Saturday, February 27, 2010
Strikeforce's Next CBS Show Set For April 17; Fedor Set To Be A No-Show
The worlds most accomplished MMA heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko (31-1), and his cadre of managers/spiritual advisers, etc have proven once again that UFC President Dana White may be on to something when he calls them "crazy Russians."
How else can you explain that Fedor, who stands to benefit immensely from exposure on U.S. soil and who needs to keep busy to avoid be criticized, yet again, for his plodding approach to fight scheduling, has apparently removed himself from Strikeforce's upcoming second CBS card set for April 17th. Fedor was tentatively scheduled to fight world #10 heavyweight Fabricio Werdum (13-4-1), but has apparently decided that the very best opponent that Strikeforce can currently offer just isn't good enough. Or maybe it was the money, or some sort of co-promotional misunderstanding; in any case, Emelianenko's primary manager Vadim Finkelstein seems dead set on turning Fedor into something of a bad joke among less-seasoned MMA fans.
Suddenly, Strikeforce's surprise acquisition of Dan "Hollywood" Henderson (25-7) is looking like the best free-agent signing in MMA history, as he will now step up to the main event to battle Jake Shields (24-4-1) for the latter's middleweight title, thus saving the card from being considered a complete disaster. Dan, of course, is coming off "The KO of 2009," maybe of that entire decade, when he completely starched Michael Bisping (18-3) at UFC 100. Shields, who some fans dislike for his wrestling-first style, is coming off a widely panned victory over Jason "Mayhem" Miller at Strikeforce/M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Rogers last November. Fan support for Henderson is at an all-time high, but he has never been an incredibly strong draw and the potential exists here for a fairly ho-hum decision in either direction.
Also believed to be on the card is a fight from the "too soon" file between Dutch DREAM and Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi (28-2-1) and the still painfully green American power-wrestler Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (6-0). If Henderson and Mousasi both win in April, it is likely that Henderson will move up to face Mousasi shortly thereafter in an attempt to hold the 185lbs. and 205lbs. Strikeforce titles simultaneously just like Dan did in PRIDE. That feat, holding any two belts simultaneously in a respectable promotion, has never been accomplished by anyone else in the sport's history.
Strikeforce may have dodged a bullet here thanks to their serendipitous signing of Henderson, but unless Emelianenko and company begin playing nice soon, Strikeforce President Scott Coker could have a hard time putting together enough main event quality fights going forward to justify their network TV presence.