It’s over, finally. After roughly six months of negotiations, M-1 Global has reached an agreement with Strikeforce and Showtime to extend Fedor Emelianenko’s contract. MMA Fighting reported the news this morning, and adds that Fedor will face Antonio Silva on Feb. 12 in a Strikeforce heavyweight tournament quarterfinal bout as reported yesterday.
The sides had been working on a new deal since shortly after Emelianenko’s last bout, a June 26, 2010 loss to Fabricio Werdum that marked his first defeat in nearly a decade, and have come to terms on all outstanding issues.
A source told MMA Fighting that Emelianenko’s extension was for at least four more fights, and that official word on his re-signing should come from Strikeforce and M-1 later on Tuesday.
Strikeforce, Showtime and M-1 are expected to make the official announcement later today.
Interestingly, the report also pointed to heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem not participating in the tournament. Much like Bellator tournaments, the winner would move on to face Overeem for the championship later in the year… in theory at least.
In other tournament news, MMA Junkie is reporting that Andrei Arlovski will meet Sergei Kharitonov, not Josh Barnett, on Feb. 12. Also, Fabricio Werdum vs. Brett Rogers is off for March 5.
Update: Scratch that about Alistair Overeem. MMA Fighting has a new report with all four quarterfinal pairings. Rather surprisingly, Alistair Overeem is going to face Fabricio Werdum in the opening round, basically ensuring Fedor cannot meet them both in the tourney. The pairings:
- Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Silva – Feb. 12
- Andrei Arlovski vs. Sergei Kharitonov – Feb. 12
- Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum – TBD
- Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers – TBD
Update 2: The official press release:
NEW YORK (Jan. 4, 2011) – World championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotions STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL, in association with premium television network SHOWTIME have signed a new, multi-year agreement to co-promote events headlined by the MMA legend Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC).
In addition, STRIKEFORCE has assembled eight of the world’s top ranked heavyweights to compete in the STRIKEFORCE World Grand Prix – Heavyweight Tournament, a three-stage, single-elimination tournament that will take place over several events in 2011. The first two quarterfinal fights begin on Saturday, Feb. 12, live on SHOWTIME from the IZOD Center in E. Rutherford, N.J. In the main event, the 34-year-old Emelianenko will face the towering Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (15-2) in a STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL co-promoted event. Co-featured on Feb. 12, former world champion Andrei Arlovski (15-8) will face Sergei Kharitonov (16-4), the last man to defeat current STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight World Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem.
The other two quarterfinal matchups are as follows: Overeem (34-11, 1 NC) will face the only man to tap out Fedor, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1), while the heavy-handed Brett “The Grim” Rogers (11-2) will meet a hungry Josh Barnett (29-5). The location and date for these quarterfinal tournament fights are to be announced.
“We are thrilled to have come to a long-term agreement with Fedor and M-1 GLOBAL,” said STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker. “To have the greatest MMA fighter of all-time put his legacy on the line in a single-elimination tournament will truly captivate MMA fans worldwide. STRIKEFORCE is home to the best heavyweight division in the world; the athlete who runs the gauntlet in a tournament such as this would have to be considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world.”
“I’m very pleased to be working with SHOWTIME and STRIKEFORCE and Mr. Coker and Mr. Hershman personally. Thanks to their interest and efforts, we’ve created what will go down in history as MMA’s greatest heavyweight tournament of all time,” said Vadim Finkelchtein, co-founder of M-1 Global. “M-1, STRIKEFORCE and SHOWTIME have built a partnership committed to the future growth of MMA—a sport where organizations represent a working collaborative that enable the best fighters in the world to fight each other. This agreement benefits everyone, especially the fans who’ll see Fedor in action more often.
“With SHOWTIME’s significance in the U.S. and M-1’s development of the European and Asian MMA markets, the cooperation will also deliver a global roster of talented fighters to viewers,” Finkelchtein continued. “During the coming year, we’ll be showcasing spectacular Grand Prix events using the same M-1 Selection tournament format, a series of events generating enthusiastic spectator interest keeping fans glued to their screens.”
“I can’t think of a better way to start 2011 than with this major announcement,” said Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports®. “Fedor is universally known to sports fans throughout the world and it is an honor to continue our work with M-1 GLOBAL and STRIKEFORCE in presenting this legendary fighter to SHOWTIME subscribers.
“SHOWTIME has enjoyed great success with its two most recent boxing tournaments—the Super Six World Boxing Classic and The Bantamweight Tournament,” Hershman continued. “And now, with the breadth of talent in the STRIKEFORCE heavyweight division, we have the privilege of staging one of the biggest tournaments in the history of this growing sport. With the STRIKEFORCE World Grand Prix’s single-elimination format and the biggest names in the sport today, this tournament is something that no sports fan will want to miss.”
“I have been training very hard since my last fight and can’t wait to get back in the cage,” said the 6-foot, 235-pound Emelianenko, who hails from Stary Oskol, Russia and is promoted by M-1 GLOBAL. “STRIKEFORCE has assembled a roster filled with the best heavyweights in the world and, together with M-1 GLOBAL, we have the opportunity to fight the best in a great tournament format.”