Showtime Exec: M-1 Does a âGreat Jobâ for Fedor
Fedor Emelianenkoâs new fight contract wasnât just a product of negotiation between Strikeforce and his representation at M-1.
Showtime had a hand in bringing the Russian heavyweight back to the cage.
âI think that we played an important role as sort of a friendly intermediary to both sides, to make sure that this was a win-win-win,â Showtime Sports Executive Vice President Ken Hershman (Pictured) said recently on the Sherdog Radio Networkâs âBeatdownâ show. âThere was three parties. Itâs hard to do. Everybody had to be comfortable that they were getting a fair deal and something that they can make successful for their business interests. âŚ It was a long process but one weâre proud of and satisfied that came out the right way. Weâre happy about it. I think M-1 and Strikeforce are really happy about it as well.â
Hershman explained that the renegotiation began while Fedor had one fight left on his contract.
âWe wanted more fights,â he said. âWe thought Fedor, despite the loss, was just as big a star and an asset for our organization and âŚ we wanted more fights from him. Again it was just an opportunity to talk and reevaluate where everybody thought things were good and reevaluate where they werenât so great and fix it and make sure that everyone was satisfied. That was the opportunity. Every deal is fluid. You sign the contract and then pretend like thatâs it -- [thatâs] not really good business a lot of times. You really want to make sure that you can adapt and change and make sure that your partners are satisfied and youâre satisfied. Thatâs what we did.â
Although M-1 has been criticized often, Hershman was complimentary. He laughed at UFC President Dana White labeling them âcrazy Russiansâ and said they are decidedly not crazy.
âThey would start almost every call saying, âHey Ken, itâs the crazy Russians,ââ Hershman said. âI think they have a great perspective on how theyâre perceived by others, and all I can say is I think theyâre really smart business people. Theyâre aggressive and they do a great job for Fedor.â
More from Hershman:
On the Strikeforce heavyweight title not being on the line in the heavyweight tournament: âIâm not always so convinced that these titles are as meaningful as the quality of the matchups and the quality of the fights. I think that fighters love to set their sights on a challenge, and usually the title is sort of that benchmark by which theyâre measured, but I think being the grand prix champion will be a benchmark that they can be just as proud of and feel like theyâve accomplished just as much if not more so.â
On whether Showtime controls the matchups that are made in Strikeforce: âIn the MMA space, I rely on the people I have entrusted so much of the business part of this to, and thatâs the Strikeforce people. Theyâre the experts. They know what theyâre doing. They can tell me better than I can whatâs going to make for exciting fights. âŚ Iâm very comfortable with the way that process happens [and] my role in it, as small or as large as it may be from fight to fight or card to card. But Strikeforce are the real experts. Theyâre the matchmakers and they do their job better than anybody.â
On Nick Diaz: âItâs hard to ignore his talent. He is a very exciting style of a fighter, someone that I think works really well for our network and our audience. They seem to like him; they respond to him. We want to see a level of professionalism out of our athletes and our organization that we work with. We expect that. We demand that and we insist on that. But Nickâs been doing great, and I expect that heâs going to continue to be an important cog in the Strikeforce wheel.â
On Diaz saying he wants to fight Georges St. Pierre: âWell, [Diaz] is the best guy in the world and he wants to face someone whoâs obviously, clearly perceived as the best on the other side of the fence, but I donât see that fight happening. Do you? âŚ I think that it just shows the true competitiveness of our guys. Iâve always said âŚ weâll put our guys against any other organizationâs fighters. Pound-for-pound, in a heartbeat.â
On Cristiane âCyborgâ Santos defending her title more often: âI would love for there to be a deeper pool of talent for her because sheâs fighting way too infrequently for my taste. I think sheâs exciting and somebody who really deserves more competition. âŚ It does frustrate us because we think sheâs tremendous.â