Back at the start of the decade, all talk was of superfights in MMA, and specifically the UFC. One superfight stood out above all the rest: Lesnar vs. Fedor. Brock Lesnar, at the time, was at the height of his meteoric rise to MMA fame, while Fedor Emelianenko was considered the greatest heavyweight of all time, having become a legend in Pride.

Eventually, both men would falter: Lesnar would be forced out of the sport due to diverticulitis, a disease which saw him have a foot of colon surgically removed, and Emelianenko would go on a disastrous run in Strikeforce, losing to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, and Dan Henderson before leaving the company, taking a couple of fights elsewhere, and retiring.

That seemed to be the end of any prospect for a Lesnar vs. Fedor superfight. Both men retired. A few years back, Dana White opened up about trying to make that fight happen. He had very publicly fingered Fedor’s management group/Russian promoter M-1 as the reason the fight fell through, but he let a little more info slip to the media in the post-fight press conference for UFC on Fox 6:

When I was talking about doing that big Dallas, Texas stadium show it was going to be Brock Lesnar versus Fedor. Remember when I met with him and I said it didn’t get well? It actually did go well. It went well and then Fedor’s dad died, he wanted to fight Fedor… Fedor was done, he said ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with my family.’ We were negotiating for months. And then after his dad died he said, ‘That’s it, I’m done,’ or whatever and then Brock said, ‘I’m done too.’

If nothing else, it proves that contrary to popular opinion, the UFC were absolutely willing to go out of their way to sign Fedor and make the big fight happen.

Flash forward to 2016: Brock Lesnar just returned to the UFC, defeating Mark Hunt in a three-round unanimous decision. Emelianenko, for his part, just finished his most recent contract, taking a fight in Russia against Fabio Maldonado. It was a controversial decision — the heavyweight legend came awfully close to being finished by the former UFC light heavyweight — but in the end, he has won both his fights since returning from retirement in early 2016.

Now, Fedor is once again a free agent. Brock Lesnar has talked about continuing on past the Hunt fight. Fedor’s fight with Maldonado was streamed and promoted on UFC Fight Pass, and generated a huge amount of interest. Simply put, it’s the perfect time for the UFC to sign Fedor, even just for a one fight deal, and put on Lesnar vs. Fedor at long last.

True, Fedor is past his prime, and Lesnar likely is as well. Yet it would still represent two legends going at it, and being close in age, it’s actually a fairly evenly matched bout at this point (read: it’s not Slice vs. Shamrock). Both fighters are still big enough names, especially Lesnar, that it would be a huge deal. Maybe not a stadium in Dallas huge, but Madison Square Garden huge? Certainly.

This is it. This is the time. Lesnar just made the largest ever disclosed payday for a fight in the UFC: 2.5 million dollars in show money. Pay that to Fedor, and you’ve got a must-see main event that will get all sorts of press coverage for the promotion, and finally put to rest this weird footnote in MMA history.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.

  • Nick

    You don’t understand how business is done in Russia. Fedor is not a free agent – never was. He belongs to M1. That piece of shit Vadim has his ear.

  • Santiago Draco

    The problem with a Fedor/Lesnar fight is that fundamentally Lesnar is afraid to get hit, very afraid. Fedor isn’t. Fedor is smart but has no fear. If he manages to get Lesnar to run from his bombs then Lesnar is in trouble. That said Lesnar is also a monster and I am afraid that if Fedor get’s caught under Lesnar he could be done for. Too much size disparity.

  • JDS

    Fedor will knock Lesnar out. Fedor is still a fighter. Lesnar is collecting a check. Lesnar looked scared in his last fight. Fedor fought like a warrior.

  • TrumpGodzillaRising

    It would be a fight of legends Russia v USA given the current geopolitics, the attention received would be immense. Now is the time.

  • Vladimir M Malkin

    I don’t Lesnar has any chance. Like someone else mentioned Fedor is smart and fights with no fear. He is better than Lesnar in both striking and wrestling/judo/jujitsu. I don’t Lesnar takes the fight. Either way, Fedor has publicly stated before that he does not like UFC because he does not like how Dana treats his fighrers.