Last week news broke that Fedor Emelianenko had been released from his Strikeforce contract with one fight remaining on the deal. This came on the heels of losses to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson in his last three fights. Despite some posturing that his deal was with Showtime and not Strikeforce, it was clear that he would not be back fighting under the Zuffa banner any time soon (if ever). Now a press release from M-1 Global answers the "will he retire?" question:
"We consulted with Fedor and it was decided that he should not leave the sport in this way. His friends and past opponents support Fedor in continuing his career and he agreed," said Finkelstein. "We want to organize a fight for Fedor in Russia and have already begun working in this direction. If everything goes as planned, we will produce a card in Moscow or St. Petersburg sometime in the fall with Fedor as the main event." The opponent is yet to be determined.
More plans are also in the mix according to Finkelstein, "In addition to the fight in Russia, we're also working with our Japanese contacts to organize a New Year's Eve event in Japan that Fedor would participate in as well."
When asked about 2012 Finkelstein spoke optimistically; "If all is successful, in 2012 we'll be back in the U.S. All these ideas are being developed right now and we want to work exactly according to this plan."
"Putting together a fight in Russia" would suggest that those who figured Fedor's future would include fighting in the M-1 Global ring are correct. The problem is making that fight widely available to U.S. fight fans. They could do an independent pay-per-view but the chances of it being successful in drawing eyes would be low.
I'm not sure where in the United States he'd be fighting in 2012 other than possibly in another M-1 Global show which may be broadcast on Showtime. But still, we're talking about a lack of appealing opponents and a near impossibility for them to draw money and ratings.
The one path to a major fight is likely to get Fedor a few easy wins in Russia and Japan before attempting to cash in on an Alistair Overeem fight. Of course, Zuffa could always undercut those talks once they get going by making nice with Golden Glory and getting Overeem back in the fold.