Emelianenko should have replaced Lesnar

Fedor Emelianenko at the 'The Salamander Key' film premiere in Moscow. (WENN.COM)

Fedor Emelianenko at the 'The Salamander Key' film premiere in Moscow. (WENN.COM)

Jose Rodriguez, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:13 AM ET

Maybe it was more wishful thinking than anything.
    While wishing Brock Lesnar a speedy return from his battle with illness, this might have been the perfect time for the UFC to inject Strikeforce heavyweights into the mix.
    One in particular: Fedor Emelianenko.
    With Lesnar suddenly pulling out of UFC 131 on June 11 in Vancouver to deal with recurring bouts of diverticulitis, Shane Carwin has stepped up from the co-main event to take on Junior dos Santos.
    That left Carwin's original opponent, Norway's Jon Olav Einemo, without a dance partner. Late Friday, the UFC announced Einemo's new opponent will be Dave Herman, who will be making his UFC debut.
    With a card that is uncharacteristically weak given recent numbered UFC's, the injection of Emelianenko would have drawn immediate interest and perhaps save a card that reads more like a free-TV event than a pay-per-view.
    At present, Emelianenko is set to take on Dan Henderson in a Strikeforce fight in July.
    Instead of trying to make a comeback from back-to-back losses for the first time in his career against another former Pride fighter in the tail end of his career, the Russian monster could have used a save in the way of his first UFC fight.
    With an unbelievable 31-3 record and a decade-long streak without a defeat, Emelianenko is considered by many fans and pundits the greatest mixed-martial artist ever.
    With the UFC purchase of Strikeforce, Emelianenko is, essentially, an employee of president Dana White and Co.
    Injecting him into the UFC could have rescued a weak card made even weaker by Lesnar's absence and Herman's insertion.
    The UFC and Emelianenko have had a tumultuous coexistence, with the former Pride heavyweight champ refusing to sign on with the UFC despite numerous pitches by the world's biggest fight club.
    White has blamed Emelianenko's Russian entourage and its over-the-top demands for the UFC's failure to sign the Sambo expert.
    But with his record tarnished by losses to Fabricio Werdum and Antonio "Big Foot" Silva, Emelianenko's handlers might now be more willing to have him fight in an eight-sided cage -- even if it's too late to do so for UFC 131.
    Emelianenko's UFC baptism would have been enough of an event to secure decent pay-per-view buys and give the fans something more meaningful than the current substandard card.
    White has said he plans to run the UFC and Strikeforce as separate entities. But with plans to bring over welterweight champ Nick Diaz and the re-assigning of Jason "Mayhem" Miller from Strikeforce to the UFC, White has shown a willingness to mix and match.
    Einemo would have been a soft intro to the UFC for Emelianenko. One he could win. The move would have brought an instant star to the UFC, which is suffering from a slew of hurt or sidelined heavyweights.
    The fans deserve to see Emelianenko in the Octagon.
    UFC 131 would have been the perfect opportunity to do just that.


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