On Tuesday, I posted this article about the ongoing negotiations between the UFC and Fedor Emelianenko. Some questioned the validity of it after Dana White claimed in the conference call Fedor was under contract with Affliction and he was not going to get involved in it. First of all, I am not sure why any one would put stock into some thing White said about the situation. He needs to be careful what he says because Fedor is under contract with Affliction and the wrong series of words could send him to the court room. Despite his denial, the evidence is continuing to mount.
USA Today has an interview with M1's Director of Operations, Joost Raimond, who confirms that Fedor's contract with Affliction has a clause, which allows him to fight Randy Couture with another promotion. He also says, "Contractually there's not an issue. ... so I don't know [why] Dana would be calling that out, because the UFC is well aware that we have that contractual possibility." This goes directly against Dana White's comments about tampering with Fedor's Affliction contract. My thinking is White answered the question in a very subtle way. All he said was the UFC would not tamper with Fedor's contract with Affliction. If they use the out-clause to book a fight with Couture, they are not tampering.
The second piece of evidence comes from Fightline.com. According to their report, as part of Couture's new contract with the UFC, the company agreed to co-promote a fight with Fedor Emelianenko. The co-promotion would be between the UFC and M1, not Affliction. This means the pieces are in place on all sides. The only thing left is for the UFC to come to terms with Fedor and M1. Obviously, this is no small feat. The last time the two sides sat down to negotiate, things ended badly. It is possible the same obstacles will prevent the historic fight from happening. However, it is also possible the UFC will seek a compromise like they did with Randy Couture. Strange things are happening in Mixed Martial Arts. Get ready for an interesting end to 2008.