Fedor Emelianenko Chooses Strikeforce Over UFC

Greg RiotAnalyst IAugust 4, 2009

Despite a well-read LA Times report that Fedor Emelianenko was close to signing with the UFC to fight Brock Lesnar, it seemed as if most MMA fans knew better.

Many polls that ran in the last week asking if Fedor’s next fight would be inside or outside the UFC chose the latter, and that’s exactly what will happen now that Fedor has signed a three-fight deal with Showtime’s Strikeforce organization.

Fedor chose Strikeforce because he wanted to honor his commitment to the Russian-based M1 Global MMA promotion, and the organization wouldn’t budge on its demands to co-promote any event with the UFC.

While many fans saw this move coming, that doesn’t seem to make them any less angry today now that Fedor will be fighting in Strikeforce, and really, who can blame them?

A Fedor vs. Lesnar fight probably would have been even bigger than UFC 100 and it would have brought even more fans into the sport. It would have cemented the UFC as a true household league on par with the MLB/NBA/NFL giants that dominate the American sports landscape.

Other fans across the world including Japanese fans and Russian fans, among others, would also have snapped up the pay-per-view broadcast assuming the UFC could have delivered it to their corners of the world. Simply put, the UFC and Dana White missed a golden opportunity here that they’re going to be hearing about for a long time.

Fedor deserves some of the blame as well, but anyone who knows anything about MMA can tell he didn’t do it to “duck” Lesnar. Fedor has talked many times about wanting to set up fights with the UFC’s best champions and he was sincere about it. While it is true that he shies away from the spotlight, he doesn’t back down from competition. There’s a big difference between those two things.

And really, all is not lost for MMA fans. A Fedor-Brett Rogers fight would be incredible and the winner of Shane Carwin and Cain Velazquez vs. Lesnar would also be an incredible potential fight for the UFC down the road.

And once Fedor’s three-fight contract is up, he just might be free enough to go ahead and pursue the UFC’s offer of a fight with Lesnar again.

Of course, he might be a little older and a bit less dangerous at that point in time and Lesnar might have a loss under his belt by then. But there’s also a definite chance that both Brock and Fedor go undefeated for the next year and a half or so and set up a fight that could be even bigger than the one we all just missed out on. In the meantime, enjoy what should still be a new golden age for MMA fans everywhere, even if its brightest and best spectacle might have to wait a little while.