10 Questions for Lorenzo Fertitta

We want Fedor

By Loretta Hunt Jul 14, 2009
He’s the majority owner of the most successful fight promotion in the world -- yet Lorenzo Fertitta rarely takes centerstage.

However, to commemorate UFC 100, fans were treated to a special one-hour question and answer session with the reserved billionaire casino owner last Saturday at the UFC Expo in Las Vegas. With the fans at the helm, here are some highlights:

We have “The Ultimate Fighter” for the 155ers on Spike TV, but what about something for the 135- and 145-pounders on Versus?

Fertitta: We talked a lot about developing some sort of reality show for Versus. Now, we certainly don’t want to copy “The Ultimate Fighter” and what we’ve done on Spike, but we have been working on concepts where we can try to find new talent, bring new talent back to the WEC. You will see something happen where we have some kind of a show that will be a breeding ground for new talent to get into the WEC.

There’s an online petition called FedorChant.com, where a thousand people are going to cheer “Fedor” (Emelianenko) during the main event (at UFC 100). Is that going to put more pressure on you, and just the fact that Fedor doesn’t want to sign because of sambo, was that something that you’d ever overlook?

Fertitta: I hope all 12,000 people yell Fedor’s name at the same time. The pressure’s not on me. The pressure’s on him. They already know. The facts are the facts. We made him the best offer out there, more money than anybody offered him –- so you can’t say it’s about the money. Then they come back and they say, “Well, it’s a one-sided contract.” Let’s break this down from a logical standpoint. We offered the exact same contract that three hundred other guys have signed, including Brock Lesnar, Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, GSP, all the top stars. Why is that contract not good enough for Fedor? What Fedor wants is this. He doesn’t want to be exclusive. So, it’s like saying, okay, Tom Brady: “I’m going to play for New England Patriots one Sunday, but you know what? After that game’s over, I want to be a free agent and go see where I can play for the rest of the season.” Every weekend he’s going to skip around and play for whoever he wants. How does that make sense for us as a business or for the fans? He needs to come into our fold if he wants to cement his legacy as the best fighter in the world. We can figure something out with the sambo thing… (but) at the end of the day, I think we need to have a situation where at least 90 or 120 days before he’s signed a contract to fight, he shouldn’t be out there competing in events like that because I don’t want to take the chance of him getting hurt. But all of this stuff with Fedor: we want Fedor. As soon as he gets done with this show that he’s doing, he can come –- we’ve never met Fedor. I want to sit down. I want to talk to him and that’s part of the problem. We’ve never even met the guy. But it is a shame that he has not come forward to challenge the best guys in the world and I hope he comes. We want him.

Photo by Sherdog.com

Fertitta's T-shirt might say
"No Mas," but the fans want more.
Is the sambo really a sticking point?

Fertitta: That’s a big excuse for Fedor to say he’s not coming to the UFC, and quite honestly, I don’t think it’s Fedor. I think Fedor wants to compete. The issue has been his management. They’ve completely kept him aside. I’m not sure he even knows what we offered him, to be honest with you. I think if he knew what we offered, he would have been here a long time ago. There’s been a little bit of disconnect there… we want to meet him in person. We will not sit down and negotiate until me and Dana meet him in person. And if at that time he decides to not be a part of what we’re doing, then we know.

Why did you do a one-fight deal with (Mirko) "Cro Cop" (Filipovic) and not Fedor?

Fertitta: We have a direct relationship with Cro Cop and we talk to him on the phone and the deal went down so quickly. It wasn’t a one-fight deal. The contract was a quick one-fight contract, but he gave us his word that it was going to be a four-fight deal. I just got back from Croatia last week, spent some time with Mirko, went to his house. (He’s a) super nice guy, we went to lunch, and the fact of the matter is yesterday I got a contract signed for three fights.

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