It looks like Strikeforce and M-1 Global are in the process of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on their new agreement.
M-1’s Evgeni Kogan confirmed to Sherdog that the two organizations are currently finalizing their revised deal and they expect Fedor Emelianenko to fight Fabricio Werdum sometime this summer, likely in either June or July. Apparently the reasons for renegotiating centered on the co-branding of M-1 Global.
“We were renegotiating. I think we’re pretty much at the end of that road,” said Kogan. “After the CBS show, we thought that the terms needed a little bit tweaking — nothing major, just a little bit of tweaking. So, we had a round of negotiations with Strikeforce. Everything went positively. We’re pretty much at the end.”
“Obviously, we are much more than the management company for Fedor,” said Kogan. “For us, it’s really important that the M-1 Global brand is acknowledged on these co-promotion events. As much as the partners made a lot of effort to acknowledge the co-branding, the media basically picked up on the fact that it was Strikeforce and kind of forgot about everything else, which wasn’t the most ideal for us.”
Kogan also stated M-1 never once communicated with the UFC or anyone else for that matter. To clear up other rumors, Kogan says there’s no “interior struggles” at M-1, they’ve scaled back Jerry Millen’s responsibilities and Fedor’s hand is fine.
With Fedor essentially back, all seems well in Strikeforce again. Scott Coker is happy at least, and wants everyone to know they are in it for the long haul.
“There’s a lot of benchmarks that I can check off and move forward,” Coker said. “But if you were to say a year ago, before that first fight, ‘Scott, you’ll have Fedor, Gina Carano and ‘Cyborg’ Santos will be the highest-rated show in the history of MMA on Showtime – bigger than even ‘Kimbo Slice’ – you’re going to develop new stars like Gegard Mousasi and ‘King Mo,’ DREAM is going to come to fruition, and that relationship is going to go and really work,’ I would have said to probably half of it, ‘No way,'” Coker said. “It’s an exciting time.
“Think about this: Aoki vs. Melendez, how many people could have pulled that off? I feel very fortunate, and it’s going to be an honor to have Aoki to fight Gilbert and to test our guys against their’s and see what happens. That’s what should be happening everywhere.”
“We’re going to be in this for a long time, and a year from now, it’s probably going to be the same thing,” Coker said. ” The difference between our company and the other companies that went out of business before us is that this is our core business. We’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I think we’re very good at it. My partners that are with me now have made us 10-times more efficient, and they’re very good at what they do, and they bring very smart business prowess to Strikeforce. I feel very lucky.
“To Strikeforce’s fans: Thank you for the support. We’re going to do 20 fights in a 12 month period. Continue supporting us; we truly appreciate it.”
Exciting times indeed…
Update: Dave Meltzer has a piece up on Yahoo! Sports with quotes from M-1’s Kogan as well. He basically says the same stuff, but a June or July return for Fedor doesn’t quite sound as promising as it did in the other report. Fabricio Werdum is not set as Fedor’s opponent either. Kogan also emphasized how unhappy they were with the media not promoting the M-1 Global brand like they were the Strikeforce brand. Sounds like they might have an issue with the way CBS promoted the event as well.
Kogan allowed that M-1 Global was disappointed in what happened with the promotion of the last fight, but was quick to say the problem wasn’t with Strikeforce. He said he was disappointed in media coverage of the event because the M-1 Global name in stories on the show wasn’t featured more visibly.
“The way the show was promoted, that was an issue to us, but we don’t have an issue with Strikeforce over it,” Kogan said. “M-1 isn’t a management company for Fedor Emelianenko. We are a fight promotion. We have done matches all over the world, U.S., Asia, Europe, Japan. But the media didn’t feature the M-1 name [in coverage of the November show]. Specifically, it wasn’t Strikeforce’s fault. They honored their agreement. The way the media perceived the event was it was Strikeforce. M-1 wasn’t promoted that much. That was an issue with us.”
CBS promoted the November show more as “CBS Saturday Night Fights” as opposed to promoting the Strikeforce or M-1 Global brand names. “For us, this is a really big deal,” Kogan said. “We’re concerned about our brand. For us, it’s an important piece of the big picture.”