Fedor “Never Got to Test Himself Over Here” in UFC, Not One of the Greatest: Dana White

Dana White, Dana White's Contender Series 47 Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Dana White is not among those who consider Fedor Emelianenko among the greatest of all time.

Fedor, who retired Saturday night at Bellator 290 just as the UFC Vegas 68 card was getting underway, went out on his shield in a loss to Bellator’s heavyweight champ Ryan Bader. White and Fedor have had an rocky relationship at times over the years, with White questioning his place as one of the sport’s greats, and Fedor opting not to sign with the UFC despite attempts to sign him.

Following UFC Vegas 68, which ran into the wee hours of the morning on the east coast, White was asked for his thoughts on Fedor’s retirement.

“Listen, he’s what, 46? He shouldn’t be fighting. But he’s a grown-ass man, he can do whatever he wants to do,” the UFC President stated. “But he probably should have hung it up a few years ago.”

Asked if he regretted not signing the Russian, White answered in the negative. “No. I don’t like dislike Fedor or anything like that, but nah, it didn’t happen. We gave it a shot. Can’t say we didn’t try. We gave it a shot, and it is what it is.”

White did appear to question Fedor’s legacy, however. “I don’t want to sh*t on the guy, he’s retiring tonight and all that stuff. But you guys know the old interviews with me. I never thought Fedor was that— I mean he got knocked out by middleweight Dan Henderson, you know what I mean? It’s like— I think some of the guys in the business, people liked him, so they praised him. He never got to test himself over here, but I was never one of the guys that thought he was one of the greatest of all time.”

Of course, the asterisk next to that statement is that Fedor, always undersized for heavyweight, was knocked out by Hendo in 2011, at the end of a disastrous run in Strikeforce. In his heyday in Japan’s Pride, however, “The Last Emperor” defeated Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, all of whom won gold in the UFC. In Affliction he beat two more UFC champions in Tim Sylvia and Andre Arlovski — not to mention his wins over future UFC stars like Mirko Cro-Cop and Mark Hunt.

Of course, White is a promoter — with a product to promote. And to White, it’s Jon Jones, making his return this March, and moving up to heavyweight, who is the GOAT. “Jon Jones, when you talk about his legacy, if he can come in and beat Ciryl Gane, I said this when I talked to you guys last time, nobody can deny that Jon Jones is the greatest of all time, if he comes in and wins at heavyweight. It’s hard to debate if he doesn’t win the fight. If he wins this fight, there’s no more talking, no more debating. It is what it is.”