There was a time back in 2009 when the UFC made a serious push to sign former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko, but the two sides could never come to an agreement on a deal.
Since then, Emelianenko has continued to fight all over the world, and the UFC obviously moved on without him, but the tension between arguably the greatest heavyweight of all-time and world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion has never quite disappeared.
Evidence of that fact came ahead of the legendary Russian’s recent knockout against Tim Johnson in Bellator when he gave his unabashed opinion on UFC president Dana White.
“Money means everything to him,” Emelianenko told Russian outlet TASS. “He has no respect towards fighters, no respect for any human being. Only money and that’s all.”
On Saturday following UFC 267, White was asked about Emelianenko’s recent performance and whether or not the recent win may have somehow changed his opinion that “The Last Emperor” was actually overrated when it came to his career accomplishments.
“Should I not see him as overrated because he knocked out Tim Johnson?” White said with a puzzled look on his face. “I don’t think one way or another about it.”
White then took the opportunity to respond to Emelianenko’s comments about him personally after they tried and failed to work together in the past.
“First of all, I don’t even know Fedor,” White said. “Fedor doesn’t know me. We met one time. His statement was I was all about money — he should have been more about money when we made you that offer wherever the f*ck we were, whatever island that was we were on, and you wouldn’t still be fighting at 45 years old.”
At the time, White and former UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta had already brought over a number of fighter from PRIDE Fighting Championships after purchasing the promotion but Emelianenko was not among them.
That’s when White and the Fertitta brothers flew to an undisclosed location to meet with Emelianenko and his team to try and hash out a deal to finally bring him to the UFC. The idea was to pit Emelianenko against former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in a fight that would have taken place at Cowboy Stadium just outside Dallas, Texas.
Now all these years later, White promises that Emelianenko still regrets turning down that offer but he doesn’t expect the Russian to suddenly come calling to work together at this late stage of his career.
“You know I offered him a deal that he must still lay in bed everything and bum out about,” White said about the proposed fight against Lesnar. “We offered him a deal. We tried to do a deal with Fedor.
“Apparently Fedor doesn’t like me. So I don’t see it happening [that he’ll ever fight in the UFC].”