March 29, 2008
UFC president Dana White said the company had released one big-name heavyweight from his contract while admitting interest in arguably the biggest heavyweight name of all.
White said the UFC released former heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia from his contract with one fight remaining on it. The move made Sylvia a free agent and he is expected to sign a contract with M-1 Global, where he would be teamed with his agent, M-1 Global chief executive officer Monte Cox.
But White said that the UFC is again interested in landing former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. Emelianenko had a very public dalliance with the UFC last year, only to spurn the company in favor of the newly formed M-1 Global.
That sparked a torrent of abuse from White toward Emelianenko.
But M-1 has conceded that Emelianenko never signed the agreed upon contract and that he was a free agent. Elite XC has made no secret of its desire to sign the many man feel is the best fighter in the world.
White said Friday that he would attempt to reach a deal with Emelianenko, who is 27-1 with one no-contest and owns a pair of victories over current UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Randy Couture, who holds the UFC heavyweight belt, is in the midst of a lawsuit with the UFC largely because of Couture's desire to fight Emelianenko. The UFC has refused to co-promote an event with another promoter and would only do it if Emelianenko signed a promotional contract with it.
On Friday, White never mentioned Couture by name, but said he would be open to the fight.
"We want to make the fights the people want to see," White said. "If there is a fight that we can make for him that people really want to see, then we'll try the best we can to get that done. We'll see what we can do as far as (signing Emelianenko) goes."
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