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Ahead of Bellator 290 retirement fight, Fedor Emelianenko has no regrets over UFC absence

Bellator MMA

As Fedor Emelianenko prepares to make his final appearance inside a mixed martial arts (MMA) cage this Sat. night (Feb. 4, 2023) at Bellator 290 against Heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, some fight fans are still irked by the fact that “The Last Emperor” never fought for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Sure, Fedor made his mark inside the PRIDE FC ring, but after the promotion went under (and was later acquired by UFC), “The Last Emperor” went on to fight for Strikeforce, Affliction, RIZIN and now Bellator MMA, but a trip to the Octagon never materialized.

So while the MMA masses and Dana White (to an extent) lament the fact that the greatest Heavyweight of all time never donned the UFC gloves, the Russian big man isn’t losing much sleep over it.

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

Emelianenko did fight several former UFC champions including Tim Silvia, Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski, scoring first-round stoppages against each of them. That in itself is a huge accomplishment for “The Last Emperor.”

“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. 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].”

UFC president, Dana White, has gone on record to say he tried to make a deal with Fedor in the past, going as far as flying to a remote island to get things done. The outspoken promoter would go on to say that it was “The Last Emperor’s” management team that ruined negotiations and caused a proposed mega-fight between Emelianenko and Brock Lesnar to go up in smoke.

According to Fedor, however, the meeting was a rather confusing one.

“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.”

According to several former MMA legends, the fact that Fedor and UFC never partnered up won’t affect his legacy because he has already cemented his place in the history books as the greatest 265-pound fighter of all time.

The former PRIDE FC champion will look to add one more title to his mantle in his swan song against a determined champion in Bader who isn’t opposed to playing the bad guy (again) in “The City of Angels” to protect what is his.

Bellator 290 goes down this Saturday night (Feb. 4, 2023) inside Kia Forum in Los Angeles, California. For complete live streaming results click here.

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