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Fedor Emelianenko has no regrets not fighting for UFC, recalls only meeting with Dana White

Ahead of the final mixed martial arts bout of his legendary career, Fedor Emelianenko has no regrets not competing inside the UFC’s octagon.

Emelianenko will challenge Ryan Bader for the Bellator heavyweight title this Saturday at Bellator 290 in his swan song at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The event will be the promotion’s first to air on CBS network television.

Several years ago, conversations between Emelianenko and the UFC were happening behind the scenes, yet a deal was never done to bring “The Last Emporer” to the promotion. In the end, Emelianenko’s career path played out the way it was supposed to in his eyes.

“I’m looking at this from a bit of a different perspective,” Emelianenko said on The MMA Hour. “If it was supposed to happen, it [would’ve happened]. If it didn’t happen, then it didn’t happen.

“I fought many UFC champions [in my career] and I was beating them all, so it doesn’t really bother me that I didn’t fight there.”

The 47-fight veteran believed for a few moments that a deal could get done, but the UFC wouldn’t agree to his terms, thus making Emelianenko, arguable, the greatest fighter in history to never compete inside the octagon.

“There was a moment when the UFC purchased Pride that it was a possibility,” Emelianenko said. “But Dana White didn’t sign the contract. That’s why [it didn’t happen].”

Emelianenko had comments about White prior to his knockout win over Tim Johnson at Bellator 269 in October 2021 where he said White “has no respect towards fighters,” and that he’s all about making money.

White, of course, responded when asked about the comments following UFC 267 that same month.

“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** we were, whatever island that was we were on, and you wouldn’t still be fighting at 45 years old.”

Emelianenko was asked about that meeting with White well over a decade ago, one that the heavyweight legend deemed somewhat pointless.

“We met once,” Emelianenko explained. “I didn’t know what the point of that meeting was. I had a current contract with Strikeforce while Dana White was offering me a new contract with the UFC. If I signed that contract, I would’ve been stuck, I would’ve had to go to court, and I wouldn’t have been able to fight for UFC or Strikeforce.

“I was on vacation on an island and Dana White came. There was nothing good there.”

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