Dana White has revealed that he does’t believe Fedor Emelianenko deserves to be ranked amongst the best in the sport.
The illustrious Emelianenko fought in his final fight on Saturday in the main event of Bellator 290, when he was defeated by heavyweight champion Ryan Bader via first-round knockout.
Emelianenko was then honoured in a ceremony inside the cage among other sports greats like Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Quinton Jackson, Frank Shamrock, and Mark Coleman.
“Listen, what is the guy, like, 46?” White said at the UFC Vegas 68 post-fight press conference. “He shouldn’t be fighting. But he’s a grown-ass man who can do whatever he wants to do, but yeah, he probably should have hung it up a few years ago.”
Emelianenko is renowned for being the finest fighter who has never fought inside the octagon in addition to being one of the best fighters of all time. Over the years, there were reportedly multiple stop-and-start conversations between UFC and Emelianenko's camp, but no deal was ever reached. Prior to returning to the UFC in 2008, Couture attempted to set up a fight between Emelianenko and himself outside of the organisation due to a contract disagreement.
White stated that despite their turbulent past, the inability to reach an understanding with Emelianenko was never personal.
“No, I don’t dislike Fedor or anything like that,” White said. “But no, it didn’t happen. We gave it a shot. You can’t say we didn’t try. We gave it a shot and it is what it is.”
When asked if he believed that Emelianenko damaged his legacy by competing after his peak, White initially tried to be polite before making it quite plain that, in his opinion, Emelianenko's record isn't all that it's piled up to be.
“I don’t want to s*** on the guy,” White said. “He’s retiring tonight and all that stuff, but you guys know the deal with interviews with me, I never thought Fedor was that — I mean he got knocked out by middleweight Dan Henderson. I was never one of the guys that thought he was one of the greatest of all-time.””