Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was on vacation last week in Italy when the events unfolded after Josh Barnett allegedly tested positive for steroids, causing the cancellation of Affliction: Trilogy and subsequent folding of the promotion.
“My first thought was, who did the test?” Coker told MMAWeekly.com. “Because it’s usually after the fact. That was at midnight or one (on Tuesday morning).”
Coker noted that he was not surprised that the promotion folded, although he expected it to be after the show.
“That was already in the works,” he stated. “The dialogue was that they were getting out of the business a month ago.”
It was reported that Affliction was close to some sort of merger with Strikeforce before they folded and went back to working with the UFC. Coker refuted those claims, saying there were never any merger talks between Affliction and Strikeforce.
“I just want to make the facts straight: there were never merger talks,” he explained. “It makes me look stupid. I was very much in touch.”
The folding of Affliction resulted in Fedor Emelenianenko becoming the most sought after free agent in the sport. M-1 Global Co-Owner and President Vadim Finkelchtein stated this week that no deal between Fedor Emelianenko and the UFC was imminent, and that they are negotiating with other potential suitors, including Strikeforce.
“We’re not going to wait,” Finkelchtein stated in regards to seeking a new home for Fedor. “We have to move forward. It might be that very soon we will be able to announce a deal with another promotion.”
Coker confirmed negotiating with the Russian heavyweight, noting that dialogue with his management has been positive.
“We’ve had a good conversation about the strengths of what we do, and what we can offer,” Coker told MMAWeekly. “They had the meeting (Tuesday) with the UFC, and they’re going to meet with a couple boxing promoters that have been calling up. You can imagine . . . he’s like the hot free agent.”
Negotiations between Emelianenko and the UFC stalled after Emelianenko’s camp demanded that M-1 Global be allowed to co-promote two or three of Fedor’s fights with the UFC. The co-promotion has been a point of contention in negotiations between Fedor and the UFC. However, Coker noted that he has other terms that may cause problems.
“I think there’s two things on that,” he said. “There’s the co-promotion, and then there’s the big check. Dialogue is ongoing.
“They’re talking to everybody and they’re not going to make a decision right away,” Coker continued. “They’re going to take their time. They basically said we’ll get back to you and we’ll probably make a decision in the next couple of weeks.”