Normally-reserved Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has taken up a new, more stern approach in dealing with his fighters; Russian commodity Fedor Emelianenko in particular. Once (not too long ago) considered to be unbeatable, Emelianenko and his notorious management team M-1 Global were in a position to make some pretty stiff demands during contract negotiations. Now, having been handed what many consider to be his only true loss by Fabricio Werdum at “Strikeforce: Fedor Vs. Werdum,” much of “The Last Emperor’s” bargaining leverage has been diminished. Having been subjected to frustrating M-1-initiated contract re-negotiations personally may be the reason why Coker is not exactly warm to M-1 Global’s call for a rematch with Werdum. Coker recently spoke with Sherdog.com and explained why that rematch does not interest him and why he may still push for Fedor to fight Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem.
Coker had previously mentioned that he would still be interested in promoting an Overeem-Emelianenko bout despite Emelianenko’s recent loss and revealed to Sherdog that there is now a short list of opponents that the Russian could face next; none of whom are Fabricio Werdum.
“It doesn’t have to be Overeem,” said Coker. “It could be (Antonio) ‘Big Foot’ Silva or maybe (Sergei) Kharitonov.”
The Strikeforce boss explained why Werdum is absent from that list and why, despite both fighters calling for it, he has no immediate interest in their rematch.
“It’s not Fabricio Werdum,” he said. “He already beat (Fedor). To me, it’s only been a month (since the first fight). We saw the Werdum fight already. I think when they eventually hook up and fight again, it will be an amazing fight and event.”
Emelianenko’s three-fight contract with Strikeforce is now one fight from being fulfilled and there was speculation that Coker and Co. were trying to push the Fedor-Overeem fight regardless of Fedor’s loss in order to lock Emelianenko into a “champion’s clause,” basically preventing his exit from their promotion to that of a rival. Coker denied that such was the impetus for the proposed Overeem-Emelianenko fight and even said that the fight, were it to happen, may not even be for the title.
“That’s not it at all,” said Coker. “Depending on if there’s any future fights, if he fights Overeem, it might not be a title fight. It doesn’t have to be (for the title). If Fedor is on his last fight with us, we wouldn’t make it a title fight with Alistair. But why shouldn’t that fight happen regardless?”
Coker was asked how he planned to deal with M-1 Global were they to stick to their demand of facing Werdum next and the perpetually soft spoken promoter gave a direct and uncharacteristic response.
“I just don’t think they’ll have a choice,” he said.