Maybe it’s because I didn’t get much sleep last night. Maybe it’s because I skipped breakfast this morning. Maybe it’s because I’m on my third cup of coffee. Or maybe, just maybe, I picked the wrong week to stop sniffin’ glue.
For some reason, I’m feeling crazy this morning. Really crazy. Just how crazy are we talking?
Check this out: Dana White should take M-1 Global up on their “Fedor vs. Velasquez” offer—with a twist, that is.
First off, if you don’t know: Executive director of M-1 Global Evgeni Kogan recently tweeted Dana White with the suggestion that Fedor Emelianenko fight Cain Velasquez in a co-promoted stadium show in Russia. The basis for making this request is that Fedor just drew big live-gate numbers for his fight with Jeff Monson in Russia, proving there is a demand for “The Last Emperor” inside his home country.
Makes sense, right?
Well no, actually, it doesn’t. Not at first glance, anyways.
M-1 somehow figured that a slow, plodding decision over Jeff Monson was just the sort of leverage they needed to make the UFC interested in Fedor again. You know, after the three straight crushing defeats, the strong-arm negotiation tactics, the badmouthing in the press, the constant contract renegotiations, the hand-picked opponents and all the other things that have made M-1 such a joy to watch these last few years.
Remember when Dana called M-1 management “those crazy Russians”? Yeah, history really came down on one side of that one, didn’t it?
Dana’s response to this offer was predictable: “Hell no!” And really, that’s an understandable position after the years of migraines Vadim Finkelstein and friends have caused the UFC president. To go by most fans, what Dana should do the next time Vadim calls is pick up the phone and just laugh, slowly and maniacally, until Vadim hangs up.
But hold on a second. If nothing else, Dana White (and the Fertitta brothers) has proven he is a man who puts business above all else. Just look at the bridge he eventually mended with Tito Ortiz, a man he once came close to fighting himself. Their ability to put business over personal matters has reaped huge financial rewards for both men.
If Dana is really that shrewd a business man (and I think he is), he should recognize that a unique opportunity exists here. That’s because, for one rare moment, M-1 Global actually has a valid point: Fedor Emelianenko’s name is still enough to fill a stadium in Russia, recent losses and all. No other brand name in MMA—even the hallowed powerhouse of the UFC—can safely make that claim.
Dana should take Kogan and M-1 up on their offer, but with a twist.
M-1 wants Fedor versus Cain, which is, to put it nicely, not going to f*cking happen. Cain’s a bigger name than Fedor (stateside, anyways), higher ranked, and let’s be honest—recent loss aside, he’d likely smash Fedor in a fight that would prove nothing. M-1’s asking for this fight, after Cain’s recent loss on network TV, is craven promoter-speak at its finest.
Dana should present them a counter-offer. Same stadium show in Russia. Same big payday. Same stoic Russian guy with the beer belly standing in one corner.
And in the other corner?
Why, the winner of the Strikeforce HW Grand Prix, of course!
It would be perfect. The HW Grand Prix has lost most of it’s luster after the acquisition of Strikeforce by the UFC, the departure from the tourney of Ubereem, and the first-round collapse of the aforementioned Fedor. Really, there’s next to nothing riding on the outcome of what was once billed as “the biggest tournament in MMA history.”
So give it this. Make the winner of this fight the man who’s going to Russia for a stadium superfight with Fedor.
Because really, what the hell else are Josh Barnett or Daniel Cormier going to do with their time? After they win the GP, they won’t be able to challenge for the Strikeforce title (Overeem took it with him to the UFC) and will thus sit in limbo on Showtime until the inevitable shuttering of Strikeforce’s doors.
And then what? They move to the UFC and become just another heavyweight contender? Is that what all the hype, expense and effort on the Strikeforce GP REALLY went into building? Just another guy?
So send the winner to fight Fedor. Either man would be the PERFECT opponent for a Russian stadium show opposite Emelianenko, far better and more appropriate than Cain Velasquez. If it’s Barnett, we get a “senior’s circuit” fight that harkens back to Pride’s glory days. If it’s Cormier, it’s the all-American Olympian going to Russia to battle their national hero. It’s Rocky 4, only better, real and Apollo Creed doesn’t have to die.
In short, it makes a certain kind of sense. And I think Dana White should do it.
Then again, that could just be the glue talking.