Reporter Ariel Helwani has made his pick for the biggest UFC matchup that never reached the steel surroundings of the Octagon.
While the MMA leader is well known for consistently putting on the biggest and best fights possible — something many list as a pro for the UFC and Dana White when comparing it to boxing promoters — it doesn’t always go to plan.
Throughout the organization’s near-three decades of existence, a number of blockbuster matchups have fallen away despite the best efforts of the UFC higher-ups. While more traditional and veteran fans would perhaps list fantasy bouts like Randy Couture vs. Mirko Cro Cop, modern supporters often name the much-desired and five-time failed booking between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
For the UFC head honcho, the answer is Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko. In 2009, Lesnar had crossed over from professional wrestling and become one of the most imposing and intimidating athletes competing inside the cage, and was coming off a vicious decimation of Frank Mir in his first UFC title defense.
Emelianenko, meanwhile, plyed his trade outside the Octagon, beating Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia under the Affliction banner in his then-recent outings. While White had targeted a monumental headline between the pair in Dallas’ Cowboys Stadium, a deal couldn’t be struck with “The Last Emperor.”
White and Helwani don’t tend to agree on much, but when it comes to the biggest fight that got away, they’re perfectly in sync.
Helwani: “Brock Versus Fedor Would Have Been Gigantic”
During a recent appearance on the TimboSugarShow, hosted by #13-ranked bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley and his coach Tim Welch, Helwani listed some of the biggest bouts that didn’t come to fruition, singling out one as the greatest potential superfight that fell away for the UFC.
While the Canadian journalist named huge contests between Fedor and Randy Couture and Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, as well as an intriguing matchup for prime Ronda Rousey, he pointed to Lesnar and Fedor’s planned collision as the most notable.
“Brock versus Fedor would have been gigantic,” Helwani began. “Randy versus Fedor would have been gigantic. GSP versus Anderson Silva would have been gigantic. Ronda versus Cris Cyborg would have been gigantic, when they were both in their primes.
“If I had to pick the one that would have made the most money, it probably would have been Brock versus Fedor, because the plan was to take that to Cowboys Stadium. That was gonna be a huge, huge deal,” Helwani added. “So, if I had to pick one — and there’s a million that we could choose from — I’d probably go with that one.”
On hand to provide a cutting-edge assessment of that matchup was O’Malley, who laid things out in simple terms…
“That is a big-ass f*cking fight, literally.”
Who do you think would have won if a fight between Fedor and Lesnar came to fruition?