This Saturday at UFC 116 the world will watch as two men will battle it out to see who the world’s number one heavyweight fighter is…Brock Lesnar or Shane Carwin? And for the first time ever their won’t (or shouldn’t) be any dispute.
This passed Saturday’s Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum event changed the landscape of the heavyweight division when Fedor tapped out to Werdum after just 69 seconds. One big question still remains. Now that Fedor Emelianenko has lost, who will now claim his seat as the number one heavyweight fighter today? That question will be answered in five days.
One thing that is certainly clear coming out of the Strikeforce event is that the promotion and M-1 Global, Fedor’s management company, took a big hit by Fedor losing.
Scott Coker and co. hyped up this fight based on the fact that Fedor is “the best fighter in the world” and “the best heavyweight in the world”. That is no longer the case, and again Strikeforce’s lack of desire to promoted BOTH sides of a match-up has come back to bite them on their backside.
When Jake Shields took on Dan Henderson earlier this year, Strikeforce sold the fight based on the fact that the “MMA Legend” would be making his debut and did little to promote their Champion in Shields. When Shields pulled out a hard fought, well earned decision over Hendo I bet no one was more upset than Strikeforce. They shot themselves in the foot. But with ‘Fedor vs. Werdum’ it was the same old song and dance for Strikeforce. Had they put the time and money into letting the public know exactly who this guy standing across from Fedor is they would have set themselves up to walk out of the event in a win-win situation. And to make it a little bit worse, all signs pointed to a future pay-per-view bout against Strikeforce’s heavyweight Champion, Alistair Overeem, had “The Last Emperor” won on Saturday.
Not gonna happen now.
It appears that Scott Coker is not counting out the idea of a pay-per-view event for his promotion, for good reason obviously, but it will be with a much less anticipated fight as the headliner instead of the sure-fire blockbuster fight that was Overeem vs. Fedor.
Scott Coker post-fight:
“I think more people are going to want to see the rematch. That's how I feel. Fedor Emelianenko is going to come back, and I wouldn't want to be the one to fight him in a rematch. You're going to see him come out with a vengeance. That should be a pay-per-view fight. [Werdum vs. Emelianenko II] is a fight fans are going to want to see. He dethroned the king. To me, Fabricio and Fedor is going to be a mega-fight that we should promote. I also think that Fabricio vs. Alistair, the rematch against our champion, is something Alistair is going to want and would be another big fight. I think that he fight between Fedor and Alistair should still happen, as well. A lot of it is going to depend on what M-1 wants to do. They will have some say.”
Out of Fedor vs. Werdum 2, Overeem vs. Werdum, and Fedor vs. Overeem which sells better for pay-per-view? Pretty obvious I would think.
You may note that Coker mentioned M-1 Global having say in what happens next for Fedor; why would “a lot” depend on “what M-1 wants to do” when they only have “some say”? Who’s really making those decisions? I guess that’s always going to be the question for Strikeforce. Who is really behind the curtain? Who pulls the strings? Because it certainly doesn’t appear to be Scott Coker, the promotions CEO.
Vadim Finkelstein, Fedor’s actual manager, says they’re not exactly going to push forward for a rematch, but is confident in Fedor if that’s what happens to take place:
“We knew that Fabricio Werdum is a very dangerous fighter. Fedor just got caught. He is much stronger than Fabricio Werdum, but it's a fight, so anything can happen. Everyone was sure that Fedor is going to win tonight, but Werdum is the best grappler in the world. If there will be a rematch, which we are not demanding, I am pretty sure that Fedor is going to win next time."
So, how does this loss affect the seemingly never-ending debate about Fedor eventually coming to the UFC? In my opinion, it forces M-1 Global to change up their tactics. They no longer have the leeway of having the pretty much undefeated, number one heavyweight and possibly the best MMA fighter of all time. Now they’re just another management company with just another client. We all know M-1 Global’s number one priority when negotiating for Fedor is to have his fights be co-promoted. The way Co-promotion works is that the two promotions would split any profits down the middle and M-1 Global would get their brand out there every time Fedor fights.
When M-1 Global Director of Oporations, Evgeni Kogan, spoke with “The MMA Hour” recently he claimed what’s most important is for their brand to be pushed.
Their brand took a big hit Saturday when Fedor tapped out to Werdum. Along with him tapping out of the triangle choke, M-1 Global may also have tapped out of any chance of getting on the same bill, with the branding, as the UFC. The fact is they’ll have to change up their negotiations. UFC will laugh in their face if they ask for 50-50 co-promotion now.
I hope this loss rejuvenates Fedor’s desire to establish himself as the best. To be the best he will have no choice but to go to the UFC and take on their top level competition. This loss certainly won’t hurt the fact that people would pay just about anything to see Fedor compete for the UFC. Not to mention what Dana White will pay him.
For now we shall look forward to July 3rd as we all watch as the next number one heavyweight in the world will be crowned.