CHATSWORTH, Calif. - M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelchtein says he'll know as soon as today if Fedor Emelianenko's obligation to Strikeforce ends with his next fight.
The executive said his company "primarily" is negotiating with Strikeforce's broadcast partner, Showtime Networks, on a new deal that will keep the Russian heavyweight in the Strikeforce cage beyond the single fight remaining on his current contract.
That deal includes a new co-promotional agreement that could bring M-1 events to the premium-cable channel.
Finkelchtein said Emelianenko's next opponent is not a sticking point in talks.
"I think fans just want to see Fedor fight and don't necessarily care who the opponent is," Finkelchtein told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) through translator and M-1 counsel Steve Bash. "I know that Fedor doesn't care either."
When contacted for comment, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said negotiations between M-1 and Strikeforce are ongoing but declined to go into details.
The top-ranked heavyweight has been inactive since June, when he was submitted by Fabricio Werdum at "Strikeforce and M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum." A rematch between the two appeared to be in the works before Werdum underwent surgery for a damaged elbow and was put on the bench until early next year.
Emelianenko (32-2 MMA, 1-1 SF) in August gave an interview to Russian MMA website Mixfight.ru in which he requested a bout with Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, though Finkelchtein said talks about the potential matchup never went past the preliminary stage. Additionally, Overeem told MMAjunkie.com that he felt the Russian instead should meet Antonio Silva.
That matchup was discussed but did not materialize for December's "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu" event, said Finkelchtein, who added Emelianenko was "a little discouraged" that he wouldn't fight again this year for the promotion.
As to how long the Russian heavyweight can remain on the shelf, the executive said the fighter's current deal is "open to interpretation."
"There's a reasonable period of time when the fight has to happen, and pretty soon now we'll know whether or not it will be a fight under the existing contract or a new contract," Finkelchtein said.
Emelianenko flirted with the possibility of retirement before the loss to Werdum ultimately stoked his competitive fires. In an August interview with M-1 Global, he hinted at a new contract with Strikeforce for four to six fights.
"So far I feel very comfortable fighting, and I'm planning [to fight] as long as I can physically," he said.
The heavyweight on Sunday held a training seminar for about 30 MMA hopefuls at an M-1 Global affiliate gym and was in good spirits.
"I'm confident that everything will be OK to the point that Fedor's satisfied," Finkelchtein said of current negotiations with Showtime and Strikeforce. "We're slowly making progress.
"We have an agreement in place, and that agreement has one more fight on it. If we have to operate under that agreement; that's perfectly fine. But if we have the opportunity to make the relationship more long term, than certainly we're open to that as well. So we feel fine about that in terms of Fedor's career because we know at some point very soon, he's going to have a fight."