It appears Strikeforce and Showtime are finally playing hardball with M-1 Global, Fedor Emelianenko's management team.
It's been nearly a month since Emelianenko suffered his first loss in nearly 10 years to Fabricio Werdum and it appears Strikeforce is trying to leverage Emelianenko's desire for a rematch into getting him to sign a contract extension.
Here is what Dave Meltzer had to say about it on the Sunday night edition of Wrestling Observer Radio (subscription required):
The M-1 people want Werdum. Fedor wants Werdum, that's the fight he wants. Strikeforce, I think the game Strikeforce is playing is that they don't want to give Werdum because they want (Fedor) to sign an extension so he can get Werdum, so it's going to be very interesting how this all plays out. The other thing is that the M-1 people want Fedor's next fight on pay-per-view, and it probably will be whenever (that is), but because it's going to be on pay-per-view, you're going to need a lot of lead time, so it may not be until early next year. It's going to be against Overeem or Werdum, one or the other, I would think. There's another name it might be that might be announced as early as tomorrow ... but maybe another name will pop up. He's mentioned Big Foot Silva, which I think would be a waste, and Sergei Kharitonov, nobody knows him in this country, so you can't put that on pay-per-view at all, that's just ridiculous. I don't know. They're in a weird situation right now. To do what makes sense doesn't make sense if you know what I mean. And do what doesn't make sense doesn't make sense also. So they just have to do, especially if you're going on pay-per-view, you have to put on a show, you know, I don't know if they can do pay-per-view.
This is all very interesting, as all parties have been publicly posturing with who they think Emelianenko should face next. But now that the ball is in Strikeforce's court, it's nice to see them standing up for themselves for once here and try to use what leverage they do have into signing Emelianenko to an extension, as his next fight with the promotion is scheduled to be his last.
But it appears M-1 Global might just have an ace up their sleeve: The "rise" of FEG, the promotional group that runs both K-1 and DREAM, which recently declared war on both the UFC and WWE with hopes of global domination behind new financial backers.
The Fedor people, they want his next fight on pay-per-view, they want to fight Werdum. Strikeforce wants Fedor to sign an extension, I think that the M-1 people may be seeing that they may have to do a deal with UFC, but if K-1 gets all these millions of dollars, they may be able to go to Japan and get the million dollar payoff in Japan right now, and Japan, if they're looking at signing big names and everything, that's probably a name that they'd be willing to pay a lot of money for, so maybe they'll be able to do business over there again.
No matter what happens, this is most definitely an interesting situation. Will DREAM/K-1 become a player for Emelianenko as a way for M-1 Global to play hardball with Strikeforce?
Personally, I think everybody is just about sick of M-1 Global and their constant antics. If Emelianenko goes to Japan, I'd be surprised if he ends up back in Strikeforce, regardless of opponent. And if he loses that fight in Japan? Watch out. That pretty much kills any value he has in the United States. But I think Strikeforce has the right line of thinking here. As of now, Emelianenko still is an asset to have in the U.S., because he does have a very good chance of rebounding and beating either Werdum or Overeem. They absolutely cannot let him walk, so it would be wise on their part to lock him up now before they offer him another fight. If he signs an extension, give him Werdum. If he doesn't, give him Overeem and hope like hell Overeem wins. I think Meltzer said it best, though, when he said "to do what makes sense doesn't make sense." I think that one statement describes the whole situation perfectly.