We were all a little bummed (some were downright pissed) when Fedor Emelianenko signed with Strikeforce. It meant no fight against Brock Lesnar or any of the other UFC heavyweights for that matter. Strikeforce has a few quality heavyweights though and Fedor’s first fight is scheduled for Showtime, so at least we don’t have to pay $50 to see it. It could be worse, right?
Well, it could be if this latest rumor pans out. On MMA Junkie Radio today, Gorgeous George said he’s hearing from a reliable source that Ricco Rodriguez could be Fedor’s next opponent. Yes, the same Ricco Rodriguez who was good back when Tito was champ and the UFC was doomed before completely falling off the wagon. He even fought on YAMMA’s only show alongside Oleg Taktarov and Mark Kerr before finding his way on VH1’s celebrity rehab with Dr. Drew. To be honest, it’s so freakin’ stupid, I’m having a hard time believing it’s not a joke.
Except it might not be. Steve Cofield says the media room at UFC 101 was abuzz over the potential match-up, and TapouT Radio’s Crooklyn said they just got done interviewing Strikeforce’s Mike Afromowitz who would neither confirm nor deny the rumor, so it sounds like there might be something to it. Before everyone starts bashing Fedor though remember it is just a rumor at this point; one I seriously hope they’re just floating out there to make everyone a little happier when they announce his real opponent. That’s what you’re doing, right Scott Coker?
Moving on, Sherdog is reporting that Phil Baroni, out of nowhere, may be heading back to the UFC, which is pretty weird considering Baroni hasn’t defeated a quality opponent in years. That wouldn’t have more to do with the UFC snatching up as much Strikeforce talent as they can in their quest to crush the competition, would it?
JB: Were you offered and not told about an offer from UFC? Is there a rift between you and your management?
GM: There was no offer from the UFC. There were never negotiations about me going to the UFC. I have a 2 fight deal with DREAM. Even if I wanted to fight in the UFC it wouldn’t have happened, I have also signed with EA games and I don’t think the UFC is very happy about that. There was no chance I’d go to the UFC. Strikeforce and DREAM let me fight in other organizations, that was the best deal for me.
JB: To dispel all rumors, Is there any difficulty between you and your management at M-1?
Gegard basically answers my biggest question from the ordeal. Why would M-1 lie to him about a UFC offer to influence him to sign with Strikeforce if it wasn’t even possible for him to sign with the UFC in the first place? M-1’s side of the story certainly sounded shady, but that question alone is enough to make me doubt if any foul play actually occurred. Guess we’ll have to take Mousasi’s word for it unless we hear otherwise.
And last but not least, Matt Lindland has signed with Strikeforce (this one’s not a rumor). His plan is to fight on Strikeforce’s next major card and named Jake Shields, Cung Le and Robbie Lawler as possible opponents. It’s not going to be Le, he won’t be fighting by then, but Shields still needs an opponent for his interim middleweight title fight, so that definitely sounds like a possibility.
Update: It turns out Strikeforce released Phil Baroni which kind of rules out the theory that the UFC was snatching him up for competition reasons. His agent confirmed nothing has been signed with the UFC yet. And I’m left still wondering why they would want him.
The 31 year old Rodriguez also says he has been in talks about a possible match with Fedor Emelianenko “Yeah I’ve been approached about it, nothing’s final yet but that’s a fight I would definitely want. I know people will say I don’t have a chance, but I destroyed the guy who handed Fedor his only loss. Fedor is a great fighter but, the training I’ve done at Wolfslair has improved my game tremendously so I think I’ve got a great shot at beating him.”
Now, excuse me while I go beat my head into the wall.
Update 3: Phil Baroni announced today he signed with the UFC. Claims he wasn’t actually cut and declined to negotiate a deal fight on Strikeforce’s “Challengers” series.