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Strikeforce's Prodigal Star Fedor Emelianenko Returns

With friends like these... <em>Photo by <a href="" target="new">Esther Lin</a> via <a href="" target="new">Showtime</a>.</em>
With friends like these... Photo by Esther Lin via Showtime.

Dave Meltzer has more on yesterday's announcement that Fedor will be returning to Strikeforce in June and will fight Fabricio Werdum:

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker had attempted to get the match for the April 17 CBS show, but negotiations weren't finalized in time. Coker said Tuesday that he didn't want to discuss the nature of the holdup or the deal. M-1 Global had complained there was not enough promotional emphasis put on M-1 Global on the November show.

Other sources noted M-1 Global wasn't happy with its share of the total profits that came out of the November show, since the rights fees paid by CBS are not equivalent to the revenue potential of pay-per-view.


Emelianenko (32-1, 1 no contest) was a surprise guest on April 25 at a show in Tokyo, where he told fans that he would definitely be fighting in Japan again. But the decline of both the Japanese and South Korean MMA market and M-1's inability to score a big contract in those nations led to Emelianenko's U.S. return. With CBS not having any summer MMA dates scheduled, it will be Emelianenko's first appearance on Showtime.

Coker indicated Emelianenko would be with Strikeforce well past the June 26 fight.

I really have to wonder what exactly M-1 Global gained by Fedor holding out on Strikeforce's CBS show in April. They missed an opportunity to expose Fedor to several million American fans and they really hurt their "promotional partner" by sitting out a CBS card when Fedor clearly would have drawn many more viewers than Dan Henderson or Jake Shields. 

The only way I can imagine a scenario where this outcome was to Fedor's advantage is this: Fedor's management has always been careful about who he fights. He famously delayed fighting Cro Cop as long as possible in 2003. Perhaps they deliberately wanted to delay the Fabricio Werdum bout in the hopes that Strikeforce or DREAM would book a tough fight for Alistair Overeem and they would have more opportunity to scout Overeem against serious competition. And if Overeem were to lose, all the better for Fedor.

I also have zero doubt that Fedor and M-1 had Strikeforce over even more of a barrel after concerns that Mayhem Miller, Nick Diaz, and Gilbert Melendez are all facing likely suspension by the Tennessee Athletic Commission. They've already announced that Nick won't be fighting on the card and have booked Robbie Lawler in a catch-weight bout with Babalu Sobral instead of Mayhem Miller.

D.W. of Head Kick Legend thinks that Strikeforce's Fedor problem is far from solved:

So the news is Fedor is to fight on Strikeforce's ill-fated June card (the one where Nick Diaz, Mayhem Miller, etc. can't appear due to the brawl) and that M-1 Global, Fedor Emelianenko and Strikeforce have come to terms on a contract. Doesn't this all seem a bit too familiar to everybody? Haven't we been down this road before? I think the real question that needs to be asked here is; didn't this happen before? Never before have I seen a MMA company in a position like Strikeforce, where the talent could simply after one fight decide their contract was void and re-enter into negotiations with them. What it does seem like is that Coker and Strikeforce had to do a lot of bending to get Fedor to fight for them again.

I ... get the impression that Strikeforce still doesn't really have Fedor locked down, that we'll get this fight and then probably see this whole process repeat over and over again. One has to really wonder, is this all really worth all of the hassle, or should Strikeforce try to stand up for themselves? From an outsider's perspective it really looks like Scott Coker has completely lost control of the charming NoCal company that would fill up an arena in San Jose once in a while to network executives and Russian management companies.

If D.W. is right -- and another D.W., ie Dana White, insists he is -- then Scott Coker has lost control of the Strikeforce train.

More BE coverage of Strikeforce on Showtime in June

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