Fedor Emelianenko has fought and defeated better fighters than Alistair Overeem: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro Cop. That’s looking at MMA history with a broad perspective. Focus on the here and the now, Overeem would present Fedor’s greatest challenge if Fedor does his part next month and fate pulls Strikeforce and M-1 together to produce the biggest fight in the organization’s history.
We’re getting a tad ahead of ourselves. Emelianenko is fighting Fabricio Werdum in June on Showtime to headline the co-promoted Strikeforce and M-1 Global event, "Fedor vs. Werdum." Werdum’s 13-4-1record boasts some impressive wins (Brandon Vera, Gabriel Gonzaga and Overeem), and also crushing losses (Minotauro, Andrei Arlovski and Junior Dos Santos, the latter a vicious first-round knockout that also kayoed him from the UFC). You figure the odds will be long against Werdum defeating Emelianenko (31-1, 1 NC), who hasn’t lost since 2000 and that a super fight between Emelianenko and Overeem for the latter’s Strikeforce heavyweight title is inevitable.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said following the Heavy Artillery show Saturday in St. Louis that there’s no guarantee. Strikeforce and M-1 played nice in agreeing to put on the June show in San Jose, but the ebb and flow between the two sides has switched from friends playing nice one minute and throwing hissy fits the next.
"To be very honest, the situation with Fedor, who's fighting on June 26, of course we have to wait and see what happens," Coker told MMAjunkie.com. "Alistair has told me many times he would love to fight Fedor. He has called Fedor out in Japan. He's looking forward to taking that fight, but that's going to be something that we have to sit down with M-1 after the June 26 fight."
The public is going to demand this matchup. Strikeforce, playing second-fiddle to Zuffa and still cleaning up the mess left in Nashville, desperately needs this – especially if they still intend on being broadcast on CBS. But given that the boardroom is sometimes more violent than inside the cage, this could turn out to be MMA’s version of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Even if you eliminate all the red tape and politics, Fedor vs. Overeem isn’t a guarantee. As Coker reminded the media, a Fedor win must become a reality rather than an assumption.
"You can't count Fabricio out," Coker said. "I think for Fabricio, the time could be right for him to move forward. So when you look at that fight, it has to be something that M-1 and Strikeforce will sit down after that fight is over."
Watching Overeem destroy Brett Rogers Saturday night, one can only dream. Rogers put a scare into Emelianenko in his last fight before succumbing in the second round and you figured the young heavyweight would build off it and get better. Instead, Overeem slammed him to the canvas with ease and pounded him until referee “Big” John McCarthy saw enough. Overeem landed 54 of 79 strikes – Rogers only one of 14 – to earn the 28th first-round stoppage of his career and eighth straight victory. Faced with running accusations of steroids abuse, Overeem proved he’s one of the best heavyweights in the business. Emelianenko has to do his part, but a showdown between Overeem and The Last Emperor would be a blockbuster for Strikeforce and M-1.
Bellator Fighting Championships distributed a press release, in light of Gilbert Melendez's challenge to Eddie Alvarez, campaigning for a fight between their lightweight champ and Strikeforce's lightweight title holder, and Coker is open to it. Two of the world's top lightweights and heavyweights fighting on separate cards. That's how you create a buzz. That's how you compete with the UFC.
Time to get it done.