Three sad pandas. Photo by Esther Lin via Showtime Sports
In the aftermath of the biggest upset in MMA history, there's been a ton of speculation about what's next.
Here's Jake Rossen:
Next for Emelianenko: Werdum, or Antonio Silva.
Next for Werdum: Emelianenko, or Alistair Overeem; a locker-room bonus from an ecstatic White.
Here's Tomas Rios:
Fabricio Werdum vs. Fedor Emelianenko II
Let's be honest here: Emelianenko's management team makes Scott Boras look like a pushover.
With that in mind, Strikeforce's best bet is to give Emelianenko a rematch with Werdum rather than jump through hoops for a few months trying to make a bout with Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem a reality. The other issue is that pitting either Emelianenko or Werdum against Overeem lacks the cache at this moment to generate the hype and revenue Strikeforce needs it to.
Besides, after more than seven years as the sport's pre-eminent heavyweight, Emelianenko at least deserves the opportunity to avenge his first loss in nearly a decade.
The Winner vs. Alistair Overeem
Werdum didn't just tip over the apple cart. He went at it with an adamantium axe and shot the pieces through a particle accelerator.
This leaves Overeem in a difficult position: A fight with Werdum won't pack seats like a bout with Emelianenko would, but a bout with Emelianenko makes no sense right now. Painful as it may sound, the best move for Strikeforce is to get two high-profile heavyweight bouts out of this disaster instead of just one.
Scott Coker says he'd love to promote Fedor vs Werdum in three months but he also acknowledges the many business difficulties in booking that fight.
Werdum says Alistair Overeem is a "step backwards", talking to Tatame.com:
"No, they told me they'd see (about the rematch), so let's enjoy this win and maybe they'll have me confront Overeem, but let's see," Werdum said. "I just beat the best of the world, I don't want to take a step backwards and fight against Overeem. I want to fight against Fedor in 6 to 8 months from now in Russia, Rocky Balboa style."
Meanwhile, Alistair Overeem tells FIGHT magazine he wants Werdum. But he doesn't seem to think he'll ever get his crack at Fedor. He speculates Fedor may retire soon and also recognizes the difficulties of doing biz with M-1 Global.
Fedor says he wants a rematch. What do the two savviest pundits in MMA think? What does this dumbass think? Find out in the full entry.
"I completely agree (that Fedor vs Werdum 2 should be booked) and I expressed that opinion to them tonight because it was like the original thought of Scott Coker was Werdum against Overeem since that was you know the whole idea of this fight was the winner fights Overeem but when you sit down and think about it, you know and you weigh the options, the fact is that of the three the money guy is still Fedor. You know, I mean, even though he lost. And if you have Werdum beating Fedor a second time and then fighting Overeem, OK, that's fine. But if you go with Werdum and Overeem next, if Werdum wins you probably can do Werdum and Fedor but you'd almost to put Fedor against somebody like Kharitonov to win to get a championship fight you know shot. Maybe not. But if Overeem were to beat Werdum you'd have Overeem and Fedor in a sense but you know everybody would complain unless Fedor got a win so you're, it's just to me it's better business to go with you know I mean let's face it, more people of all the fights the fight that people want to see is Werdum/Fedor re-match so that's where I would go and the winner of that against Overeem or maybe put Overeem against you know somebody if you want to put him against you know Kharitonov or I don't know who, there's really no competition for him and you know but that's certainly how you know if you want to do the CBS thing, you know with if CBS comes back and this show helped greatly in that regard, I mean it's not like it's a done deal or anything like that but this show was certainly a positive for Strikeforce getting back on CBS, that if you could get you know a show with you know Fedor against Werdum, Overeem against someone, just so Overeem gets on the show, and you know two other fights perhaps you know I mean perhaps a Herschel Walker in there or a Bobby Lashley or something, you know, I mean Bobby Lashley/Dave Batista you know which is certainly been heavily talked about. You put that, that's actually a pretty damn good ratings show right there, pretty damn good. It would be record-breaking."
"I can't think of a worse thing to say, both for him and for Strikeforce. The fight they want to sell is against Overeem, he's already beat Overeem once, I'm sure they would like to put that fight together. They gave Overeem an on-camera interview, they showed him immediately after the fight. They're clearly trying to build towards it and the guy just turns around, NO, I want to fight Fedor again."
He also heaps scorn on the Strikeforce heavyweight division:
"Yeah. That whole division seemed hinged on Fedor Emelianenko at this point in time. The people, what people are going to extrapolate by in large, unfortunately, and it's not really, it's kind of disingenuous, there's people going to look at Werdum getting ousted from the UFC as a guy who had to bitchslap Andrei Arlovski and couldn't beat him to getting plunked by Junior dos Santos and just go, well, the UFC Heavyweights are better now. They have these young lions and they've far usurped guys like Overeem and Werdum and Fedor Emelianenko. I suspect that will be the narrative and frankly, I think for instance I was most interested before this fight in seeing a guy like Cain Velasquez fight Fedor Emelianenko but what's more important now is even if ultimately the truth is Werdum is still a good heavyweight and could beat some decent guys in the UFC, same for Overeem and same for Emelianenko. The sense that Fedor Emelianenko is all-encompassing and all-powerful is definitely done and now the idea's simply going to be, well the UFC is where all the best guys are and if you're not there, well, then you're really, really missing out."
Personally, I expect that Meltzer has a better feel for the business realities of the situation and that Fedor vs Werdum 2 is the money match that will be made. Werdum is talking about doing it in Russia, and I assume that Strikeforce's co-promotion deal would allow M-1 Global to put that fight on in Moscow. But there's no money to be made doing that so it won't happen.
As a fight fan, I'm far more interested in seeing Fedor fight Overeem than in either Fedor/Werdum 2 or Overeem/Werdum 2. I know Fedor ought to get a win first, but who would Overeem fight in the meantime? Here's an idea -- why not have Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett fight?
The real tragedy in all this to me is putting Alistair Overeem back on the shelf. This is a man who needs to be fighting TOP competition ASAP. I fear that Strikeforce's championship clause may keep him out of the UFC no matter what happens. That's a real loss. I'm not as interested in seeing Fedor mauled by the new breed of UFC giants, but I would like to see Werdum get a crack at Lesnar, Carwin, et al because I think he's got an excellent chance to tap out Lesnar. Seems less likely that he'd beat Carwin or Cain or JDS in a rematch.
Like Jonathan Snowden, I do like the idea of Fedor at 205 fighting in the UFC. I'd love to see Fedor vs Anderson Silva or Shogun Rua or Lyoto Machida in the worst way. Yes Fedor would be surrendering the speed advantage that's been his secret weapon at heavyweight. But is he really faster than Brock Lesnar? Cain Velasquez? Junior Dos Santos? Alistair Overeem?