Sources inside the frustratingly slow re-negotiations between top heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko and fight promotion Strikeforce tell MMA Fighting that the two are close to reaching an agreement and that a contract is close to getting pinned down.
The source, residing in Emelianenko’s camp, indicates the enigmatic Russian’s desire to compete as the impetus for the negotiation’s progression.
“Fedor wants to fight as soon as possible,” said the anonymous source. “Nothing is finalized, but that’s not a negative thing. There is no negative connotation to that from our side. It’s a complicated process. But it’s going to get done.”
Strikeforce man-in-charge Scott Coker echoed that statement in one of his own made to MMA Fighting.
“We hope to wrap up our negotiations soon and have Fedor back in the cage soon,” said Coker.
Emelianenko, who is hotly debated as being the best heavyweight (and possibly pound-for-pound) fighter in the world, last saw action in November of 2009 when he won a fight against Brett Rogers under the Strikeforce banner. “The Last Emperor” was rumored to be competing on the April 17th “Strikeforce: Nashville” card against Fabricio Werdum but some friction between Emelianenko’s management company, M-1 Global, and Strikeforce prevented Emelianenko’s appearance on that card and led to their current negotiations.
It has been speculated that the talks are centered around issues with the two organizations’ co-promotion agreement although nothing official has been released indicating the true nature of the dust up.
Ever the pot-stirrer, UFC president Dana White hinted in an interview with MMAJunkie after “UFC On Versus 1″ that he could have a hand in the Russian’s absence from action.
“What’s going on?” White asked coyly. “Why isn’t he fighting? That’s weird.”
“I don’t know (if he has a contract with Strikeforce),” he went on. “If he doesn’t, that would be interesting, wouldn’t it?”
Although it is exciting to envision Emelianenko testing himself against the UFC’s monster heavyweights, Fedor is most likely much closer to striking a deal with Strikeforce than with the UFC. M-1 Global is quickly becoming infamous for using Emelianenko’s status to muscle fight promotions into conceding to their over-the-top demands. Dana White and company are in the position where they do not need Fedor and do not need to enter into a nonsensical co-promotion agreement with M-1 Global, whereas Strikeforce needs all the star power they can get to draw attention their way.
Expect Emelianenko to return to Strikeforce before Summer’s end against Werdum or another heavyweight positioned squarely outside of the consensus top ten.