Last week Fedor Emelianenko signed with Blue Entertainment Sports Television (BEST). BEST is a United States marketing agency, which mostly caters to sports stars. Their sports clients include Reggie Bush, Andy Roddick, Rasheed Wallace, and August 2008 Playboy Cover Girl Ashley Harkleroad of the WTA. BEST will handle Fedor's television and marketing deals. This includes the planned TV series "Fighting Fedor", which will feature aspiring fighters vying for a shot at Fedor in the ring.
The bigger issue this news raises is Fedor and his handlers are planning on building the Fedor brand in the United States. For years he has been a foreign commodity, but now appears ready to capitalize on the American market. It remains to be seen how successful Fedor will be within the United States. Mixed Martial Arts has done a solid job of anchoring itself as a viable sport. The UFC has been the most successful, receiving sponsorship from companies such as Burger King and Harley-Davidson. On the other hand, opportunities for fighters remain limited compared to other popular athletes (Condom Depot ads). Anderson Silva isn't appearing on an episode of Grey's Anatomy any time soon.
Fedor faces obstacles, like not speaking English, but he is gaining recognition. A fight with Randy Couture might be the tipping point he and the rest of MMA fighters need to become fully marketable. It takes one fighter to open the doors for the rest. Randy Couture's performance in Scorpion King 2 is not going to change things. A victory over Couture could propel Fedor into realms MMA fighters have never gone. Mike Tyson made a lot of money being the "Baddest Man on the Planet" and he never said much either.