Yesterday there were numerous reports that M-1 Global were in financial difficulties and were shutting down one of their offices in the wake of Fedor Emelianenko’s first loss.
The company have since strongly denied that’s the case, but in the mean time another potential storm is brewing over the Russian fighter’s next fight – the final one on his current contract with strikeforce.
In the immediate aftermath of Fedor’s shock loss to Fabricio Werdum late last month, M-1 Global execs were calling for an immediate rematch with the Brazilian.
Scott Coker however recently told Sherdog.com that he sees things differently and is interested in seeing the Russian face off against current Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem, as had originally been planned had Fedor not lost to Werdum.
What’s particularly intriguing about this is how the dynamic between M-1 Global and Strikeforce appears to have shifted in the space of just one fight. Whereas previously Coker appeared to bow down to M-1 Global’s demands, it seems that now he feels he can stand his ground.
“We just saw Fedor fight Werdum. I’m not saying we couldn’t do the rematch first,” Coker tells Sherdog.com. “I’m just saying there are a couple of options on the table and the other option would be to fight Alistair…but until we sit down with M-1, these are all just the options…For me, the times have changed and it’s going to be an interesting negotiation now.”
Have M-1 Global really accepted that times have now changed after their bargaining chip – their major clients 10 year unbeaten run in the sport – was devalued overnight though?
An interview carried out by Russian site Sports.Ru with M-1′ co-found Vadim Finkelchtein suggests not.
“We are ready to fight against anyone, but everyone agrees that the most interesting fight right now is the rematch against Fabricio Werdum. We have one fight left on our contract, so if Strikeforce want to extend it – they should listen to our opinion,” Finkelchtein tells the site (Translation by Lowkick.)
Another layer of intrigue to this developing storyline was noted by MMAfighting’s Michael David Smith today.
He points out that since Fedor is not currently the title holder, he is not subject to a ‘champions clause’ which would keep him with the Strikeforce promotion while he still held the belt.
Therefore it’s in Strikeforce’s best interests for him to fight for the title against Overeem so that they can retain his services via the champions clause if he wins. On the other hand it’s in M-1’s best interests for him to steer clear of a title fight, allowing them to shop Fedor around to other promotions as soon as his final bout with Strikeforce is completed.
So it appears that both parties are currently busy drawing lines in the sand, and it’ll be interesting to see who eventually comes out on top.
Meanwhile Finkelchtein appears to have now opened the door further for Fedor to potentially sign with the UFC at the conclusion of his current contract.
In his interview with Sports.Ru he stated his belief that an agreement with the UFC could be reached, and that they would be willing to back down on their insistence that co-promotion would have to be part of the deal.
Ironically their change of heart comes just as UFC president Dana White appears to have lost interest in signing Fedor, something that at one stage he admitted had become an obsession.
“I’m not interested,” White said at the UFC 116 pre-fight press conference last week. “Now that he [Fedor] loses, they want to say ‘we’ll come over’ because he lost? I’m done playing games.”
If there’s one thing we know about White though it’s that he loves to get one over on his rivals, as he’s proven recently by luring Strikeforce’s middleweight champion Jake Shields to the UFC.
While he might deny it now, if Fedor does win the final fight on his contract with Strikeforce then bringing him into the UFC’s heavyweight mix and depriving his closest rival of their biggest star may prove to be too good an opportunity to miss.