Several major sources in the MMA media are reporting that Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko has officially been signed. Details are sketchy but it is being reported that the fight would reportedly go down on July 30 Strikeforce Chicago show.
Henderson vs. Fedor would give Strikeforce its biggest fight in company history, at least on paper. The fight brings together two of the most recognizable names in MMA. The bout would mark the first bout between two of the biggest MMA stars of the last decade. It is not confirmed as to whether this event will air live on television or wind up as a Strikeforce pay-per-view.
[adinserter block=”1″]Even bigger than the actual fight is the idea that Dana White is finally working with those “crazy Russians.” Now I have no idea how involved White was on the negotiations, but he has always been adamant that he would never co-promote with Fedor’s management team M-1 Global. However Zuffa will indeed co-promote the event with M-1 Global which is really a gigantic breakthrough in the relationship between White, UFC, Zuffa, and M-1.
There is no confirmation as to what the actual terms of the fight would be. It was reported a few weeks back that the fight would be at heavyweight, but with a cap at 220. Henderson has since said that he didn’t need the cap and would take the fight as a straight heavyweight. Henderson has held championships at middleweight and light heavyweight, but this would be his first MMA heavyweight fight.
Josh Gross of ESPN.com reports that Henderson has a clause in his contract that stipulates if Strikeforce does not offer him a fight by the end of July that he would his contract would be voided. With Zuffa now owning Strikeforce I can’t imagine how much negotiating power he’d have as a free agent but that clause likely helped speed up negotiations in the last few weeks.
You couldn’t find two fighters going in completely opposite directions in Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko. Henderson would be taking a two fight winning streak into the bout. Henderson is coming off back to back knockouts (technically a TKO vs. Sobral). In his last fight, Henderson knocked out Rafael Feijao Cavalcante in the third round to win the Strikeforce light heavyweight title. At age 40, what Henderson is doing is nothing short of remarkable in my opinion.
Fedor’s train on the other hand has taken a much different road in Strikeforce. After signing the biggest contract with the company, Fedor has gone 1-2 in Strikeforce. Fedor was tapped for the first time in his career by Fabricio Werdum and lost via TKO in the opening round of the Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament to Antonio Silva. Fedor was heavily favored in both fights which made the losses that much more devastating.
I am pretty surprised that Fedor took this fight. It is an absolute no-win for the Last Emperor. If Fedor beats Henderson, well it was unfair because he fought a light heavyweight. If Fedor loses to Henderson, Fedor is done because a light heavyweight at 40 beat him. Unless Fedor was dropping down to light heavyweight to compete for the championship, I can’t imagine any gains that would come from this for Fedor and his team.
[adinserter block=”1″]For Dan Henderson, it is a win-win all the way around for the champion. If Henderson loses, well he moved up in class, took a fight against a legend, and gave it his all. If Henderson wins, he immediately becomes a legend and probably winds up in some kind of UFC Super Fight at some point. Henderson’s belt won’t be at stake so even with a loss, he returns to a championship headline fight in Strikeforce in a few months.
As big as this fight is, I don’t know how they would sell it as a pay per view. There aren’t a lot of great fights available for the undercard. The July date could eliminate any Grand Prix heavyweight fights. The final fights of the opening round won’t even be two months old by the time July 30 rolls around. That would theoretically take them off of the table. Nick Diaz isn’t likely fighting anytime soon. Gina Carano is booked for June. Cris Cyborg and Gilbert Melendez could fight underneath, but I think you’d need a UFC fight or two on the show to sell it to a casual MMA audience.
The official fight announcement is expected in the next 24-72 hours.
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