Fedor Emelianenko Vs. Brett Rogers to Air November 7th on CBS
After weeks of rumored dates, Strikeforce has finally settled on November 7th to unveil their new signing, Fedor Emelianenko. Strikeforce and promotional partner M-1 Global announced that Rogers would be Fedor’s first Strikeforce opponent last month. A date wasn’t announced at that time, though October or early November seemed to be likely targets.
This will be the debut of Strikeforce on CBS, though the network aired three Elite XC events last year. It will also certainly be Emelianenko’s largest U.S. audience to date. According to the press release, CBS is likely to air four fights from the card while the undercard fights will be shown elsewhere.
CBS executive Kelly Kahl is excited to have Fedor’s Strikeforce debut on the network:
There’s no question this is a sport that is fast becoming a force in popularity and as a business. We’re excited to be the platform that will enable millions more to see the athlete regarded as the very best in his sport. The Number One heavyweight on the most-watched network has a very nice ring to it.
The 30-1 Emelianenko is considered the top heavyweight in the world. He signed with Strikeforce in early August after Affliction folded their MMA promotion. Emelianenko had lengthy contract negotiations with numerous organizations, including the UFC, before signing with Strikeforce. Rogers is 10-0 in his MMA career. He is coming off of a knockout victory over Andrei Arlovski at Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields.
The UFC has counter-programmed numerous events from their competitors with broadcasts of recent pay-per-views or other specials on Spike TV. They counter-programmed Affliction’s debut show with a live card of their own featuring Anderson Silva. There have been rumors that the UFC has a live card scheduled and on hold, waiting for Strikeforce to select the date for Fedor’s debut.
November 7th may prove to be a difficult day for the UFC to counter-program however. UFC 105 takes place on November 14th, while UFC 106 takes place on November 21st. Scheduling three live events in three consecutive weekends would be a huge strain on the UFC’s resources and staff.
Additionally, scheduling a live card to air opposite a network MMA event would be very risky. Numerous households only have basic cable, so if there’s a UFC event on Spike TV and a Strikeforce event on Showtime, the UFC is likely to win the ratings war simply because Spike TV is available in many more homes. However, trying to counter-program an event on CBS would be much more difficult. Many more casual viewers would be likely to tune into CBS on that date than Spike TV. I wouldn’t be surprised for Dana White and the UFC brass to announce the re-air of a past pay-per-view instead of trying to air a live event opposite Strikeforce.
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