Fedor Loss Not the End of the World

June 28, 2010

He lost. He’s not the invincible machine that everyone thought. He’s human.

Is that not the beauty of this sport? Mixed martial arts has a way of mimicking the trials and tribulations of life in a manner that few sporting events can. The moment that Fedor decided to become more aggressive is the moment that he became perilously vulnerable. How often is that not the case in real life?

Forget the hyperbole you’re hearing. This is not the end of the world. Fedor lost, but losses happen – to everyone – in life and in sport. It’s the ability of someone to bounce back that really matters, and Fedor will have his opportunity.

That is why I’m inclined to think the situation is still very workable for Strikeforce. There was obviously interest in Fedor fighting Overeem, but there’s now probably even greater interest in Fedor fighting Werdum in an immediate rematch. Why? The fans will want to see whether Fedor’s loss was an aberration or a true representation of his fighting ability.

And this is different than a Chuck Liddell fall from grace. It’s not as if Fedor has lost his chin or reflexes – he got caught. That fact may even endear him to fans in a way that a victory over Werdum could not have accomplished. He’s human after all, and that’s something fans can obviously associate with.

Fedor’s return

The question is not, will Fedor be back or will the fans be interested, but what will Strikeforce do to leverage Fedor’s next, and potentially last, fight to improve the organization? The company cannot afford to have this fight accomplish nothing; to have this fight become another one-off that leads to zero gain in terms of awareness, interest, and product consumption. If Strikeforce is going to leverage Fedor in any way, the preparation has to start now.

The first step is to address the Strikeforce roster. The company has been working to sign some really great talent, but none of them have really been given the opportunity to fight on the big stage. If Fedor is gone after this next fight (worst case scenario), then who fills the void? The organization can’t ride UFC and Pride retreads into the limelight.

An obvious solution is to devote more time to showcasing homegrown or emerging talent. The forthcoming middleweight tournament is a perfect avenue to do so, but what beyond that is my question. There needs to be some sort of matchmaking structure and hierarchy that pushes these young guys up the ladder and into more prominent roles within each division.

The other problem is PR. I’ve harped on it before, and I’ll do it again: there’s no consistent information flow between the organization and the fan base. The information gaps might be excusable if Strikeforce were only running four shows a year, but it’s running at least one show per month. Where is the content? This absolutely HAS to change. Strikeforce needs to be communicating with its fans, telling stories and driving interest in its product.

The Challengers Series is just sitting there for all intents and purposes. With the exception of last week, the series has yet to really gain any sort of traction with the fans, the media, or even Strikeforce itself. The organization should be using these monthly events as a way to develop a consistent relationship with the fans.

And if Strikeforce can structure its matchmaking and improve its PR, it may be able to leverage the presence of Fedor, its relationship with Electronic Arts, and the release of its video game to build some awareness and interest in earnest. It’ll be able to use the Fedor fight to shine some light on all of the great things actually going on within the organization. This instead of just having the fight seem like a one-off for fans that won’t pay attention to the organization until the next time Fedor is in the cage.

UFC still lingering

It appeared that all hope of Fedor signing with the UFC had been eliminated after a report surfaced last week alleging that the UFC blocked Tapout from sponsoring the Russian, but this loss does change things slightly. Instead of Fedor not needing the UFC, it’s now the UFC that doesn’t necessarily need Fedor.

The loss won’t change any of the resentment or animosity that has built up between the two factions, but time can heal certain wounds once some of the egos have been removed from the equation. Fedor will still carry a hefty price tag due to his extreme following among the hardcore ranks, but the UFC may still look to sign him once the dust settles in the next few months.

Like I said the other day: nothing in this business is ever quite as it seems.

15 Responses to “Fedor Loss Not the End of the World”

  1. Stan Kosek on June 28th, 2010 7:17 AM

    Good article and I am really intrigued to see how this moves forward… if he wants to continue to fight in the U.S. I would imagine M-1 will have to change their strategy a little, they really marketed Fedor as almost a mythical unbeatable type fighter, well that is gone and he wasn’t familiar enough with the casual fans to make his comeback a hugely intriguing marketing tool to the casual fan (as a big MMA fan I am extremely intrigued to see how his career plays out).

    The timing is so interesting, with one fight left how can SF do anything big with him unless he resigns? You can’t give him a Werdum rematch with no extension because if he beats him he gains so much more leverage. Really have to kick back and see how this plays out.

  2. aveboogie on June 28th, 2010 7:32 AM

    Fedor didn’t “get caught”. He foolishly fought in the one area Werdum had a chance. The guy is one of the greatest practitioners of BJJ EVER and Fedor didn’t show any respect for it.

  3. Machiel Van on June 28th, 2010 8:36 AM

    Wow. I never would’ve thought the end of Fedor’s unbeaten streak would be through his own mistake in competition. He really just dived right into Werdum’s guard recklessly. I think M-1 Global will definitely have to change their negotiation strategy-let’s just hope Scott Coker is smart enough not to put up with any b.s. from them anymore. I really don’t have much interest in seeing a Werdum/Fedor rematch. I’ve got to be honest, if he doesn’t go to the UFC now there’s just not a lot of intrigue that surrounds him anymore. The only thing that made him so intriguing despite not fighting the best competition possible was that he was unbeaten. Still a great fighter with two interesting match-ups remaining outside the UFC (Werdum, Overeem), but not nearly as interesting as they were before June 26.

  4. Machiel Van on June 28th, 2010 8:37 AM

    I really hope Coker is kidding when he says they may still do a Fedor PPV.

  5. mmaguru on June 28th, 2010 9:23 AM

    Fedor’s loss has a huge impact simply by the fact that he was the only fighter ranked #1 that was not part of the UFC. Sure, he had a magical record fighting for years without a loss, however, one could argue in the last few years he has not fought the best (I believe he has fought sufficient level of fighters). Now that the UFC has all the top guys, it’s pretty much checkmate. It’s going to take an act of god at this point to change the landscape of MMA over the next 4-5 years.

    >> Strikeforce needs to be communicating with its fans, telling stories and driving interest in its product.

    I agree that the above comment is Strikeforce’s biggest issue. They are in the fight business, but sometimes I wonder if they know how to promote properly. They need to focus a lot more attention on the promotion of their events and fights in general. What difference does it make if Werdum fights Fedor again if no one cares to watch it?

    >>Instead of Fedor not needing the UFC, it’s now the UFC that doesn’t necessarily need Fedor.

    For Fedor it’s all about fighting, I believe him when he says this. For his business partner’s it’s still about money. I think we are now closer than ever in seeing Fedor fight in the UFC. Fedor’s business partners/managers goal is to make the most money possible and at this point Fedor can no longer be sold as the #1 guy. I really think Dana and M1 or whoever represents Fedor at the time will come to terms and Fedor will fight in the UFC. It is the only real possibility of Fedor to make real money outside of Japan.

    Machiel, I agree. I think Coker should cut his loses and put together the real fight that everyone wants to see. Werdum vs Overeem. Although I would like to see a rematch with Werdum, it doesn’t make sense to leave your champ sitting there waiting for that to happen.

  6. jv on June 28th, 2010 12:46 PM

    >”An obvious solution is to devote more time to showcasing homegrown or emerging talent. The forthcoming middleweight tournament is a perfect avenue to do so.”

    As much as it pains me to say so we are never going to see a tournament out of Strikeforce. They just aren’t capable of it. Coker has been talking tournaments for as long as he has been around and hasn’t gotten it done. They said they were going to announce the ladies 135lb tournament on the Werdum v Fedor show. Any body hear any thing? They already game up on the 145 tournament after talking it up for months.

    And ya, communications sucks rhinos. I read that they only have a staff of 10 which probably includes the ring girls. A director of communications needs to be the next hire.

  7. mmaguru on June 28th, 2010 1:43 PM

    Salary number are out, 789K (400K for Fedor)
    12,600 Gate @ $1,066,000

  8. Brain Smasher on June 28th, 2010 11:33 PM

    Fedor got what he deserved. Now the question is did strikeforce benefit? I think if they play their cards right and deny Fedor a rematch they can come out smelling like a rose. Fedor needs to beat Werdum before anyone else does to get back cred. Until then he has no leverage. Strikeforce needs to Negotiate his price down and get him on a long term deal and tell M-1 to fuck off.

    If they dont use this loss to take away Fedors BS demands and use their asset againast him for once then they will come out losing their ass. Right now they have a guy who draws no fans and lost his only asset while they pay him huge sums of money, have no control of who and when he fights, and have to give profits away to M-1 for co promoting.

    To be honest if would part ways with Fedor if i was SF. You stole his credibility and give it to Werdum and your HW class. Why give it back to someone you cant control who is slowing your promotion down? Also i would shy away from only expensive long term deal because he will lose again. He hasnt faced young modern competition since the beginning of his career in Pride. If he starts dropping fight do you really want a long term deal paying him millions? Cut ties and Fedor will go back and fight over seas. He knows fighting in the UFC will end his career. He cant beat the top fighters over there. Although i would pay a small fortune to see Junior Dos Santos beat him down.

  9. Surgieo on June 29th, 2010 1:52 AM

    Question?…So how would SF improve their PR? What exactly would they need to do? It seems like they have a limited audience with Showtime and their CBS deal is on a show by show basis (I think their CBS deal will come back but their track record says only 2-3 shows per year) What type of PR push are we talking about to take Strikeforce to the next level?

    I know its clieche to say”I dont watch tv” but I dont (hell,I dont even have cable,dont want it either)but I get all my tv happenings from my bro jacob and he was telling me how we are going into “the dog days of summer”and how there is nothing on tv and and how 3 moths ago would have been a good time to plan and execute either a tourney(simular to what Bellator did) or a series of shows,or at least one big show on CBS to help fill this void cuz there would be no competition but I somewhat disagreed & said they needed something like the Playoffs to piggyback off of to plug thier shows.Again..what type of PR push would Strikeforce need to make this work and take them to the next level?

    Also,Im gonna assume that the reason Strikeforce has not done any PR groundwork is beacuse they do not have the cash and limited connections to do so?! Brain Smasher,mmagruru,etc can you give me your insights to my comments? thanks!!

  10. Diego on June 29th, 2010 5:58 AM

    “Fedor got what he deserved”? Huh? What does that mean? Fedor made a mistake – he jumped into the guard of the reigning ADCC champion and left an arm in. Bashers will now say that they saw it coming for a long time, but if you bet against Fedor for a long time you would be broke by now. Congratulations Brain, after years of being wrong you finally called it. Fedor lost, he must have been overrated all this time. Whatever.

    “[Fedor] knows fighting in the UFC will end his career.” How do you know that? What evidence do you have? He’s beaten three former UFC champs – Nogueira when he was ranked #1, Arlovsky when he was ranked #2 and Sylva when he was top 5. Based on his actions, I don’t think Fedor fears competition, and I don’t think he fears the end of his career, but only Fedor knows for sure.

    Brain, call it now – will Fedor win the rematch with Werdum? I think he wins it easily. That’s my call.

  11. Machiel Van on June 29th, 2010 8:26 AM

    Surgieo,

    Strikeforce needs to up their PR in terms of communicating with fans about upcoming shows and possible future plans, anything to keep their name in the media and keep fans talking about them. These long periods of time in between major shows with no announcements whatsoever is going to continue to stifle the growth of their brand. They also need to, in my opinion, hold off on announcing cards until they are complete (they tend to announce that Robbie Lawler another star will be on an upcoming card, but it’s impossible to really get excited about the fight because the opponent will be “TBA” until a week before the fight, or even the week of the fight). Also, there is little to no buildup whatsoever to their fights coming from the promotion. If Strikeforce wants to garner more interest in their cards, they really need to produce some sort of ancillary programming for TV, the internet, or ideally both to explore the storyline of the fighters, as well as what the fights themselves mean. They also need to establish some sort of divisional hierarchy so fighters know what it will take to earn a title shot, and I’m not talking about establishing a #1 contender catch-weight bout that has implications for two weight classes (shame on you Coker, shame…). You know matchmaking needs some work when you have Jan Finney challenging Cyborg Santos with Erin Toughill on the sidelines.

    Diego,

    Since Fedor, as you put it, “jumped into the guard of the reigning ADCC champion and left an arm in,” he got submitted, which he “deserved” for making such a brash misjudgment against aforementioned ADCC champion.

    Also, Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski are part of the “old” mma guard. I think people just want to see what Fedor can do against the “new” standard of mma talent, which are fighters like JDS and Cain Velasquez who are young, fast, have heavy hands and are constantly learning and improving, not stagnant talents with declining physical skills that many of the veterans have unfortunately turned into.

  12. Diego on June 29th, 2010 11:36 AM

    Van,

    “Deserved” has connotations of schadenfreude (sp?) and that’s what rubs me the wrong way. Especially when phrased as “got what he deserved”.

    Tim and Andrei may have been part of the old guard, but they were highly rated when Fedor fought them and that’s what matters. Carwin’s biggest win is against Mir, who is also part of the old guard and Cain’s is against Nogueira, again part of the old guard, but it doesn’t matter, both Mir and Nogueira are top 10 guys and those wins matter.

    I want to see top fighters fight top talent, not necessarily young talent. The point is to fight top guys, not young guys. The man in boxing is Klitschko, and he’s also part of the old guard but he’s still the man to beat. That’s how it goes.

  13. Machiel Van on June 29th, 2010 12:52 PM

    Diego I agree with you, I was just trying to illustrate that it seems like Fedor’s detractors want him to fight fighters whose careers are heading in a positive direction with momentum. I think his victories against Arlovski and Sylvia were solid.

  14. Brain Smasher on June 29th, 2010 7:33 PM

    Good post Mr Van. Prides fighters started declining long ago before the UFC merger. When you look into the history of MMA and realize that champs only last about 2 years on average and Prides last 6+ years and their was no sign of new talent. How was Prides top fighters able to prove they were not getting old? By beating other guys who were getting old? There is a reason Fedor didnt jump in the UFC with the young blood. He can not beat them. JDS and Cain would eat him alive. Maybe Carwin and Brock too. Others would have a good chance like Kongo and Mir and soon guys like Shuab and Duffee. Fedor choose to jump right back into the pool of fighters who come from Pride. Werdum and Overeem.

    Diego

    Arlovski and Syliva were not top 5 when Fedor beat them. Arlvoski struggled with Nelson and needed a gift stand up. He struggled with Obrien. Ended his UFc career with a couple unimpressive fights. On top of that he was killing Fedor. Outside of a weak chin many have taken advantage of he wins that fights. Sylvia was lucky to be top 10 at the time. He had lost to Couture and Nog. After losing to Fedor and Mercer it was clear he probably wasnt even top 30. Same for AA after getting beat by Bum Rogers and Silva. It is clear neither of them are top fights.
    Fan biys always cling to Fedor pulling out a fight he is losing. Thats not a good sign. Name 1 other great fighter who struggles to put any fighters they are better than? GSP dont get his ass kick. Anderson Silva dont get his ass kicked. Only Fedor can get mounted by Hunt, Beatdown by Arlovski, Pounded by Rogers, etc and it not mean anything.

    Surgieo

    Strikeforce needs to figure out what they want to do. Their decisions seem to not be very well thought out. They take risks(Fedor/co promotion) that a company with long term goals shouldnt. First they need to use Werdum to leverage Fedor into a long term, cheap deal without M-1. So they can actually depend on him and have him as an assett. Then they need a better TV deal. Showtime isnt getting it done. I never know when their challanger series is on and i never miss MMA events. I watch ametuer MMA in Ohio on FSN yet i dont know SF is having an event. Showtime isnt putting any money behind SF and its because the deal SF signed. There is no advertising and few people even have Showtime. They need to get a basic cable tv deal. SF can boast about its ratings all they want being good for a premium channel. But its not enough eyes on the product. Zuffa is beating them on Spike TV with Unleashed, UFN’s, TUF, Countdown shows, Primetime shows, reruns of UFC events, and even Best of Pride events beat them. They need a network who is behind them 100%. Not Showtime and CBS who just keep them around because they are cheap and bring them money.

    Until they do that they just cant be depended on.

  15. Bill on July 28th, 2010 10:35 AM

    Nice article. People are blowing the loss way out of porportion. It was his first real loss in over a decade and aside from a single mistake (rushing into Werdum’s guard), he’s been nearly perfect. Actually, I don’t even think he’s ever even lost a single round since his fight with Arona back in the rings promotion.

    I think he needs a dominant win in his next fight against a credible opponent. He either needs to redeem himself in a rematch with Werdum or fight Overeem. Aside from those 2 fights, there’s not much left for him in Strikeforce. Bigfoot would be a challenge as he’s an extremely well rounded fighter but of course, people would just write him off as a “can” if Fedor wins.

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