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Shockers and Understatements

July 12, 2010

Wow, lots of MMA news today.

Now that I’ve lost at least half of you, let’s continue.  1) First things first: your shocker of the day, courtesy of Rashad Evans:

On facing Machida again, possibly in an interim title bout while they wait for champion Mauricio Rua to heal from knee injury:

“I would like to fight him [again] but I had to [win] two fights to get back to being the number one contender: Thiago and Rampage. I don’t see why he should not have to fight anybody and get a chance to  fight for his belt back. I think maybe he should go and fight a fight and then come back and we’ll do it like that. Him and like Rampage both lost. Maybe they should fight each other. I think there’s a lot of good light heavyweights he could fight. There’s somebody he could fight to get his footing back, get his style back and get his feeling back again, but I think when you make us fight each other right now, you eliminate two top competitors. If I fight him and one of us loses and has to go back down, that only leaves room for one of us to go forward. It leaves a gap.”

Yeah, there’s nothing fight fans want to see more than two guys who haven’t fought in eight months duke it out in a bout riddled with ring rust and injury-prompted tentativeness.  Total bombshell, though — I most definitely didn’t see it coming.  Sorry, Rashad: nobody’s buying it.  Next!

2) What’s the telltale sign a bush-league organization?

While the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division is clearly mapped out, their stateside counterparts are unsure how their 265-pound class will unfold. Although Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has a plethora of scenarios to play with, there’s one match-up in particular that tops his list.

“My feeling is maybe Fedor Emelianenko should fight Alistair Overeem and whoever wins that fight gets to fight Fabricio Werdum,” Coker recently told Sherdog.com. “Alistair vs. Fedor? I’d love to see that fight happen.”

Although nothing has been confirmed, it’s believed the highly anticipated showdown – and Strikeforce’s sole trump card – will headline their first pay-per-view broadcast. The contest would mark Fedor’s final commitment to the San Jose, CA based promotion, so why not go out with a bang?

Why, it’s the idea that you should have your champion fight a cat who just lost in order to see who gets to fight the guy to whom said loser just lost.  That’s like saying Brock Lesnar should have fought Frank Mir to see which one gets Shane Carwin even though Mir lost to Carwin and Lesnar was the champion.  If your heavyweight title doesn’t mean anything — i.e., if you’re willing to skip over your number 1 contender and have your champ fight a cat the contender just beat due to contractual or monetary issues — then, sorry, you’re not a legit promotion.  What if Fedor beats Overeem?  Then is Fedor the Strikeforce heavyweight champion?  Can we dissolve this organization yet?

3) Talk about negotiating from a position of weakness:

Fedor Emelianenko is the hottest name on the MMA free agent market. The only problem is, the heavyweight still has one fight remaining on his current Strikeforce deal. Nonetheless, it hasn’t stopped M-1 Global figurehead Vadim Finkelchtein from laying all his Octagon cards on the table.

“I think yes. But not on the same terms they offered us before,” Finkelchtein told ProSport (via Fighters Only) of joining forces with the UFC. “We will not let ourselves to get owned. Fedor became very popular [already] outside the Octagon. So, long story short:

1. We would like to receive guaranteed payments. I know that if we agree for percents, they will cheat us.

2. Maybe not a co-promotion (like we offered before), but at least co-branding.

3. They also will have to permit Fedor participating in Sambo competitions, and during our last negotiations UFC were ready for that term.”

Whoo-hoo hoo hoo!  There’s nothing that says “desperate” like losing to a UFC washout and then immediately going and “demanding” certain stipulations for joining, that’s right, the UFC.  I don’t know if Fedor has his affairs in order, but if I were a betting man, I’d say the smart money is on Fedor retiring before he ever sets foot inside the Octagon.  The Russian has absolutely no leverage here, and I do stress absolutely and no.  The UFC has never offered co-branding and it’s never offered non-exclusive contracts, and there’s zero reason to suspect that Dana White would break that precedent so he can get a guy who just took himself out of the title picture (or at least he should have taken himself out: see above) in a bush-league organization.

Sure, the UFC could make gobs of money off a series of Fedor fights, and Fedor could make gobs of money off those fights himself, but the Russian’s loss has made the contractual impasse even worse.  There’s now zero chance — if there was ever any — that Dana White goes crawling to M-1, just as there used to be zero chance that M-1 would go crawling to Dana.  If Fedor is ever going to join the UFC, it’s going to be because he needs the money, and he seems like a smart enough guy to have set himself up well for the long term (hell, he may be elected to the Russian legislature before his career even ends).  Bold prediction: Fedor wins his next fight and then re-signs with Strikeforce, retiring after his next contract is up.  Either that, or he loses and retires.

4) Does Vegas want people to bet on these fights?  Who the hell’s going to take Matyushenko there?  Nobody.  Who’s going to take Bones at -600?  Nobody.  The UFC’s cards are like trips to Costco — you either take a whole bunch of fights in a parlay or you just walk away with nothing.  Honestly, Tyson Griffin at -300?  Boys, I don’t have $500 to throw away on a non-pay-per-view, third-from-the-top fight.  Let’s balance out these odds just a hare.

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