I think it was a deal that made it very difficult to be profitable from. So getting Fedor from a branding perspective was huge, and that was a risk that was, at the time, necessary to take. That was the biggest acquisition we had made as a company. Right away, signing Fedor put our company, put Strikeforce, in that many more households. Just the name Strikeforce — it got out there. The same [thing happened] with Herschel Walker, signing Herschel Walker. Those are … there are certain names that when you attach yourself to, it just elevates your brand and it takes things to new level. And, so, it’s an investment that, at the time, seemed like an investment that was necessary… You know, what’s funny is somebody said to me not too long ago, ‘You are never going to make money with Fedor.’ He said that to me because he thought that he understood the mentality behind Fedor’s management. He said, ‘You are never going to make money with them.’ [He] said that straight out to me. There’s a lot of different thoughts out there, and I think maybe it wasn’t the right move, but everybody wanted it at the time. And when we did it, it sure felt good. But it could have been part of the undoing… I think there was a bittersweet feeling amongst certain people in certain circles (when Fedor lost two in a row). He had a great career, but it was a tough deal to swallow — the whole Fedor deal. Him losing two in a row … maybe it was for the best, from a business standpoint of course. Co-promoting is tough; there’s a lot of different interests at hand. It’s tough enough to promote a fight on your own. Then, when you have a partner, it’s a tougher business.
— Former Strikeforce executive Mike Afromowitz talking to Sherdog about Strikeforce’s decision to go into business with M-1 Global and Fedor Emelianenko
Many people questioned Strikeforce’s decision to sign Fedor Emelianenko and go into business with M-1 Global. After all, Affliction had just failed epically trying to build a promotion around The Last Emperor. There’s no doubt about it. Fedor brought them the attention and recognition that they wouldn’t have received otherwise, but at the end of the day, money is money and companies don’t succeed by spending more than they make. Strikeforce may not landed a CBS deal without him, but in the end, it didn’t matter anyways when their second main event turned into a snoozer and Mayhem Miller inadvertently incited a brawl on national television. I don’t think it’s fair to put all the blame on the Fedor deal, but it certainly played a major factor in the events that led to SVSE selling off the company.
On another note, I highly recommend you check out the full interview over Sherdog. Afromowitz gives one of the most insightful looks at the rise and fall of Strikeforce from a perspective we haven’t heard from before.