Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker began negotiations with co-promotional partner M-1 Global earlier this week to plot out Fedor Emelianenkoâ€™s third and final bout for the two organizations on his current contract.
â€śThose discussions have started,â€ť Coker told the Sherdog Radio Networkâ€™s â€śBeatdownâ€ť show on Monday. â€śAll I could tell you is that itâ€™s going to lead to another conversation, which will lead to another conversation, so itâ€™s going to take time, and, hopefully, weâ€™ll have something put together in the next two to three weeks and we can make a big announcement when the next Fedor fight will occur. If it were up to me, guys, and it were a Strikeforce event, weâ€™d have Fedor fighting before the end of the year. When you have a co-promotion, there are a lot of different needs to fill so to speak.â€ť
Still, Coker said he was hopeful that these new set of talks would not extend like the last round, where M-1 Global insisted on re-negotiating a deal that it already signed in August 2009 and pushed Emelianenkoâ€™s April return back to June.
â€śIt wasnâ€™t like last time when there were some real major material issues that were a part of the problem. I think this conversation will go much quicker than the last one, and if we all agree, then weâ€™ll set the date,â€ť said Coker. â€śHe could fight as early as October or November, maybe, but itâ€™s really up in the air right now.â€ť
The even-tempered Coker said this process becomes part of the package when one chooses to co-promote with other organizations.
â€śAny time you have a partner, thatâ€™s going to be the reality,â€ť he said. â€śBelieve me, itâ€™s not unlike the relationship with Dream, in that for me to get [lightweight champion Shinya] Aoki, it took me a year. Now, a lot of that wasnâ€™t out in the public, and they werenâ€™t talking about anything. I wasnâ€™t saying anything, so, really, it just flew under the radar, but believe me, any time you have a partner, itâ€™s going to take time and itâ€™s going to be a different process if I was just doing it myself.â€ť
Coker said the extra legwork has been worth it, though.
â€śWeâ€™ve put some great fights on with Dream and I think weâ€™re going to have some more great fights with Dream, and the Fedor fights have been worth it,â€ť said Coker. â€śWeâ€™ve been able to put some fights together that, to me, make it all worthwhile. But, yes, there are some more hoops to jump through.â€ť
In the Strikeforce heavyweight picture, there will be much to decide in the coming weeks. Fabricio Werdum, the man who vanquished Emelianenko with a slick 69-second submission in June, has already offered the iconic Russian fighter an immediate rematch -- the bout M-1 Global wants next.
However, Coker has his sights set on Emelianenko facing heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, possibly in a non-title bout, recent winner Antonio Silva or new acquisition Sergei Kharitonov. There are multiple combinations among those names, said Coker, and he said he will not postpone things any more than he has to.
â€śIf the talks take too long, then weâ€™ll move on,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™re not waiting forever, and Alistair and Fabricio will definitely be fighting [one another] if thatâ€™s the case.â€ť
Also on Cokerâ€™s agenda will be discussions to extend the U.S. outletâ€™s co-promotional relationship with M-1 in order to continue producing events together into 2011. Coker said those talks will commence once the parties come to a consensus on Emelianenkoâ€™s next appearance.