Fedor Emelianenko to Strikeforce, Dana White Not Amused
"The Last Emperor" Once Again Eludes the UFC
After a week of heated speculation and rampant discussions, former Affliction headliner and WAMMA Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko, long regarded as the best fighter on the planet, has finally found himself a home now that Affliction is out of the promotional game and back as a UFC sponsor.
Unfortunately for fans salivating for Fedor/Lesnar and other potential dream match-ups, that home won’t be with the UFC.
It was announced today that “The Last Emperor” has signed with Strikeforce, the little-promotion-that-could that had quickly emerged as the #3 promotion in the US after Affliction and the UFC, and now holds the #2 spot by default. Relatively unknown until the collapse of Elite Xtreme Combat allowed them to beef up their roster and get on Showtime (with a possible CBS show hinted at), Strikeforce has been doing all the right things since capitalizing on the fallout of Elite XC. It now seems to be doing all the right things once again, as the addition of Fedor Emelianenko to the Strikeforce roster can only be considered an astonishing success.
The exact details of the deal are not fully disclosed yet, but it seems that co-promotion has won out over the almighty dollar. In his talks with the UFC, Fedor Emelianenko and his management team, M-1 Global, have gone on record stating that there is no Fedor without M-1 Global, and there is no M-1 Global without co-promotion. The UFC balked at a possible “UFC and M-1 Global Presents…” night of fights, instead offering Fedor an amount of money that UFC President Dana White claimed would never be matched. Talks stalled and seemed to be going nowhere. Strikeforce seemingly had no problem with co-promoting a Fedor-headlined fight card, so a deal was reached.
Vadim Finkelchtein, President of M-1 Global, released the following statement:
“I am very happy and excited about the upcoming collaboration with Strikeforce. We are very pleased that we found a reliable partner and I feel that Strikeforce and M-1 can support each other on many things. This will create big opportunities for both parties to test their fighters against worthy opponents.”
And here’s what the man himself, Fedor Emelianenko, had to say.
“I am looking forward to going back to work and fighting at the highest level. Strikeforce is a top fight promotion that houses some of the greatest fighters in the world. I am prepared to fight any of them.”
While nothing is for certain yet, Fedor is tentatively expected to debut Fall 2009, presumably in a championship contest with current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem. Possible matches with Fabricio Werdum and Brett Rogers are also setting the rumor mills ablaze, as is the possibility of Fedor headlining the first “Strikeforce on CBS” outing.
Shortly thereafter, Dana White released his own statement regarding the entire situation. Always controversial, here’s what Dana had to say.
”…Fedor is a (expletive deleted) joke. He turns down a huge deal and the opportunity to face the best in the world to fight nobodies, for no money. Fedor is a (expletive deleted)!”
Whether he likes it or not, the fighter that has eluded him for years has just signed on with a promotion that could use this momentum to put a card on national television. Both organizations have, so far, adopted a “play nice” attitude with one another, but could this change things? Only time will tell if the UFC takes this one lying down or launches an offensive to prove that, despite no longer having the opportunity to make truckloads of money with a possible Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar mega-super-fight, they are the ones holding the keys to MMA supremacy.