Forced to wait for Fedor

JOSE RODRIGUEZ

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

Don't bet on Fedor Emelianenko mauling anyone inside the UFC Octagon any time soon.

At least not until every other legitimate fight club has collapsed.

When Brock Lesnar dethroned Randy "The Natural" Couture last weekend, he also derailed one of the most anticipated plans in mixed-martial arts.

Couture's return to the UFC a few months back was predicated on a commitment from president Dana White to do everything in his power to sign Emelianenko. Couture had quit a year earlier, citing a lack of respect, pay and the UFC's inability to sign the Russian mangler.

Last Saturday night, when Lesnar turned his XXX-L gloves into meat tenderizers and unloaded on Couture's face, forcing a stoppage, he gave White an easy out from a commitment he seemed reticent to make in the first place.

After all, bringing Emelianenko in to fight Couture doesn't make as much sense as it once did and the foul-mouthed UFC boss has seldom held his punches in speaking of the Russian limb twister.

Despite obvious evidence to the contrary, White refuses to give Emelianenko much credence.

Emelianenko is signed to fight in a January card for Affliction, where he will put his WAMMA heavyweight belt on the line against former UFC champ Andrei Arlovski.

Emelianenko, who has a contract with M-1 Global and Affliction, has said he's interested in fighting Lesnar and M-1 has said it would love to put together a joint-promotion superfight with the UFC.

But White, who is more protective of the UFC brand than a hyena on a carcass, is unlikely to bite.

FANS LOSE OUT

White has maintained -- and been right in many cases -- that all the other fight clubs are on the brink of folding. White has correctly called the end of EliteXC and the International Fight League.

He thinks Affliction is no different and eventually, Emelianenko will make himself available to the UFC out of necessity. The losers are the fans, who are forced to wait.

White should stick to his promise to bring in the 29-1 Emelianenko through negotiation, as opposed to waiting for a collapse. But with the economy in the toilet and Affliction likely to bleed more money, there is pressure on White to ink a deal.

Lesnar's near future is already set without the Russian. He will defend his belt against the winner of the Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira-Frank Mir fight next month.

Should Lesnar be successful against either of the ground experts, the only fight that would make sense would be Fedor. At that point, if Affliction hasn't gone the way of T-Rex, White may be forced to court Emelianenko.

But the odds of him swallowing enough pride to do that aren't good.

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ON THE CARD

- WWE Survivor Series goes tomorrow, 8 p.m., on pay-per-view. John Cena vs. Chris Jericho; Triple H vs. Kozlov vs. Jeff Hardy; The Undertaker vs. The Big Show (casket match).

- UFC Fight Night 16: Fight for the Troops goes Dec. 10 from Fayetteville, N.C. at Fort Bragg base. Josh Koscheck takes on Yoshiyuki Yoshida; Jonathan Goulet vs. Mike Swick. Free on Spike.

- The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale goes Dec. 13 from Las Vegas. Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald of Red Deer, Alta., takes on Wilson Gouveia, and the show's finalists square off for titles. On Spike.

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IN THIS CORNER

RANDY "THE NATURAL" COUTURE, MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

The 45-year-old MMA legend has reached a fork in his career. Couture, who lost his heavyweight belt to Brock Lesnar, says he plans to continue fighting. But having lost three of his last six fights, the man known as Captain America is definitely in the twilight of his storied career. Couture was the first man to hold belts in two weight classes (heavyweight and light heavyweight). He is also a world-class trainer and cornerman, helping the likes of Forrest Griffin, Wanderlei Silva and his wife, Kim Couture.


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