Fedor Emelianenko is a brand ambassador for Bellator and has been at two of the promotion's shows this year. He has a fantastic relationship with Bellator president Scott Coker, going back to their days with Strikeforce.
But, despite those things, Emelianenko is not any more likely to sign with Bellator, according to his manager Vadim Finkelchtein. And his past issues with UFC president Dana White also won't deter Emelianenko from inking a deal with that organization, either.
"I think that doesn't matter at all," Finkelchtein told MMAFighting.com via e-mail. "And you know, Fedor is not in a bad relationship with Dana White or anyone else."
White has had some negative things to say about Emelianenko over the years, especially since both sides could not come to an agreement on multiple occasions. Earlier this year, Emelianenko said the UFC "does not show respect" to its fighters.
But those things won't play into Emelianenko's current decision, Finkelchtein said. This week, the MMA legend announced he'd be coming out of retirement after three years away.
"I don't really know where he will fight," Finkelchtein said. "Time will show. It depends on which offer will be the best. He doesn't have any specific preferences. But I am sure U.S., Japan, Russia and other countries will be happy to welcome Fedor.
"Fedor doesn't have any contracts with any promotions. Nothing bounds him. So I think that would be stupid not to be in negotiations with different MMA organizations. He has time, he has a wide choice so he can choose the contract with the best conditions for him."
If it were up to Finkelchtein, Emelianenko would compete at least once with M-1 Global, the promotion Finkelchtein founded in Russia and co-owns. However, he would also like "The Last Emperor" to get a shot against the world's best heavyweights again. Finkelchtein believes Emelianenko is still in that class -- especially because, the manager said, Emelianenko never used performance-enhancing drugs during his career.
"He didn't miss anything, he was training constantly and keeping himself active," Finkelchtein said of Emelianenko's time off. "Furthermore he had never used any kind of PED -- all his power and strength was gained by the hard work only. So this vacation only benefited him, because he didn't have all that downfall that PED users typically experience when they stop using. He recovered physically and mentally and he's ready to fight."
Finkelchtein said he sees "a fire" in Emelianenko's eyes now. For a while, it wasn't there. Finkelchtein said he was partially surprised when Emelianenko said he wanted to come back.
"He was working hard, training and fighting a lot during his career, he was tired - physically and mentally," Finkelchtein said. "So he decided for himself it was the time to stop. And that was [his] decision then. I was doing my best to make him come back, kept persuading him for almost all these three years. Last time I was trying to convince him to come back he asked me to never start that conversation again. So I gave up. He became the President of Russian MMA Union, travelled a lot, visited a lot of championships and gave speeches.
"He met a lot of people, he saw in their eyes they wanted him to come back. He had rest, he healed his injures and found out that he still wants to fight. So he decided to come back."
As for who he would want to fight, Emelianenko has no preference, according to Finkelchtein.
"I think Fedor wants to fight against the best athletes," the manager said. "I know his fans want the rematches with [Fabricio] Werdum, [Antonio] Silva, [Dan] Henderson. But I didn't hear Fedor telling me he wanted to fight someone in particular."