Fedor Emelianenko: "I'm Not A Fan Of The UFC"
Top-ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko said today that he doesn't think much of the promotion that's so aggressively courted him for more than three years.
"I'm not a UFC fan," Emelianenko said when asked if his June 26 headliner against Fabricio Werdum at "Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum" is more relevant than an a UFC title-unification bout between champ Brock Lesnar and interim title-holder Shane Carwin at UFC 116.
"I would invite all the fans to watch our fight, which I believe is more important," he said through translator Steven Bash.
The winner of Emelianenko (31-1 MMA, 1-0 SF) vs. Werdum (13-4-1 MMA, 2-0 SF) is expected to fight current Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, who in May defended his title against Brett Rogers.
Overeem and his managers have sparred in the press with Emelianenko's representatives over the potential bout and have traded accusations as to the the long-anticipated fight's delay.
Emelianenko, who this past August signed a three-fight contract with Strikeforce after intense negotiations with the UFC, did not back off his statements when later asked to clarify.
"I'm not a fan of watching [the UFC's] fights," he said. "Compared to a lot of the commercials and promotion in anticipation of their fights, and compared to a lot of the shows I've seen, there seems to be a lot of negativity involved in their shows.
"So I'm just not a fan of watching their programs."
It was the first time Emelianenko took a direct shot at the UFC's product. In the three years since the Russian became a free agent with the shuttering of PRIDE Fighting Championships, he shied away from criticizing the industry-leading fight promotion.
UFC president Dana White alternately has blasted Emelianenko and coveted his services.
"I've signed Brock Lesnar, who came from the WWE, James Toney from boxing – he's a nut chasing me all over the place – Tito Ortiz, whom I hated, and he hated me," White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) in an interview following UFC 115. "I've kept Chuck Liddell, kept Matt Hughes, kept Rich Franklin, when they were all champions. Anderson Silva, I've dealt with all the crazy [expletive] with him.
"But I can't sign Fedor? How is this possible that I can't sign this guy? It's not possible. These guys don't want to fight the best in the world."
Emelianenko said his dislike of the UFC stems from how its fights are presented and the fighters it employs.
"I think a combination," he said. "And also, in some ways, (it's due to) the actions and the behavior of a lot of fighters from the UFC. It takes away from the sport."
In the past, Emelianenko's manager, Vadim Finkelchtein, has addressed White's claims. But today, the manager and M-1 Global president was silent.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said today that "Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum" has crossed the 10,000 mark in ticket sales, and he expects a full house at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., for the event.