Strikeforce Offers Better Deal Than UFC
August 6th, 2009 | by Rea Frey
Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko joined Strikeforce founder and CEO, Scott Coker on a conference call today, along with President of M-1 Global, Vadim Finkelchtein, to discuss Fedor’s recent multi-fight deal to headline mega-events with Strikeforce and M-1 Global. After endless rumours around the bidding war over Fedor, the heavyweight fighter addressed the reasons why he took this deal over the rest.
“The advantage in signing the deal with Strikeforce is really great,” Fedor stated. “The UFC did not give us any chance to develop. The UFC wants me to be the fighter of the UFC. They do not offer us anything else. Dana White stated that M-1 rejected a huge amount of money and decided to fight for cheap money. That’s not the truth. Nothing special was offered to M-1. And when we made a deal with Strikeforce and when we united with Strikeforce, we got the opportunity to broadcast all fights on the first channel in Russia, in the leading channel in Korea and in Japan, and in many other countries. But UFC won’t give us these opportunities. If Strikeforce was able to offer a better deal than the UFC, why should we go to the UFC?
I’m happy we have found a great partner. I’m very happy to fight again. I don’t know the name of the opponent yet. I know for sure that the fight will take place in fall. I will be happy to meet any opponent, which will be offered by the organizers.”
Scott chimed in. “We’re not just signing with Fedor, but we’re signing with M-1. In conjunction with Strikeforce, we’re going to put on some sizeable match-ups together. Fedor is the greatest heavyweight fighter in the history of MMA. Everyone was after him, and for us to land him and fight on Showtime – we feel like we won the lottery.”
In response to allegations that Dana White called Strikeforce “Strikfarce,” and that no one watched Strikeforce, that they had no money and no one to fight Fedor, Scott laughed. “My response to that is of course he’s going to say that. He’s a promoter. We’ve been in business a long time, and I think we know how to operate a business with Ken and Showtime. I feel confident we are going to have some great big shows. Under the current circumstances, is anyone surprised? I don’t think so.”
After the Affliction show was cancelled, Vadim explained the negotiation process: “When we came to America, we already had a plan to have a meeting with Lorenzo and Dana. Their management was not telling anything further about the offers of the UFC. That’s why we wanted them to meet each other and we wanted also to listen to the offer.”
Ken Hirschman discussed Showtime’s plans to promote Fedor: “We’re actually beginning our planning now. We’re going to be starting with some teases we can market on Showtime and across the Internet to introduce Fedor. He’s a sold commodity among the hardcore fans. Everyone recognizes him as the best fighter in the world. We have to reach beyond that to the general fans. This is the most exciting fighter out there. Even if you’re not a hardcore MMA fan, you’re going to get some excitement watching him fight in the cage.”
In response to rumours that Dana White said Fedor didn’t want to fight the best fighters in the world and he didn’t care about the fans, Fedor remained calm. “I don’t think that I don’t need really good fighters because the last two fights I think had really great opponents.”
“With Fedor, we have a great opportunity,” Scott added. “He’s the hottest free agent on the market. We’ll probably enter the Pay-Per-View business, but it’s 6-9 months away. In the meantime, we’ll sit down with Ken and talk about how we get there. The first fight will be on Showtime, and people will get to watch it for free. We’ve always been committed to obtaining the best fighters. We’re continuing that vision. Fedor is a great opportunity, and how often does that come along? I talked to my partners who are solid guys, and we made a business decision and it was important for Showtime, and we said let’s make this partnership, and let’s go for it! If I thought this was going to be a situation where we’re going to lose money or go out of business, we wouldn’t have done it. We’ve created a formula. It’s really quite complicated, and I can’t get into it. But I think it’s a win-win for all parties involved.
“Here’s the thing with those other companies,” he continued, when discussing why they failed. “It wasn’t their core business. IFL was originally about comic books. Affliction was a t-shirt company. The core business wasn’t the mixed martial arts business. We’ve been around a long time. This is our 25th year in business. We’re going to be around for a long time. It’s our core business. If people stick to their core competency, they’ll be around.”
Fedor put to rest the rumors that he doesn’t have control over his contracts or money. “I would like to say that I have full control of all the contracts and my career as well. I get all financial reports. All important issues are being discussed with me. Everything I don’t like, Vadim tries to send for. I need to tell you I have complete control of what’s going on.”
And why he chose a smaller organization? “If the small organizations offer much better conditions than the big organizations, then I will work with small organizations,” he said. “From my viewpoint, the UFC does not have the proper attitude towards fighters. They do not consider fighters normal people – human beings. I think the attitude for UFC fighters is not the correct one. The offer seems to be one kind and on the Internet, they published different numbers. The offer we got from them was neither of those. I don’t pay attention to different discussions. There are a lot of people who take the side of the UFC. A lot of people take side of M-1 as well. I think that if the numbers which are published on the Internet were real numbers, we would have signed the contract with the UFC.”
“I don’t think that M-1 activities are reflected in the media or Internet in an accurate way,” Vadim added. “We are a very young organization and we do not have the huge PR
machine like the UFC. We have been abused in the media and the press and a lot of journalists do not take our side. Fedor has never belonged to the UFC. And not being in the UFC, he managed to achieve the image he has in fighting for many other organizations. We understand perfectly well what would happen if he had signed the contract with the UFC. Fedor’s name outside of the US is much bigger than the name of the UFC. If Fedor comes to the UFC, he’ll make the UFC famous outside of the US.
And all accusations are false ones. Dana White states right now that we wanted to come and take his business in the Russian way, but that’s not true. We offered the co-production and co-promotion.”
In conclusion, Fedor addressed the disappointment expressed by fans with the cancellation of the Brock Lesnar fight. “I really feel very sorry for that fight which could not happen. I feel very sorry for my fans, but I think that I also deserve some respect. That my personal interests are taken into consideration.”
“Just give us some time,” Vadim said. “Brock Lesnar – nobody knew him a year ago. Will you kindly give us some time? We will be able to show everybody what we will achieve together.”
“We’re happy to have the M-1 partnership and Fedor on board with Showtime,” Scott concluded. “And stay tuned for future news. This will be the first time Fedor gets in the cage in his career, and there are a lot of fans out there. When it comes to fight time, they’re all going to tune in.”
Stay tuned for future news about Fedor Emelianenko’s heavyweight fall debut on Showtime.