On an historic night of high drama that bore witness to the end of Fedor Emelianenko’s remarkable 10 year undefeated reign at the very top of the sport of mixed martial arts, it’s Strikeforce and M-1 Global who may have lost the most.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker had in fact predicted before the fight that just such a result may take place, warning reporter’s not to take Werdum lightly.
Whether he genuinely believed it or was just voicing his paranoia is hard to say. You certainly couldn’t blame him if it was the latter as things seemed to be going a little too smoothly heading into this fight.
Strikeforce champ Alistair Overeem was back in the fold and calling for a fight with the Russian, while M-1 Global finally seemed willing to discuss the possibility of such a fight taking place. It was set to be the biggest fight in the history of the promotion and perhaps be the perfect platform for a foray into the pay-per-view market.
That’s where Werdum stepped in, and sixty nine seconds after the bell sounded sent Strikeforce’s best laid plans straight into the trash-can.
They are now left promoting a Werdum Vs Overeem title fight which is not pay-per-view worthy, and CBS will also be bidding a hasty retreat from any talk of a third outing on network television for the promotion.
It’s not the end of the world for the promotion. Fedor still has one fight left on his contract and there will be a lot of interest in seeing whether he can get back on track again, particularly amongst the hardcore fan-base.
So much of Fedor’s success has been built around his unbeaten record though, and with that mystique now gone it will now be a tougher task to market the enigmatic fighter to a casual audience.
It’s a tough break for Strikeforce who have always been short of genuine star power. Former UFC fighter Dan Henderson had been brought in to help in that regard but he didn’t perform well in the cage or in the ratings, while Gina Carano is currently embarking on a film career and has given no indication of having a desire to return to the cage.
Meanwhile M-1 Global will also be licking their wounds after this result. They have essentially built their company around Fedor and his unparalleled record so this is a particularly crushing blow for them.
They’ve used his success to leverage themselves into co-promotional deals and demand vast sums of money from those who wish to acquire his services, but though he’s still a superstar of the sport, there’s no doubt that Fedor’s value, and as a result M-1 Global’s, has dropped significantly overnight.
Their handling of Fedor and strong-arm negotiation tactics has won them few fans in recent years and their decision to put all their eggs into one basket may well now come back to haunt them.