In mother Russia, rumor spreads you.
Not since Mikey's stomach exploded from drinking soda with Pop Rocks has a man been the subject of so many recurring rumors. Today it was "reported" by LifeSports.ru that famed Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko had his contract terminated by Zuffa.
Which sounds like quite a feat considering his contract belongs to the Showtime network.
That means that Strikeforce is stuck with "The Last Emperor" until 2014 when the Showtime agreement expires -- or until Emelianenko satisfies the remaining fights in his current deal (whichever comes first).
Zuffa, the parent company of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), recently became the new owners of Strikeforce and everything that came with it in a blockbuster acquisition that went down earlier this month.
That includes the relationship between Strikeforce, Showtime and M-1 Global.
Simply put, Fedor is here to stay. M-1 Global's Evgeni Kogan explains why (via Bloody Elbow):
"It's unfortunate that the site (LifeSports.ru) has shown little to no journalistic integrity; this is also not the first time their writers have fabricated a story to create attention. Quite simply, it should be ignored. Should there ever be a change in Fedor's status, rest assured that M-1 would provide an official position."
Despite a somber and premature post-fight retirement speech following his Feb. 12 shellacking at the hands of Brazilian "Bigfoot" Antonio Silva, Emelianenko is expected to return to the Strikeforce cage this summer.
From Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker (via Sherdog.com):
"Fedor's gonna fight sometime in July. It's probably toward the end of July or mid-July, but we have fights with Fedor that we're gonna honor and continue forward. We're gonna do the co-branding exercise that we do with M-1 every time we do fights with them. The opponent has not been chosen, but I think having Fedor involved close to the tournament as an alternate is definitely a possibility. You gotta perform. I think he did a good job against Silva, and that worked out the way he did, but he's still a competitive fighter that can compete at the highest level on any given Saturday night. I think this next one's gonna be very important. He's gonna have to perform."
Fedor Emelianenko is returning to Strikeforce, but against who?
The Showtime network has always maintained a certain level of creative control over the event broadcasts (and Emelianenko's contract) and it may want to get the most from its investment as possible, which means keeping him above water until he no longer proves to be ratings-worthy.
And that's a distinct possibility if the former PRIDE champion drops three straight. However, if he wants to go out guns blazing, there's always that Dan Henderson superfight waiting for him at 205-pounds.