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Fedor Emelianenko staying with Strikeforce

Fedor Emelianenko is staying with StrikeforceAfter being unable to make a deal with Fedor Emelianenko for the last four years, Dana White finally has Fedor under contract. Dana White has called signing Fedor an “obsession.” The next question is whether Fedor is just as excited about the news as his new boss is?

Once Dana White announced the Zuffa LLC purchase of Strikeforce by the parent company of the UFC, the talk immediately began about Strikeforce fighters and Super Fights. White has said he will honor all of the current Strikeforce contract and is open to Super Fights. One Strikeforce fighter’s future immediately became the topic of conversation. Will Fedor Emelianenko stay or go now that he has to report to Dana White? M1 says he is staying.

Let’s be honest. We can talk about potential UFC Super Fights and the other usual questions that come with this purchase but the yellow elephant in the room is Fedor Emelianenko. He may be on the first losing streak of his career, but some would argue that he is the most valuable commodity in Strikeforce. His last fight shattered previous Showtime records and whether Dana White said so publicly before or not, he definitely noticed.

The relationship between Dana White and Fedor’s management company M1 Global has been anything but good. Dana White has publicly referred to Fedor’s M1 team as “crazy Russians,” the “worst management in fight history”, and my favorite came after Fedor’s last loss when he tweeted, “M1 = M done! What did I tell you Vadummy!!”

M1 didn’t find those statements, particular the last tweet too amusing. M1 director Evengi Kogan responded on his twitter, “@danawhite easy to be a prick tweeting on your phone, isn’t it? Come see us and say it to Vadim’s face – we’re in ‘Jersey, coward.”

Today the same M1 director Evengi Kogan who was challenging Dana White to meet face to face a month ago told reporters that Fedor and M1 would continue their obligations with Strikeforce. “Fedor’s contract is with Showtime Networks Inc. and we’re excited to be working with such a premium North American outlet,” Kogan told MMAWeekly.

Whether Dana White likes M1 personally or not, there is going to be a lot of pressure to keep Fedor and M1 happy for the duration of their Strikeforce contract. White told reporters at the press conference that Strikeforce is under contract with Showtime until 2014. Reportedly, Showtime does have a say in the matchups and they aren’t going to be very happy if they are unable to promote their biggest ratings draw due to a personality conflict with his new boss.

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Knowing that the UFC parent company Zuffa, LLC was close to buying Strikeforce makes Dana White post-Fedor loss comments more puzzling than anything else. Why would Dana White verbally attack a fighter who he was likely going to have under contract in a month? Why would Dana White verbally attack a company that he would have to meet at some point face to face to do business with? I can’t imagine the Fertitta brothers being to happy about those events knowing that they were negotiating for Fedor’s contract (along with every other Strikeforce fighter).

Whether Fedor fights in the UFC or not is an entirely different blog altogether. I don’t care whether Fedor lost two matches or three matches in a row, Fedor vs. Brock is a huge UFC vs. Strikeforce Super Fight and could be the biggest fight in the history of MMA. With Fedor under contract, that fight is on the table although the chances are that it won’t be happening anytime in the near future.

Fedor still has three fights left on his Strikeforce contract. With most of the obvious heavyweights tied up in the Grand Prix Heavyweight tournament, there aren’t many options right now for Fedor’s next fight. One option is to move a heavyweight over from the UFC like the Frank Mir vs. Roy Nelson loser or Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira over to Strikeforce and make those fights with Fedor. Another option is the much talked about Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko Strikeforce light heavyweight title fight. Either way there are plenty more options now on the table than before the Strikeforce-UFC deal.

“The purchase of Strikeforce doesn’t affect M-1 at all. Our TV deal is with Showtime and we’re happy. It’s business as usual for M-1 Global, as we close into our March 25th event, ” said the M1 director.

Dana White has openly expressed his reservations about co-promoting with M1 Global in the past. As of March 14, he will have that chance. The ball is back in his court and it is up to him to make it happen.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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