Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem is staring down the barrel of a title defense against Brett Rogers in May. However, many believe that the rightful contender to Overeem’s throne is pound for pound great Fedor Emelianenko. Emelianenko knocked Rogers out in November but will not be fighting Overeem because of his entanglement in a contract dispute with Strikeforce that many believe can be attributed to his management team, M-1 Global. Overeem spoke with MMAMania.com about why he thinks he is fighting Rogers and not Emelianenko.
“I wanted to fight Fedor but my management knows the management of Fedor very well,” said Overeem. “There is too much risk business-wise to make that fight happen for M-1. If they lose they cannot play their co-promotion card anymore and M-1 will be over. [Strikeforce CEO] Scott [Coker] will terminate all bindings with M-1 and continue with me and Golden Glory as he knows we are reasonable and we have been around for 10 plus years. I think he got gray hairs from them already [laughs].”
Overeem is referring to the somewhat dubious co-promotion agreement that M-1 Global has with Strikeforce. It is believed that that same co-promotion clause that M-1 Global mandates of anyone looking to sign Emelianenko to their roster is the main reason that Fedor is not currently fighting for the UFC.
There have been many negative reports made surrounding M-1 Global and most of them see M-1 as using the leverage that their star fighter, Fedor Emelianenko, brings to the table to force fight promotions into parasitic co-promotion agreements that net M-1 Global large profit. Since Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi left M-1 Global in February their business relies primarily on Fedor Emelianenko; were “The Last Emperor” to desert the management company it would likely be the death knell for M-1 Global.
Overeem feels that Fedor is still a top heavyweight and would like nothing more than to test himself in the ring with the enigmatic Russian. That is why he issued this direct statement to Emelianenko pleading for the pound for pound great to leave M-1 Global and to fight the best.
“Fedor, you are a great fighter and like many other great Russian fighters in history you do your talking in a ring or cage,” said Overeem. “Leave this M-1 circus and start fighting the best. It’s okay to lose sometimes but hiding makes you look like a coward, which Fedor is not, [M-1 Global President] Vadim [Finkelchtein] is!”
Overeem will defend his title against Brett Rogers at “Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery” on May 15th. It is unclear when Emelianenko will return to action.