Top pound for pound fighter Fedor Emelianenko has been noticeably out of action since his November 7, 2009 TKO win over Brett Rogers. That fight was Fedor’s first and, to date, only under the Strikeforce banner. Fedor’s management team, M-1 Global, has been involved in a lengthy and apparently strenuous contract re-negotiation with Strikeforce that has frustratingly kept their main source of leverage, Fedor, out of the cage. M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchstein spoke with Sherdog.com through his translator to offer his view on why the contract re-negotiation is taking so long.
“In the renegotiations, we’re not asking for anything new at all that wasn’t already there in our original agreement,” said Finkelchstein. “We’re not looking for anything additional to that.
“There are certain clauses in that agreement which haven’t been lived up to,” Finkelchstein elaborated. “In one of these clauses was co-promotion, and given that M-1 spent a significantly larger amount of money on the first show than did Strikeforce, we would like to see something along the lines of a number of M-1 fighters fighting on the M-1 Strikeforce show, the main show, the undercard, etc.”
M-1 Globabl’s co-promotion clause has become infamous for keeping Fedor out of action and for likely preventing a contract agreement to be reached with the UFC. The Holland-based promotion company seemingly will not offer any fight promotion the services of Emelianenko without the exclusive co-promotion agreement. Finkelchstein himself insists that the re-negotiations are not over issues of monetary compensation but are centered around the co-promotion clause.
“It’s been written on the Internet that M-1 is trying to re-negotiate for more money,” said Finkelchstein. “This is not the case. … We’re asking for changes to language in the contract in a way, which makes it necessary to adhere to the original agreement.
“We are continuing negotiations in good faith with Strikeforce,” Finkelchstein added later. “We’re not asking for anything other than what we were promised initially. … What we want is simply a 50-50 (relationship). We don’t want a repeat of the November 7 show, which for all intents and purposes looked like a Strikeforce show. We want to be 50-50 partners. We want this to be a proper fully fledged co-promotion.”
Finkelchstein said that while M-1 Global is not taking the stance that Strikeforce is in breach of contract, they do believe the reason for the contractual stalemate is Strikeforce’s failure to follow through on previously-agreed-to terms.
“From our point of view, we’re waiting for the decision of, primarily, Scott (Coker) and Strikeforce, but also that of Showtime, and basically delivering in the relationship, going forward, that which was promised to us in the first place,” Finkelchstein said.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has revealed tentative plans to have Emelianenko compete on a June 26th Strikeforce card. Assuming the contract negotiations are worked out, Finkelchstein assures that Fedor is in “good shape” and that fighting on the “26th of June is not a problem.”
The overall attitude that MMA fans display towards the great Russian heavyweight’s management team is one of frustration; for keeping him out of action and for making it difficult in general for any promotion to sign and keep Emelianenko on their roster. MMA fans are not the only people frustrated by Fedor’s inactivity, however.
“Fedor is frustrated. He’s upset that he hasn’t been given the ability to fight,” said Finkelchstein.
“Again, the (delay) to make the fight happen, hasn’t been on us. It’s been on the other side. Because of their refusal to agree on giving us what was promised in the (contract) signed, the fight hasn’t happened.”
There has been speculation made (largely in part due to subtle hints UFC President Dana White has made in interviews) that part of the reason that Strikeforce and M-1 Global have been unable to reach an agreement is a result of the UFC’s clandestine courting of Emelianenko. Finkelchstein is quick to refute those rumors.
“Neither myself nor the M-1 company is in negotiations whatsoever with the UFC,” said Finkelchstein. “There’s nothing going on between us and the UFC, except that (UFC President) Dana (White’s) obvious interest in Fedor from all of the interviews which he’s done, is making rather a splash. Of course, we hear about it in Russia all of the time.”
The constant difficulty presented by M-1 Global to Fedor Emelianenko’s fighting career is frustrating at best. “The Last Emperor” is by and large considered to be one of the best Mixed Martial Artists to ever compete. At 33 years old, while not exactly knocking on retirement’s door, he certainly is not getting any younger. Keeping him out of the cage is unfair to Emelianenko and MMA fans alike. Hopefully we will see Emelianenko compete soon against top competition, otherwise his legacy as the best MMA fighter ever will hardly be secured.