M-1 on Fedor's Return: Ball in Strikeforceās Court
M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchstein told Sherdog.com on Tuesday that it was Strikeforce who was delaying a renegotiation process between the two promotions that would greenlight the return of the worldās No. 1 heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko, to the Strikeforce cage.
Sherdog.com had reported March 9 that both promotions were nearing the closure of a revised co-promotional agreement to hold additional events together in the U.S., following their inaugural Nov. 7 venture Strikeforce M-1 Global āFedor vs. Rogers,ā which aired live on CBS to four million viewers.
M-1 Global, a promotional and management company based out of Holland and Russia, approached Strikeforce in late December or early January to revise the three-event contract theyād signed with the American promotion last August. Part of that deal included the participation of the nearly unblemished Emelianenko, who has been coveted and courted by every major fight promotion, including the UFC.
However, as of late April, the two parties have appeared to have come to an impasse. M-1ās reps insisted Tuesday that any burden in the stalled deal didnāt lie with them.
āIn the renegotiations, weāre not asking for anything new at all that wasnāt already there in our original agreement,ā said Finkelchstein through the translation of Evgeni Kogan, M-1 Globalās director of operations. āWeāre not looking for anything additional to that.
āThere are certain clauses in that agreement which havenāt been lived up to,ā continued Finkelchstein. āIn 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.ā
Finkelchstein said M-1 fighter participation was one of the terms in the original agreement that wasnāt fulfilled. Finkelchstein also shot down Internet rumors that M-1ās newest demands were monetary in nature.
āItās been written on the Internet that M-1 is trying to re-negotiate for more money,ā said Finkelchstein. āThis is not the case. ā¦ Weāre asking for changes to language in the contract in a way, which makes it necessary to adhere to the original agreement.ā
In March, M-1 Global laid blame for their dissatisfaction with the Nov. 7 event mostly with the media, and not their U.S. partners. When asked Tuesday if M-1 Global now believed Strikeforce to be in breach of the co-promotional contract, Finkelchstein again pointed to the lengthy renegotiation period.
āAgain, it is not us who is stretching this process out. Itās the other sideā¦,ā said Finkelchstein. āNo, we donāt, at this point, consider Strikeforce to be in breach of the terms. ā¦ Certain things were not done that could have been done. A lot of excuses were made as to why they werenāt done.ā
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker declined to comment specifically on M-1ās remarks, and said that negotiations are ongoing. Coker said that it is Strikeforceās policy to not negotiate in the media.
āWe look forward to the fight on June 26 with Fedor along with our joint-venture partners, M-1, pursuant to our agreement with them,ā Coker told Sherdog.com through a representative.
Emelianenko, who knocked out Brett Rogers in the second round at Strikeforce M-1 Globalās āFedor vs. Rogersā on Nov. 7 outside Chicago, was first said to be making his promotional return against former UFC contender Fabricio Werdum on April 17 in Nashville, Tenn. But when a new agreement was not reached, Strikeforceās Coker voiced his intentions to reschedule the bout on a yet-to-be-announced card on June 26 at the HP Pavilion on San Jose, Calif.
āFrom our point of view, weāre 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,ā said Finkelchstein.
Asked to clarify Showtimeās involvement, if any, in the renegotiations, Finkelchstein would only say that the cable network, which regularly airs Strikeforce events, had āan interestā in the talks between the two promotions, and that specifics of the contract could not be discussed due to the nature of the agreement.
Finkelchstein stated that the 33-year-old Emelianenko would have been able to participate in Strikeforce āNashvilleā last Saturday, and said the June 26 date was possible for the revered heavyweight.
āBasically, everythingās possible. This (decision) doesnāt depend on us at all,ā said Finkelchstein. āThe ball is in their court. Fedor is in good shape. Heās constantly training to keep his form up. He needs around a month and a half warning before a potential fight and heāll be able to fight. So the 26th of June is not a problem.ā
Finkelchstein said that, at this point, there was no deadline Strikeforce would need to make to ensure Emelianenko is prepared for the June 26 show.
āPeak-level training begins about five to six weeks out,ā said Finkelchstein, ābut that depends on how (Emelianenko) has been training (beforehand).ā
Finkelchstein said Emelianenko was anxious to fight again soon.
āFedor is frustrated. Heās upset that he hasnāt been given the ability to fight,ā said Finkelchstein. āAgain, the (delay) to make the fight happen, hasnāt been on us. Itās been on the other side. Because of their refusal to agree on giving us what was promised in the (contract) signed, the fight hasnāt happened.ā
Finkelchstein also addressed persistent rumblings that M-1 officials have been secretly meeting and negotiating with the UFC for the last two months behind closed doors.
āNeither myself nor the M-1 company is in negotiations whatsoever with the UFC,ā said Finkelchstein. āThereās nothing going on between us and the UFC, except that (UFC President) Dana (Whiteās) obvious interest in Fedor from all of the interviews which heās done, is making rather a splash. Of course, we hear about it in Russia all of the time.ā
Finkelchstein reiterated their goal to come to a swift resolution with Strikeforce.
āWe are continuing negotiations in good faith with Strikeforce,ā said Finkelchstein. āWeāre not asking for anything other than what we were promised initially. ā¦ What we want is simply a 50-50 (relationship). We donāt 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.ā