Well. This certainly changes things, doesn’t it? Fedor Emelianenko, the number two fighter in Yahoo’s pound-for-pound rankings, and the subject of contentious negotiations with the UFC, has now signed with Strikeforce. From the Strikeforce press release:
“I am looking forward to going back to work and fighting at the highest level,” said the 33-year-old Emelianenko. During his nine year professional fight career, which included a four and a half year stay with the world’s former top MMA promotion, the now defunct PRIDE Fighting Championship, the Russian native has faced and defeated all comers.
The good: Fedor will fight soon, and he will fight on Showtime, more widely available to average American MMA fans than a pay-per-view. This will definitely bolster Strikeforce’s reputation as a promotion as their willingness to co-promote with M-1 means that they beat out the UFC on getting Fedor. Co-promotion was a sticking point with Fedor and the UFC, as the UFC was willing to give Fedor every demand except for that one. This could also help Strikeforce attract up-and-coming heavyweights, as it seems everyone wants a shot at Fedor.
The bad: In Strikeforce, Fedor will likely face Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum or Brett Rogers. As an MMA fan, I know that they are formidable opponents. But those names do nothing to rouse the interest of a casual fan, and any fight that Strikeforce can make will not get anywhere near the buzz as Fedor vs. Brock Lesnar would have.
By Maggie Hendricks