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Dana White says UFC offered Fedor Emelianenko so much money to fight Brock Lesnar ‘It made no sense’

Kevin Iole
Cagewriter

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Fedor Emelianenko never fought in the UFC, declining a large offer from Dana White (Getty)

HOUSTON -- In 2009, UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta flew to an island off Venezuela to meet all-time great heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko and his representatives with the intention to sign him to a contract.

The goal was to put Emelianenko into a bout with then-UFC champion Brock Lesnar that would have been held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It likely would have been the highest-selling pay-per-view in UFC history, had it happened.

[Related: By all appearances, Roy Nelson worth watching at UFC 166]

Emelianenko is regarded by many as the greatest heavyweight in mixed martial arts history and by some as the greatest fighter in the sport's history.

A deal was never reached -- White said Thursday that Emelianenko's representatives laughed at the offer -- and Emelianenko retired without ever competing in the UFC.

Emelianenko was in the news this week because he told a Russian TV station he felt White hated him and pointed to that as a reason a deal was never completed. White chuckled at that thought.

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UFC president Dana White (Getty)

White said the UFC made three runs at Emelianenko, twice with Fertitta alone doing the negotiating on the UFC's behalf and once with himself and Fertitta on the island in Venezuela.

He said that Emelianenko's representatives wanted the UFC to build an arena in Russia as a condition for Emelianenko fighting in the UFC.

"When I tell you we did everything, someday I'll tell the story of how much we offered that [expletive], too," White said. "People will [expletive] [expletive]. It made no sense [how much we offered]. It was one of those type of deals like, you know that these networks, the NFL does $9 billion in television revenue. It makes no sense for the networks. The network doesn't make a dime off that. But you have to have the NFL, right? The NFL pulls ratings like anything.

"This is one of those deals [we offered Emelianenko] where it's like, 'This makes no [expletive] sense whatsoever.' Literally, when we got onto the plane when we were flying back, we were like, 'Thank [expletive] God they turned that offer down.' We were like, 'Thank God they turned that down.' "

Junior dos Santos hoping to bring special Nike shoe to market next year

Nearly 30 years ago, Nike released the first Air Jordan sneakers, and the athletic shoe industry has never been the same. Since Michael Jordan and Nike hit gold with those high-priced shoes, dozens of athletes have come out with their own brand of shoes.

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Junior dos Santos hopes to bring this shoe to market in 2014. (Kevin Iole)

Heavyweight Junior dos Santos, who on Saturday meets champion Cain Velasquez in a rubber match that is the main event of UFC 166 at the Toyota Center, wore a pair of custom-designed Nike sneakers to an interview session with the media on Thursday.

[Related: UFC heavyweight contender wants to box Klitschko brothers]

He said he hopes the shoes can be brought to retail sometime by the middle part of next year.

"The colors and the style of the shoe, I worked with them on that," dos Santos said. The shoes are a rich blue with his initials in lime green on the front.

White noted the fact that mainstream companies like Nike are working with mixed martial arts fighters on such products is a sign of the company's growth and move toward the mainstream.

There was a time not so long ago, one White remembers well, when the UFC had no sponsors and the ring mat was simply a blank canvas.

John Dodson plans to follow up when he lands

Flyweight John Dodson lost a title bid against Demetrius Johnson in January in a bout that many expected him to win. Dodson, who fights Darrell Montague on Saturday, said he failed to take advantage of opportunities he had against Johnson.

It's the one thing he said he plans to change when he faces Montague, the talented UFC newcomer.

"It's simple: I have to make sure I go out there and not watch my handiwork," Dodson said. "I remember going on out there. I watched me hit him and I watched him fall. Then, I watched me winning my title shot slipping through my fingers. I can no longer allow that to happen. If I see something, I'm going to take the opportunity to jump on whatever's given me. If I knock him down, I'm going to take it. If I get an arm bar, I'm going to apply it."

White not buying Palhares' apology

Rousimar Palhares, who was cut by the UFC for holding a heel hook too long on Mike Pierce earlier this month in Brazil, has profusely apologized, but he's making no headway with White.

White said Thursday he had no plan to allow Palhares to return to the UFC.

"Anybody who knows anything about jiu-jitsu knows, that's the nastiest thing you can do to somebody," White said. "We don't even let guys trying out for 'The Ultimate Fighter' do leg locks. A lot of people don't allow leg locks in jiu-jitsu and when they're training and stuff. Anyone who is in jiu-jitsu and has done it knows what it feels like and knows what it means. Knee injuries, you need surgery. Look at [bantamweight champion] Dominick Cruz, he's been out two years [after surgery]. It can destroy a career. It can end a career.

"I didn't really physically actually write it in stone, but yeah, I'm pretty serious about it and I'm not interested in a guy like that."

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