.

It's important to note that the UFC doesn't have any kind of blanket policy against TapouT doing business with non-UFC fighters. In fact, the same TapouT shop page that was briefly taking pre-orders for the Fedor shirt is still taking orders for a Cris Cyborg shirt. This seems to be an issue the UFC has specifically with Fedor.

And it's a good indication of how the UFC is going to treat Fedor going forward. Last year the UFC tried to wow him by showing him how much money he could make fighting on UFC pay-per-view cards, and Fedor turned them down. Now the UFC is trying to isolate Fedor and show him how much money he's going to lose in endorsements if he's not in the UFC.

Either way, Fedor and the UFC are unlikely ever to come to terms. The UFC will continue to show its dominance of the global MMA scene by keeping the biggest sponsors away from Fedor, and Fedor will continue to show that he's content being the best fighter outside the best fight promotion.

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