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Everyone in MMA, Including Dana White and the UFC, Lost When Fedor Emelianenko Tapped Out to Fabricio Werdum

Strikeforce's Scott Coker was a big loser tonight. He lost his best and possibly only chance to mount a lucrative Strikeforce PPV. Steve Cofield explains:

What's next for Fedor? He appeared to be on a collision course with Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem. That had the making of the biggest non-UFC fight in the history of the sport from a viewership standpoint. Now Overeem would have to get Werdum next, leaving Fedor with no one intriguing left to fight with just one bout left on his Strikeforce contract. Emelianenko told Showtime play-by-play voice Gus Johnson that he had every intent of returning to America to fight again for Strikeforce.

Werdum (14-4-1) made some interesting comments during the postfight itnerview in the cage, saying he wanted to fight Fedor again and would wait for his chance to fight the champ Overeem.

This reinforces my conviction that there is no win in trying to build up mega-fights in MMA. Strikeforce should have booked Fedor vs Overeem at their earliest possible opportunity. Fabricio Werdum may be dangerous enough to tap out any heavyweight in MMA on any given night, but he'll never be a major star. If Alistair Overeem had beaten Fedor, Strikeforce would have a hot property on their hands instead of a bunch of damaged goods.

Dana White may be gloating, but his UFC lost big tonight too. Dana lost the chance to promote the really big one, the Fedor vs UFC champ Brock Lesnar fight that has been teasing fans as a possibility since UFC 100. Dana will have plenty of nice pay days in his near future, but nothing remotely as big as Fedor vs Brock would have been.

Dave Meltzer lays it out:

The stunning upset alters the short-, medium- and long-term future at the top of the heavyweight division.

Emelianenko has one fight left on his Strikeforce contract. While one loss does not kill his marketability to UFC or Strikeforce down the line, it greatly diminishes the leverage of his promotional company, M-1 Global, when it is time to negotiate his next contract.

Had Emelianenko finished his contract unscathed, he would have been able to walk in and face whomever held the UFC heavyweight championship, and it would have been the biggest fight in the history of the sport.

The Russian's loss leaves next Saturday's UFC heavyweight title fight between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin as the match to determine the world's No. 1 heavyweight.

Fedor's management team M-1 Global played a miserable hand coming into this fight. Rather than locking in a chance to follow up Fedor's hit debut on CBS last fall with an April CBS follow up, they elected to hold out over some rather vague co-promotional stuff and Fedor lost on Showtime instead of on CBS. It's like the classic "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound" riddle. If MMA's greatest fighter loses in the biggest upset in the sport's history and it's on Showtime does the media notice? 

Jim Murphy of Savage Science has the answer:

This sure doesn't say much for MMA being anything close to a ‘mainstream sport' yet. In the wake of one of the more shocking upsets in the sport's history the mainstream media doesn't notice. At 9:44 Pacific ESPN doesn't mention it at all, CBS Sportsline picks up a Bleacher Report story. Dana White is no doubt chortling over Fedor's loss, but the mainstream media apathy just underscores that MMA is still a niche sport-a fact that impacts the UFC as much as every other promotion.

You might be thinking that it's actually good for Fedor and M-1 that they lost on Showtime and not in a more high profile venue. Nope. Had Fedor lost in a mega fight on CBS, there would be healthy interest in a rematch. As it is, Fedor, Strikeforce and especially M-1 are in limbo. The rematch is probably their best bet, as Josh Gross has tweeted. But it's so much less than could have been.

And as for the triumphalists, I'll let Subo speak:

There will never be a #1 ranked fighter outside of Zuffa's umbrella ever again. The consistent arguments for co-promotion - dispersed talent, ambiguity as to who was really the best - are now nullified. As of July 3rd, the #1 heavyweight (Lesnar/Carwin), light heavyweight (Shogun), middleweight (Silva), welterweight (GSP) and lightweight (Edgar/Penn/Florian/Maynard) in the world will be in the UFC. The #1 135er and 145ers will be in the WEC, though I'd like to see Warren and Fernandes there, among others. There will never be another debate over who is #1 at a weight class - it will be whomever holds Zuffa's belt.

That's huge. It's never been that way in a combat sport, let alone mixed martial arts. We're going to get superfights, relevant divisional stylistically appealing match-ups, fighters are going to make more money and be more popular, and the mainstream media will find it easier to follow one league instead of many.

I don't think my good buddy is old enough to remember when American thinkers proclaimed the end of history with the fall of the USSR. If he was, he'd probably temper his Zuffa triumphalism. If Shane Carwin KTFO's Brock Lesnar next Saturday, they're out their charismatic and dominant heavyweight champ. With Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos waiting in the wings for the winner, they may be entering a period of revolving heavyweight champs as well. That's never good for business.

The more likely scenario is that the UFC will continue to soldier along and consolidate their growth for the next decade or so while working to ensure that Dana White remains the only household name in the sport. This will entail working to prevent any fighter from becoming the Michael Jordan, Bruce Lee or Muhammad Ali of MMA. 

But that's just one flaw in his thinking. The bigger one is this -- Zuffa is a single company run by a group of men with some very questionable business and family history. Anyone familiar with the fall of PRIDE or Station Casinos will be a little uncomfortable at the idea of all of MMA being under the sole control of any single company, much less this one.

A lot of things can go wrong and big hegemonic empires are actually quite vulnerable to sudden collapse. Just like the Last Emperor was. 

HT Fightlinker


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