Anyone who has seen 'The Wrestler' may remember that Randy 'The Ram' Robinson, at the end of the film, just before he dies doing what he loves, says to the crowd: "You are my family."
The reason I'm reminding you of this is that this is why Fedor has not signed with the UFC. He has a family, but its not us.
What he cares about most is providing for his nearest and dearest, doing right by his friends, and honouring his promises.
The UFC propaganda machine is clunking into gear and no doubt boards will fill up with disappointed Fedor fans (of which I am one), and UFC fans saying 'I told you so'. Fedor will be called a coward (Chuck Liddel has the dubious 'honor' of being the first guy to spit out that predictable slander.) His management will be called insane, greedy, etc..., but most of it misses the point.
Yes Fedor could have told M1 to do a deal, but he didn't because his friend Vadim, who is also his business partner, has told him that the best way for him to secure a sound future for himself and his family, is to implement the M1 business plan. He trusts his friend, and he promised him that he would do his best to help M1 when he was given his equity stake in the business. He also wants to look the guys who he trains with in the eye, and say: "I wasn't going to leave you guys behind to become a globe trotting superstar who discards his friends and his country. I take you with me or I don't go."
If you or I were to ever cross Fedor in the street and ask him for an autograph, if his interpreter was handy or if we could speak Russian, he would sign the autograph, and if he didn't really have to be somewhere he would probably listen to our fanboy questions politely, and do his best to answer them, because he believes in being a nice guy, and he knows that without fans he would not be where he is today.
He has fought 31 times against a mixture of worthy opponents, not so worthy opponents, and dangerous freaks. He was even prepared to fight his buddy Josh Barnett, because we wanted him to, and that is what he knows he has to do to earn a living in this sport - give us what we want.
But what he is not going to do for us, not for any price, is turn his back on his friends, and what he believes is best for himself and his family. We and the UFC may believe he and M1 are deluded in their demand for co-promotion, but he doesn't believe us or the UFC, he believes the people who have made promises to him, and to whom he has made promises.
I truly believe the UFC made the best offer they thought they could, and that they really wanted to make this deal. Unfortunately, for reasons I don't think Dana White can fully grasp, the only thing that mattered to Fedor about the UFC deal was that it was acceptable to his friends in M1 Global.
Fedor is not Randy 'The Ram' Robinson. He does not live to fight. He fights to live. Both his honor as a man, and his life, come before MMA.
This is probably why his ppv numbers are not that great. This is not someone who is dying to be a martyr for the sport. He is someone, shock horror, who has the same priorities in life as most of us.
He will probably eek out the rest of his career fighting mostly mediocre fighters in fights that will never really capture the imagination, shrugging off charges that he dodged the best until his dying day, as the UFC attempt to write him out of the history of the sport or at least blacken his name forever.
If you want to go along with that, that is up to you. Personally, I don't believe in judging people, and certainly not someone, that regardless of what I think and how much I still hope he will still sign with the UFC, believes he has acted with honor, and in the best interests of those he loves and trusts. In fact, I didn't stop being a Fedor fan today, I just became a bigger fan, because while it takes courage to step into the ring, it takes much more courage to stand against the crowd, and stick with who and what you believe, when the easy thing to do is to go along with what everyone else wants.
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