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Strikeforce ‘Fedor vs. Werdum’ Fallout: Immediate Rematch?

Rundown of post-fight news and notes from Strikeforce “Fedor vs. Werdum”…

— 12,698 witnessed Fedor Emelianenko suffer the first loss of his career at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. Gate receipts totaled $1,066,739.

— The night’s big winner, Fabricio Werdum, doesn’t remember the defining fight of his career.

“I don’t remember the fight right now. I don’t have a memory of it right now. Fedor punched me? I’m not joking. I’m serious. Maybe those punches affected my mind. He’s a strong guy.”

Werdum knew if he was going to submit Fedor, he needed to do it early before they both started sweating.

“I think because it was the first round, there was no sweat. Maybe the second round, it’s not possible because there’s a lot of sweat and he’s slippery. Maybe it’s not possible, the triangle. But the first round doesn’t have the sweat, and it’s better for me.”

Werdum wasn’t sure how he would be beat Fedor on the ground, but knew he had to get it there to win.

“I wanted [the fight] on the ground. Maybe I’d try a triangle, or I’d try a kimura or a leglock, but I saw the triangle [first]. I saw the chance, and I didn’t let it go. This choke is a double. It’s an armbar and a choke on the neck. It’s both. Did everybody see? This choke, I will show at the next seminar.”

And despite beating the man who’s held the distinction of being the number one heavyweight in the world for the past seven years, Werdum says Fedor is still the best.

“Fedor is the best in the world. Tonight I beat Fedor, but Fedor is the best.”

Fedor is and always will be one of my very favorite fighters in this sport, but if he had to lose, I’m glad it was to someone like Werdum who truly appreciates what it means to defeat Fedor Emelianenko. Werdum was pure class before the fight, and pure class after the fight. I hope this win brings him everything he deserves.

In a post-fight interview with Elie Seckbach, Fedor described the loss as “necessary.” As a deeply religious person, it seems Fedor had become very uncomfortable with being looked upon as an “idol” or a “god.”

I’m very sorry that it happened, but I think that loss was the necessary one. I never wanted to be an idol or a god. I got a lot of letters on my website that ‘Fedor you are God,’ but I do not want to be a god.

There’s a rumor accompanying this quote…

— Nothing has been decided yet, Scott Coker says they have a variety of directions to go in, but it seems they’re leaning towards an immediate rematch. Scott Coker even mentioned pay-per-view.

“That should be a pay-per-view fight,” Coker said. “[Werdum vs. Emelianenko II] is a fight fans are going to want to see. He dethroned the king.”

“To me, Fabricio and Fedor is going to be a mega-fight that we should promote,” Coker said. “I also think that Fabricio vs. Alistair, the rematch against our champion, is something Alistair is going to want and would be another big fight. I think that the fight between Fedor and Alistair should still happen, as well.

“A lot of it is going to depend on what M-1 wants to do. They will have some say.”

M-1 seems to want the immediate rematch as well.

“We’ll see,” Finkelchtein said. “The future will show. Fabricio Werdum, this is the first fighter who managed to defeat Fedor. That’s why I certainly would thing it would be a great thing to have a rematch to be able to prove that Fedor is still the best.”

In a response to a fan’s request for the rematch on CBS, M-1’s Evgeni Kogan said “we are going to try to work something out ASAP.” CBS exec Kelly Kahl said they would certainly “have to listen” if Strikeforce approached them with the fight. I like that idea a lot more than pay-per-view.

Either way, Coker says they will honor their deal with Fedor, promote the last fight on his contract and go from there.

“We have another fight with them, and we’re going to honor our deal,” Coker said. “I think what happens with that fight will determine how we work together in the future.”

Werdum wants the immediate rematch, and he wants it in Russia, Rocky Balboa-style. Translation via BE:

After the fight, you praised Fedor and said you would give him a rematch. Did [Strikeforce] say anything about it?
No, they said that we will see, let’s enjoy this win and maybe I’ll fight Overeem, but we’ll see. I just beat the best in the world, I don’t want to take a step back and fight a guy who’s not the best in the world. I want to fight Fedor, maybe in 6 or 8 months in Russia, Rocky Balboa style.

— Dana White and co. won big last night. Following UFC 116 next weekend, the UFC will be able to declare the Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin winner as the #1 heavyweight in the world. Zuffa now has control of the #1 fighter in every weight class. That is huge. When Dana White says the UFC is the NFL of MMA, there’s no longer a giant asterisk to put next to it. We can all debate whether that’s a positive development or not, but it is the new reality.

— If the UFC was the biggest winner last night, M-1 Global was the biggest loser. As Dave Meltzer explains, they’ve lost a considerable amount of leverage at the bargaining table.

Emelianenko’s loss goes beyond the effect on rankings and goes straight at the power structure of the sport. The UFC deals most of the cards, but M-1 Global had quite a bit of power because of the perception by many of Emelianenko as the best heavyweight fighter. They used that to leverage major demands for years and turned down major UFC money offers in asking for co-promotional rights, which UFC would not agree to.

Strikeforce, looking to make its place as a strong No. 2 group on the worldwide scene, made the deal with Emelianenko and M-1 when UFC couldn’t seal the deal last summer. But whatever M-1’s leverage might have been in playing both sides when his Strikeforce contract expires after the next fight went down considerably with the loss.

Even if he were to face Werdum next and beat him impressively, and he still would make for intriguing fights against UFC heavyweights, M-1 has lost leverage. It is doubtful UFC would be willing to offer the kind of money it would have if Saturday’s result had not happened.

Expect a tidal wave of spin to come of the M-1 camp in the coming weeks.

Scott Coker is in no rush to put together a rubber match between Cung Le and Scott Smith.

“We’ve had that conversation,” Coker said. “These guys, it was an amazing fight. Both fights were amazing fights. I think if they fought every weekend it would be amazing fights every weekend, like the Gatti-Ward fight, just those epic battles. When I think of Scott and Cung that’s what I think of. But there hasn’t been anything decided. I didn’t make that commitment to Scott or to Mike, actually.

“It’s something that, as their careers go down the line, maybe there should be a rubber match at some point. We did have a conversation, but there wasn’t any commitment. It could happen. Certainly it could happen after another fight or two, but I think we’re going to be getting into the tournament business and we have another path to take.”

Cung Le is in no rush to commit to Strikeforce’s still-not-official 185lbs. tournament.

“I haven’t had a chance to think past this fight to any tournament. It’s been a rough week for me. I just had a baby boy. My wife was in labor for 14 hours and she had an emergency C-section because the cord was wrapped around the neck, so her being in the operating room on Monday, it was very draining. I was exhausted until, like, Thursday. I just dug deep and went in here, I knew I was in shape, and I got about four or five hours of sleep yesterday, so it had been a rough week.”

— Coker says Cris Cyborg’s next title defense will come against Erin Toughill before the end of the year. Future challengers could be determined by the 145lbs. women’s tournament  they’ve been trying to put together. A couple fighters from Europe also want to fight Cyborg.

— You wouldn’t have known it watching the fight, but Josh Thomson broke two ribs in the first round against Pat Healy.

“The first takedown – here at the HP (Pavilion), they do X-rays here – the first takedown, he took me down in the first round in the first minute, and he broke two of my ribs,” Thomson said. “I had a hard time breathing the rest of the night. I saw my whole career flash in front of my eyes.”

“To be honest, I knew exactly how the fight was going to go,” Thomson said. “I planned it to be a little bit easier than that, of course. It definitely sucked to tell you the truth. I wasn’t happy with my performance, and he fought his ass off.”

King Mo’s first light heavyweight title defense is official, half of it at least. He will fight on Strikeforce’s Aug. 21 Houston card, but it’s unknown against who. There wasn’t any update from Coker on Babalu.

— Middle Easy has a full list of rumors stemming from last night’s event.

— And last but not least, Forest Whitaker is now the official driver of the Fabricio Werdum war wagon.

Image via Esther Lin for Showtime

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