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Who Will Fedor Fight?

It's not as if the heavyweight landscape isn't a bit of a known quantity, but Steve Seivert breaks it down just a tad:

Signing the world's No. 1 ranked heavyweight is a great way for a startup organization to make a big splash. However, with a limited pool of heavyweights not under contract with the UFC, how is M-1 going to make a half-dozen quality fights for the once-beaten Russian?

In the near-term, there aren't many matches that would be blockbusters.

Josh Barnett would appear to be the most likely foe. The 29-year-old American hasn't fought this year, but is still in the conversation when discussing the best heavyweights in the world.

Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva are options, but Fedor has already dispatched of Hunt, and Silva's chin was exposed in a TKO loss to Eric Pele in December. Silva is still too green for a veteran like Fedor.

That brings us to Ben Rothwell. The Miletich-trained fighter says he's interested in testing the free-agent market after a contract dispute over his participation in the International Fight League Grand Prix left his future with the IFL uncertain. This would appear to be an easy fight to make, since Rothwell's agent is none other than M-1 CEO Monte Cox (Cox's agent status wasn't discussed at the press conference, but is a conflict of interest that will have to be addressed).

One point here: Kurt Otto of the IFL believed Monte was causing the IFL problems with the re-signing of Rothwell and Mike Whitehead because he was eying other offers. Turns out they may be right. No one has said much, but there is a serious conflict of interest when the CEO/President of a MMA promotion is also a manager; a manager, with all likelihood, who is going to place his fighters in this organization. Rothwell probably won't re-sign with the IFL because Monte wants to secure him more money/exposure that he believes can come from signing with M-1. That's not the worst of all possible outcomes, but a CEO can potentially use an invisible hand to pressure match-making or signings or more. The CEO can also work to minimize the influence or awareness of other fighters that the promoter/CEO deems a threat. The problem is simple: the CEO of a company obviously wants to invest in their product - fights and fighters - but not by doubling down to an inner circle of fighters that the CEO has a vested interest in protecting above and beyond the rest. I'm honestly shocked at the amount of silence regarding this matter, but maybe the IFL's gripes with Cox are more substantive than I gave them credit.

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