It’s fair to say that Fedor Emelianenko Vs Fabricio Werdum wasn’t the fight most people wanted to see next, but still you’d think that the chance of seeing the Russian force of nature at work would be enough to shift tickets for the June 26th event in San Jose.
There’s also the fact that San Jose resident Cung Le, who historically has been a big draw in the region, will also be fighting on the card in a rematch with Scott Smith.
Yet rumors persist that Californian fans aren’t exactly snapping up tickets in their droves, a fact that UFC president Dana White was quick to point out this fact last week.
“[Strikeforce has] sold 4,000 tickets to the (June 26) Fedor fight,” White told MMAJunkie. “That fight is in a couple of weeks. Nobody gives a [expletive], and nobody is going to give a [expletive] about Fedor until he gets in here and fights the best fighters in the world.”
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker appeared to have a different set of figures when asked about sales for the event at the conference call for the event a few days later though.
“Ticket sales are going well. We have 10,000 sold. We have a great fan base in San Jose and the Bay Area,” he said before going on to add that he hoped the event would sell-out by the 26th.
You’d imagine Coker would know better than White in this instance, but The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer threw a spanner in the works when he suggested that Coker’s figure may be a little high, noting that, “you can get 20 tickets in the same row together in the cheapest price range, and those are usually the first tickets to sell out for big MMA events.”
So there’s now becoming so many conflicting opinions on the subject that it’s hard to know who to believe.
I’d be very surprised if the sales turn out to be as abysmal as Dana White suggested, particularly in a historically strong market for the promotion like San Jose, but there’s no smoke without fire so it does appear that sales have not been as strong as anticipated. How much so remains to be seen.
It’s not good news for Strikeforce who are believed to be paying Fedor vast sums of money and therefore will be looking for a strong gate to help recoup their costs. With the event also airing on Showtime rather than CBS and the UFC counter-programming with a re-airing of UFC 113 on Spike TV it’s hardly ideal circumstances for the promotion.
The real worry surrounding this event though, and the one that you won’t find Strikeforce officials discussing publicly, is the possibility of Fedor losing. If he does then that would jeopardize the biggest fight in the promotions history – a Fedor Vs Overeem title fight, and their ambitious plans to use that fight as a stepping stone into the PPV market.