Back in July, Emelianenko Fedor announced his return to MMA, beginning a torrent of speculation among fans and media.
Where would the legendary Russian heavyweight go?
Some thought he would go to Bellator, which is presided over by Fedor’s old friend Scott Coker. The two enjoyed a good working relationship together when Coker led the Strikeforce promotion into national spotlight from 2009 to 2011.
Some thought he would end up back in Asia, with ONE Championships. ONE enjoys a rule set and a manner of presentation which is similar to PRIDE FC, where Fedor rose to prominence from 2002 to 2006.
Some thought he would go to the UFC, where most of the world’s top MMA fighters ply their trade. But negotiations between the two didn’t go well in the past. Some felt it wouldn’t be a good fit at all.
@CoachEdge1 I hope not. He has nothing left to prove. Of course,money TRUMPS that. (See what I did there?)
— Mauro Ranallo (@mauroranallo) September 16, 2015
According to at least one report, the money may have just trumped anything any MMA fighter has received.
Dave Meltzer reported in Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Fedor received a $2.5 million signing bonus to fight for Nobuyuki Sakakabira’s new promotion.
Per @davemeltzerWON, Sakakibara offered Fedor 2.5 million guaranteed. So that explains why he’s not in the UFC.
— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) September 24, 2015
In contrast, the most recent UFC event, UFC 191, saw its participants paid out $1.53 million in total. Payrolls for many MMA events fail to crack the one million dollar mark.
Sakakibara, who was president of PRIDE FC from 2003 to 2007, is presenting his promotion’s first event on New Year’s Eve in Japan. Fedor’s opponent has yet to be announced. The show will be broadcast in North America on Spike TV.