After his TKO victory over Brett Rogers at the weekend, the question many are now asking is – what’s next for Fedor Emelianenko?
First things first, he has to heal the injuries he sustained during the fight. The good news is that is has now emerged that he did not break his nose in the fight, it was instead just a deep cut (Edit: there are now conflicting reports on this matter from mmaweekly and thelatimes). The bad news is that he also damaged his hand and dislocated his thumb during the main event of the evening.
One thing that has been established is that he will fight twice in the U.S in 2010. Speaking at the pre-fight press conference via his translator he told reporters:
“I’m planning on performing in the United States of America – definitely — next year. I know for sure I’ll have two more fights in the United States next year and then we’ll see how the contract works. Maybe I’ll sign another contract.”
So who is likely to be his next opponent?
There would appear to be two main options at this stage. One would be another fighter who also featured on last night’s Strikeforce card: Fabricio Werdum.
Werdum (13-4-1) defeated Antonio Silva by unanimous decision in a competitive bout to open the evenings televised card and is now 2-0 in Strikeforce.
After the fight he was keen to talk up the idea of a fight with Fedor telling reporters, “its my turn”, and at the post-fight press conference Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker admitted that it may well happen.
“All the options are going to be open at this point, but I do think that fight makes a lot of sense. But we’ll have to wait another couple days. Obviously, they’ll have to sit down and talk to Fedor, and we’ll take it from there. But we’d definitely like to do it. It’d be a great match-up.”
Werdum is unquestionably a very talented ground fighter, but realistically his stand-up is nowhere near Fedors level and he’ll struggle to get in close enough to take him down .
He also lost to Andrei Alrovski in 2007, while both Fedor and Rogers have defeated him in the past year. It would be a surprise if he were the man to break Fedor’s winning streak.
Also, despite his mainstream exposure on Saturday night, Werdum is by no means a big draw or especially marketable, so it’s not a fight that’s going to significantly improve upon the viewing figures that have been reported so far for this weekends event.
The other fighter who Fedor could potentially face is current Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. The dutchman has however gone AWOL from Strikeforce since winning the belt back in November of 2007. In the last two years he has been plying his trade mainly in Japan, fighting a string of relatively weak opponents, leading many to suggest that he is ducking tougher opponents that lie in wait in the US.
As we reported last month, Overeem himself declared that he wanted to fight Fedor after his most recent victory at DREAM 12. He even went as far as to name a date for the event.
“Write this down…I want to fight Fedor…Alistair Overeem wants to fight Fedor, in April 2010.”
Many are still skeptical as to whether this will become a reality however, despite Overeem’s claims. If it did then he could well be seen as the biggest threat to Fedor outside of the UFC roster at this moment in time.
It would also be a fight that would generate significant interest from MMA fans, and being a title fight would add extra weight behind any promotional push that CBS would give to the event.
Finally, at the post fight press conference it also emerged that Strikeforce are poised to bring two new heavyweights to the promotion in the next week or so. At this stage it is not known who they are, though there is much speculation that Andrei Arlovski could be one of them. It is unlikely that he would get a rematch with Fedor right away however. If anything it would make more sense to have him attempt to avenge his loss to Brett Rogers first.
If an Arlovski – Rogers fight did happen then that could set up a potential rematch with Fedor for the winner – a useful back-up plan if a showdown with Overeem proved to be a non-starter in 2010.
As for who the other heavyweight thats set to sign for Strikeforce is? Its really is purely guess work at this stage. A reasonable option for the promotion might be former WWE star Bobby Lashley, but with a record of just 4-0 he is in no way ready to face Fedor yet. In reality it is unlikely that Strikeforce will be able to unveil another readily available heavyweight fighter who could step up to face Fedor right away.
Who Will Be Next?
So, of the options discussed above, who is Fedor most likely to face next? Personally I believe they should seize the opportunity to have Fedor fight Overeem while they can. They have successfully established who Fedor is for the casual viewer – now its time to give him a title shot and look to build upon the ratings from the first show. In the mean time Werdum can get another fight under his belt and hope to establish himself as the man to end Fedor’s dominance.
That being said, All evidence at this stage points to Werdum getting the nod. Speaking to the press in the lead up to the Strikeforce card this weekend Scott Coker sketched out his blueprint for the heavyweight division over the next year.
“You see the match up potential between the winner of the Silva vs. Werdum fight and the winner of the Fedor vs. Rogers fight. I think it would make sense for those two guys to fight each other in the future depending on how things go. Then, Alistair can come in later and fight the winner of that fight.”
Article by RossC
All pictures courtesy of sherdog.com