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Could Cro Cop One Fight Deal Open Doors for Fedor?

fedor-emelianenko-2Mirko Cro Cop will try one more time to make a splash in the increasing crowded UFC heavyweight division at he steps back into the Octagon this Saturday at UFC 99 after a 3 fight absence. What is particularly unique about this last minute deal between Cro Cop and the UFC is, according to Dana White, no paperwork was actually signed and that the deal was basically completed over the phone. Even more interesting is the fact that Cro Cop signed a 1 fight deal with the UFC, which is very rare and something they try to avoid at all costs.

The UFC has gone on record saying they won’t do 1 fight deals, except in very unique situations. They want their fighters locked up long term and do not make them available to other organizations. It’s a sound business policy that has enabled them to become the run away winner as best Mixed Martial Arts Organization in the world. By a significant margin.

This same policy has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the quest for the UFC and Fedor Emelianenko to be able to come together and work out a deal. Fedor’s team wants the UFC to allow Fedor to compete in Combat Sambo, which is a form of martial arts fighting that uses protective equipment and one which Fedor is a world champion and National Hero because of it.

The UFC counters that Fedor cannot compete in Combat Sambo since they need him to be ready to fight in the cage, when the UFC decides. Simply put – Fedor works for the UFC. Not the other way around.

Another significant issue to the Emelianenko camp, as they claim, is a certain clause in the UFC contract that stipulates if Fedor would become champion, he is under contract with them for as long as he lay claim to the belt.

The UFC counters that indeed that is a stipulation in their contract called the “Champions Clause”. But it is simply there to mitigate the risk of a fighter winning the title, then quitting the UFC and leaving the organization without champion.

fedor_cssdxzc22w2e4gLast week, as Fedor was touring the Western states promoting his upcoming Affliction III fight with Josh Barnett, his management went on record saying that they would like a one fight deal with the UFC to fight their champion, either Frank Mir or Brock Lesnar.Let’s ignore the fact that Fedor was openly campaigning for a fight in the UFC while promoting his upcoming match for a different organization and focus on the idea of a one fight deal.

Fedor would like to fight the UFC champion. It doesn’t make much sense for the UFC to allow Fedor to fight their champion, win the title and then leave the organization. But could they set up a fight with their champion with no title on the line? When Royce Gracie came back to the UFC in 2006 to fight then champion Matt Hughes, this fight had no title implications since it was at a catch weight. Could the same be done for Emelianenko? This is unlikely since everyone will expect Fedor to get an immediate title shot.

In the very same week that Cro Cop was offered a one fight deal, the UFC will have to reject Fedor’s very unofficial request. Cro cop isn’t fighting for a title, so the “champions clause” matters not in this case. Fedor, on the other hand would be fighting for the title immediately and would likely win it in his very first fight. The UFC knows this. They aren’t stupid. They haven’t made millions of dollars by making bad business decisions. Cro Cop gets a one fight deal but Mr. Emelianenko, you sir may not.

What does the one fight deal with Cro Cop tell us? Well, it shows some flexibility on the UFC’s part, something they usually lack. It shows that if they want Cro Cop on the Germany card to sell more tickets (and quickly) then they will make it happen. And if they want Fedor bad enough, they will make that happen too.

It’s unclear if the same type of deal can be made with Fedor, but the UFC clearly wants the Russian on their team. If both sides are willing to make some additional concessions and the UFC can continue to loosen up on some of their policies for unique circumstances, then we may see him in the cage sooner than we think.

It’s unlikely that the Cro Cop one fight deal will lead to a one fight deal for Emelianenko, but the flexibility that the UFC is showing could lead to more dialogue between the two parties and go a long way. A long way to finally seeing the greatest heavyweight fighter in the history of MMA inside the greatest MMA organization in history.

  • Alex says:

    It has nothing to do with Fedor’s camp not thinking the UFC is the most populuar and highest caliber MMA promotion. Fedor has never signed with the UFC because they do not offer him the flexibility and freedom for him to compete in his Sambo competitions. Nor do they allow the freedom for prestigious grappling tournaments like ADCC. Once you sign with the UFC on a long term conract, they own your ass. I think Dana White is scared to have a short term contract with him because if Fedor does destroy either Brock Lesnar or Frank Mir, more UFC fans will become Fedor fans and take their business to another promotion. It also would completely undermined the UFC in its standing with other MMA promotions. Fedor is a risk to the UFC unless he signs a long term conract, and do to the no freedom to compete in other competition clauses, Fedor will never sign for a long term contract. The Fedor vs the UFC champion fight will be a lot of risk but Dana White has to suck it up and offer a 1 fight contract, because Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar couldn’t fight fedor in another promotion even if they wanted to.

  • Boyd says:

    Both sides know this fight has to happen at some point. Eventually they will do what it takes to see that it does – just like when Couture returned after a legal battle that was getting know where.

  • james thomas says:

    i wonder if something has been signed with kimbo slice? do they do these types of fight deals for tuf, or is it just an agreement to participate on the show with no strings attached?

  • Lawrence says:

    I wonder if this is a matter of the UFC testing the waters for these types of deals going forward, or if it’s just the fact that they know Cro Cop can draw interest for this fight and the deal leaves them with the most flexibility after the result. I’m sure that they have an option to renew or walk depending on the outcome. It should also be noted that Cro Cop is positioned as the opening fight on the card, and it would be highly unlikely for the UFC to do this type of deal for someone headlining or co-headlining a pay-per-view event.

  • Johnnie B says:

    Fedor needs to realize that if the UFC is going to invest from a promotional standpoint, they need a guarantee of at least 3 fights to capitalize on that promotional investment in fight #1. Whether Fedor’s camp wants to admit it or not, the UFC is much more mainstream than some of the underground MMA community is and will draw a much better buyrate for promoting Fedor than any Affliction show will. I think that Fedor doing a 3 fight agreement with the UFC would work for both sides on multiple levels.

  • Jay Jay says:

    Interesting read. I have to think somehow the two side can come together and make this deal happen. It would be just too silly for fedor to never compete in the UFC.


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