M-1 Global/Affliction settle lawsuit

September 5, 2011

Sherdog.com reports that Affliction and M-1 Global have settled its two year old lawsuit. The federal lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, California, was set to go to trial this October.

Fedor Emilianenko and M-1 Global’s attorneys filed a Notice of Settlement in late August informing the Court that the parties involved in the lawsuit had come to an agreement. The papers filed noted the settlement and requested to vacate all pre-trial deadlines and the October trial date.

As you might recall, this lawsuit stemmed from the failed Affliction PPV, “Trilogy.” More background info is here.

Also, J.R. Riddell of Sherdog.com provides a synopsis:

 [Fedor and M-1 Global’s] complaint alleged that after Josh Barnett refused licensure by the California State Athletic Commission because of a reported positive stroids test, Affliction breached its contract by refusing to promote the third and final fight called for under their “Fight Agreement.” They claimed Affliction did not undertake “all reasonable efforts” to find a fighter to replace Barnett…

One of the claims made by M-1 was that Affliction was trying to repair its relationship with the UFC and no longer wanted to promote its third PPV.

The lawsuit saw key figures in MMA deposed including UFC head Dana White, at the time Strikeforce head Scott Coker, Affliction’s Tom Attencio and Fedor.

This past June, the Court denied the parties’ motions for summary judgment (requests to dismiss the case on a party’s behalf). At the time, the Court advised the parties that they mediate the case in order to settle the matter short of trial. However, the parties did not settle. But, as with most heavily litigated cases where the result may be in doubt, the parties carved out a settlement short of the trial date.

While the Notice of Settlement filed with the court gave the parties the opportunity to reopen the case within 30 days of the notice, it is unlikely that would happen. In most instances, the parties leave this window in the event a party fails to hold up its end of the settlement (e.g., pay the negotiated settlement). More important to the litigants and their clients, the court deadlines were vacated meaning that further legal work (and legal fees) are avoided.

Zuffa Releases Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Three Golden Glory Fighters

August 4, 2011

Just a few days after Strikeforce HW champ Alistair Overeem was released by Strikeforce’s parent company Zuffa, MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko and three additional teammates of Overeem from the famed Golden Glory camp (Marloes Coenen, Valentijn Overeem, & John Olav Einemo) were all released.

Zuffa released Fedor Emelianenko after losing three fights in a row during his short stint under the Strikeforce banner. Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem were the two heavy favorites by both the media and fans before the Strikeforce HW Grand Prix commenced earlier this year. A few months later after Zuffa purchased Strikeforce, both fighters have been released from the promotion. After Emelianenko made his Strikeforce debut on CBS against Brett Rogers and won in exciting fashion, he lost his next three fights to Fabricio Werdum (Triangle Armbar), Antonio Silva (TKO Doctor Stoppage), and most recently against Dan Henderson (TKO Punches). Fedor went 1-3 in Strikeforce while earning a reported $1.5M per bout ($300,000 publically reported to Fedor, $1.2M to M-1 as a consulting fee).

The release was expected by many in the industry, considering the high price tag Fedor brought to the table and considering that his participation in the event forced Zuffa to co-promote the event with M-1 Global, who Zuffa has grown tiresome of after years of several failed negotiations to get Fedor into the UFC. Although the UFC claims that they have released Fedor from Strikeforce, M-1 Global’s Evgeni Kogan claims that Fedor’s contract “is with Showtime” and “doesn’t need Strikeforce to fight on Showtime”.

Fedor’s counterpart that evening also has a reported hefty price tag. Dan Henderson’s fight against Fedor was the last on his Strikeforce contract, and sources reported that he was making nearly $800,000 per bout, which meant that between Fedor and Henderson, they raked in nearly $2.3M in salary that evening. After the event that night, Strikeforce only had three champs under contract – Middleweight champ Jacare, Lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez, and Female Bantamweight Champ Miesha Tate. Heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem, Light Heavyweight champ Dan Henderson, Welterweight champ Nick Diaz, and female 145lbs champ Cris Cyborg Santos have all either left Strikeforce for the UFC or are currently free agents. After Dan Henderson’s big victory, it is expected that the UFC will be in negotiations to get the former Strikeforce LHW champ in the UFC roster as soon as possible, where he is rumored to take on an upper tier LHW where he could be one win away from a title shot or possibly take an immediate title shot. Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, and Phil Davis have recently come up in dialog as potential opponents if Henderson rejoins the company he walked away from last year. Henderson’s Clinch Gear brand was banned from the UFC before he signed with Strikeforce. Talks between both parties went on for months, trying to agree on a new contract and settle the sponsor fee imposed by the UFC, forcing the aging MMA legend to sign the lucrative contract with Strikeforce. The move allowed Clinch Gear to sponsor Fedor and fighters from several promotions outside of the UFC.


Marloes Coenen (19-5) – the former Strikeforce 135lbs champion – was cut after losing her title on Saturday night’s Strikeforce: Fedor vs Henderson’s co-main event to current champ Miesha Tate via Arm-Triangle-Choke in the 4th round. After fighting Cyborg Santos and then defeating Sarah Kaufman in a dramatic come-from-behind bout to become the champ, Coenen became one of the bigger names in the Strikeforce female roster. Her release was considered by most in the MMA industry as shocking considering that she was the champ, though Dana White’s negative remarks towards women’s MMA paints a grim future for the division. Coenen accumulated a 3-2 record in Strikeforce before being released.

Alistair Overeem’s older brother – Valentijn Overeem (29-26) – was part of the Strikeforce HW GP reserve bouts, where he first took on K-1 veteran Ray Sefo and easily defeated him via Neck Crank during the Strikeforce: Fedor vs Silva event, which was televised on Showtime. In the next round, he was defeated by Chad Griggs via submission (punches) in the first round during the undercard of the Strikeforce: Overeem vs Werdum bout just a few weeks ago. He had a 1-1 record in Strikeforce before he was released.

John Olav Einemo ( 6-2) was on a 5 year hiatus before being signed by the UFC to take on Shane Carwin at UFC 131. Due to an injury to Shane Carwin, Einemo instead fought HW prospect Dave Herman, which he lost by TKO (punches) in the second round. Einemo had a record of 0-1 in the UFC before being released.

Zuffa was able to cut Coenen, Valentijn, and Einemo because the standard fighter contract gives Zuffa the ability to cut any fighter coming off a loss. The only remaining member of Golden Glory left in Zuffa is Sergei Kharitonov, who is already schedule to fight in September against Josh Barnett as part of the Strikeforce HW Grandprix. Kharitonov is coming off an impressive win over Andrei Arlovski in the first round so he is still contracted to fight, though sources tell MMAPayout that if Kharitonov participates in the Ultimate Glory event scheduled for October in Moscow or if he loses, he will also be cut.

Alistair Overeem was coming off a win over Fabricio Werdum when he was released, though sources have informed MMAPayout that Zuffa was able to do so because they claim Overeem refused to fight on September, which would indicate a breach of contract and an immediate release. Overeem and the Golden Glory camp stated that Overeem had multiple injuries and would not be able to compete in September, though he is scheduled to appear in the same October Ultimate Glory event in Moscow with fellow camp member Kharitonov. The camp even released the latest episode of “The Reem” on the day of the release, which documents doctor visits revealing toe and rib injuries, trying to prove that a breach of contract did not take place.

Dana White told MMAFighting that the release of the Golden Glory members was due to the way the camp does business:

“This is actually a pretty simple explanation,” he said. “If you look back throughout history, we haven’t had any Golden Glory guys fight with us since Semmy Schilt, right? And the reason is we have very different business practices. It’s tough to do business with them. The bottom line is the way they do business is, you have to pay them, not the fighters. We don’t work that way. It’s not the way we do business. It’s not how it works in the United States with the athletic commissions. You don’t pay the managers and the managers pay the fighters. You pay the fighters and the fighters pay the managers.”

Regarding the pay situation, Marloes Coenen informed Josh Gross of ESPN that “she wants Golden Glory to handle payments because of tax purposes” and that “She’s paid direct and knows what she makes”. Others have stated that due to tax laws in different countries, this type of arrangement is necessary to do business.

According to our sources regarding Zuffa’s perspective, the items listed below were the reasons specified as to why the UFC cut ties with the camp and their fighters:

  • Having to go through the camp as a managing group and pay them instead of the fighters directly
  • Reports that Golden Glory wanted more money to be able to fight in September
  • Overeem publicly stating that he was going to quit MMA and box Vitali Klitschko, not having enough fights under contract for Overeem to complete the Strikeforce HW Grandprix & potentially being able to hold the belt hostage to either get a lucrative UFC deal or get a significant bump in pay
  • Appearing on a United Glory poster for the October Moscow event after turning down the September event due to injury along with an intent of United Glory to hold events here in the States within the next year

The other factor in all this is that Strikeforce’s deal with Showtime is up around February of 2012, so both the UFC and Showtime are trying to finish the GP by that time. October was the original date for the next event, but due to scheduling conflicts between Showtime and Zuffa, the event had to be moved to September. There is a strong possibility that Showtime will not renew the Strikeforce contract when it’s up next year in February/March. At that point Showtime can either replace the promotion with another or put their full effort into boxing. It is also expected that around that time Strikeforce could be be absorbed by the UFC, as most of their higher profile fighters are already making their way into the UFC.

M-1 Challenge 26 on Showtime averages 161,000 viewers

July 12, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Friday night’s showing of M-1 Challenge received an average viewership of 161,000 viewers. It was the organization’s second time on Showtime as the show broadcast from Costa Mesa, California.

Via MMA Junkie:

The number marks a 14.8 decrease in ratings from Showtime’s debut M-1 Challenge offering, which scored 189,000. By comparison, June’s Strikeforce Challengers 16 event, a similarly structured prospects-based event conducted under the Strikeforce banner, drew 210,000 viewers to Showtime.

Payout Perspective:

For a Friday night, these are good numbers. If you compare with Bellator’s Saturday night averages on MTV2, M-1 numbers are promising. Considering it was its second offering on Showtime, there’s room to grow. The smaller shows are really fun to watch and if you caught M-1’s show Friday you caught an amazing backfist knockout. It should be interesting to see how successful M-1 will be on Showtime.

Showtime Sports & M-1 Global Announce “M-1 Challenge: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa” Live On Showtime

February 23, 2011

As MMAPayout reported last week, Showtime and M-1 announce that the “M-1 Challenge” 3/25 event taking place in the U.S. will be televised live on the network.

SHOWTIME Sports and M-1 GLOBAL announced today an upcoming mixed martial arts (MMA) event entitled M-1 Challenge: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa featuring two M-1 GLOBAL title fights. The bouts will air LIVE on SHOWTIME on Friday, March 25 at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

Artiom Damkovsky will defend his M-1 Challenge Lightweight (155 lbs.) championship against Jose Figueroa, while Tyson Jeffries and Magomed Sultanakhmedov will battle for the vacant M-1 Challenge Middleweight (185 lbs.) belt from Constant Center in Norfolk, Va.

In other action, Alexander Sarnavskiy will take on Josh Bacallao in a lightweight scrap and Vinny Magalhaes will fight an opponent to be named in a light heavyweight (205 lbs.) matchup.

“I am extremely happy about the venture between M-1 Global and SHOWTIME. There is no better TV network for M-1 than SHOWTIME. And no better market to seriously compete in than the U.S.,” said Vadim Finkelchtein, co-founder of M-1 GLOBAL.

“Our ability to televise quality boxing and MMA fights at the highest level has been aided tremendously by our commitment to showcasing prospects and lesser known international stars on our feeder series like ShoBox: The New Generation and STRIKEFORCE Challengers,” said Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports. “M-1 Challenge events fit perfectly into that mold and will enhance our mixed martial arts offerings even further.”

Mauro Ranallo will call the action from ringside with Pat Miletich serving as analyst. The telecast will be produced by Chuck McKean and directed by Craig Farrell.  The executive producer of SHOWTIME Sports is David Dinkins, Jr.

For information on SHOWTIME Sports programming, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries, complete telecast information and more, please go to the new SHOWTIME Sports website at http://www.sho.com/sports.

Payout Perspective:

Negotiations between M-1 Global and Showtime have been ongoing since September of last year, and after several months of back-and-forth negotiations, it looks like the deal is now finally official.  The first televised event will be on March 25, held at the Constant Center in Norfolk, Va, where multiple M-1 Challenge titles will be on the line as Artiom Damkovsky defends his title against Jose Figueroa and Tyson Jeffries and Magomed Sultanakhmedov fight for the vacant Middleweight belt.

One interesting note from the press release is that Mauro Renallo and Pat Miletich will call the action on March 25, a fan-favorite combination for many fans who typically work on the Strikeforce Challenger events along side with Stephen Quadros.  Showtime using only a two man booth to televise an MMA event is something that they have not experienced much in the past, but many have clamored.

M-1 Challenge Returns to U.S. on 3/25, Showtime Debut Expected

February 17, 2011

Sherdog reports that the on March 25, M-1 Global will hold their first stateside M-1 Challenge event of 2011 in Norfolk, Virginia at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. MMAPayout was able to verify that Showtime has tentatively scheduled the event to be televised on the network.

Showtime is scheduling the event to air on the network on March 25, placing it in the 11:00PM – 1:30AM time slot. The deal was said to be a multiple event deal, 4 events, which would broadcast M-1 Challenge events on the network throughout the year, as MMAPayout reported back in September of 2010.

The M-1 Challenge event will be headlined by Lightweight champ Artiom Damkovsky, as he takes on 2010 M-1 Selection Americas tournament winner Jose Figueroa.

Payout Perspective

Back in September when MMAPayout broke the news regarding the negotiations between M-1 Global and Showtime, it was speculated that this was part of the deal in order for Fedor to re-sign with Strikeforce and keep him on board, which was a key piece since Strikeforce and Showtime were already working on putting the Heavyweight Grand Prix together.  Since that time, sources close to the negotiations have informed MMAPayout that this TV deal between Showtime and M-1 Global was seperate to the Fedor deal, and has been ongoing since September of 2010.

M-1 took a big blow with Fedor’s loss in the first round of the HW GP this past Saturday, as he almost announced his retirement on the network, but with Showtime TV set to air the M-1 Challenge events and Fedor’s most recent comments that he will continue to fight, the blow has at least softened a bit.

Strikeforce, Showtime, & M-1 Officially Announce HW Tournament

January 5, 2011

Strikeforce, Showtime, and M-1 Global make the long rumored and highly anticipated Strikeforce HW GP official. MMAPayout confirmed and reported the news yesterday, but below is the official release sent out today.

PRESS RELEASE – World championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotions STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL, in association with premium television network SHOWTIME have signed a new, multi-year agreement to co-promote events headlined by the MMA legend Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC).

In addition, STRIKEFORCE has assembled eight of the world’s top ranked heavyweights to compete in the STRIKEFORCE World Grand Prix – Heavyweight Tournament, a three-stage, single-elimination tournament that will take place over several events in 2011.  The first two quarterfinal fights begin on Saturday, Feb. 12, live on SHOWTIME from the IZOD Center in E. Rutherford, N.J. In the main event, the 34-year-old Emelianenko will face the towering Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (15-2) in a STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL co-promoted event.  Co-featured on Feb. 12, former world champion Andrei Arlovski (15-8) will face Sergei Kharitonov (16-4), the last man to defeat current STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight World Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem.

The other two quarterfinal matchups are as follows: Overeem (34-11, 1 NC) will face the only man to tap out Fedor, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1), while the heavy-handed Brett “The Grim” Rogers (11-2) will meet a hungry Josh Barnett (29-5). The location and date for these quarterfinal tournament fights are to be announced.

“We are thrilled to have come to a long-term agreement with Fedor and M-1 GLOBAL,” said STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker. “To have the greatest MMA fighter of all-time put his legacy on the line in a single-elimination tournament will truly captivate MMA fans worldwide. STRIKEFORCE is home to the best heavyweight division in the world; the athlete who runs the gauntlet in a tournament such as this would have to be considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world.”

“I’m very pleased to be working with SHOWTIME and STRIKEFORCE and Mr. Coker and Mr. Hershman personally. Thanks to their interest and efforts, we’ve created what will go down in history as MMA’s greatest heavyweight tournament of all time,” said Vadim Finkelchtein, co-founder of M-1 Global. “M-1, STRIKEFORCE and SHOWTIME have built a partnership committed to the future growth of MMA—a sport where organizations represent a working collaborative that enable the best fighters in the world to fight each other. This agreement benefits everyone, especially the fans who’ll see Fedor in action more often.

“With SHOWTIME’s significance in the U.S. and M-1’s development of the European and Asian MMA markets, the cooperation will also deliver a global roster of talented fighters to viewers,” Finkelchtein continued. “During the coming year, we’ll be showcasing spectacular Grand Prix events using the same M-1 Selection tournament format, a series of events generating enthusiastic spectator interest keeping fans glued to their screens.”

“I can’t think of a better way to start 2011 than with this major announcement,” said Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports®. “Fedor is universally known to sports fans throughout the world and it is an honor to continue our work with M-1 GLOBAL and STRIKEFORCE in presenting this legendary fighter to SHOWTIME subscribers.

“SHOWTIME has enjoyed great success with its two most recent boxing tournaments—the Super Six World Boxing Classic and The Bantamweight Tournament,” Hershman continued. “And now, with the breadth of talent in the STRIKEFORCE heavyweight division, we have the privilege of staging one of the biggest tournaments in the history of this growing sport.  With the STRIKEFORCE World Grand Prix’s single-elimination format and the biggest names in the sport today, this tournament is something that no sports fan will want to miss.”

“I have been training very hard since my last fight and can’t wait to get back in the cage,” said the 6-foot, 235-pound Emelianenko, who hails from Stary Oskol, Russia and is promoted by M-1 GLOBAL.  “STRIKEFORCE has assembled a roster filled with the best heavyweights in the world and, together with M-1 GLOBAL, we have the opportunity to fight the best in a great tournament format.”

Fedor’s unprecedented, record-setting run of 28 professional MMA bouts without a defeat has prompted many MMA enthusiasts to label Fedor as the greatest of all time. Since his career began 10 years ago, Fedor has faced and defeated many rival superstars and champions of this era including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Andrei Arlovski and Mark “The Hammer” Coleman.

In what ranks among the most watched MMA fights in the United States, Fedor made his live primetime network television debut on Nov. 7, 2009 on CBS, when he defeated unbeaten rising star Brett Rogers in a STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL co-promoted event.  Despite a difficult first round in which he sustained a deep cut above his eye, Fedor turned the tide early in the second round with one vicious right-hand punch and finished Rogers shortly after.

Then, on June 26, 2010, Fedor suffered a stunning upset at the hands of Werdum, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., in one of the most watched MMA bouts on SHOWTIME.  Werdum, who has defeated a host of top rivals including Overeem, Silva and Brandon “The Truth” Vera, trapped Fedor’s arm in a triangle armbar that forced Fedor to tap out at the 1:09 mark of the opening round.

Fedor has only one other official loss on his record, the result of a doctor stoppage due to a cut he sustained seconds into a matchup with Japan’s Tsuyoshi Kosaka on Dec. 22, 2000.  Fedor avenged the TKO loss with his own first-round TKO of Kosaka at a PRIDE Fighting Championships event in Japan on April 3, 2005.

Payout Perspective:

After the press release from Strikeforce, Showtime, and M-1, there are have been quite a few questions regarding the tournament, so I have gathered around some info detailing the event.

1) Strikeforce releases HW tournament bracket:

2) Notes from Josh Gross over at ESPN:

– Tournament will kick off on February 12 at the IZOD Center in New Jersey, where Fedor Emelianenko vs Antonio Silva will take place.

-Quarterfinals will likely take place in April, locations and dates TBA. Overeem vs Werdum and Brett Rogers vs Josh Barnett are expected on that show.

– Shane Del Rosario vs Lavar Johnson will take place on the February 12 event, where they will battle for the number one alternate for the event. Valentijn Overeem vs Ray Sefo is expected to be another reserve bout (per MMAJunkie), and Scott Coker has confirmed that Daniel Cormier, pending on his Strikeforce Challengers performance this week, could see him also in the mix.

– Alistair Overeem’s title will be on the line (5 round title fights), and hence why the bracket is shaped the way it is.  Overeem was given the winner of Werdum vs Fedor, and that winner will take on the winner of Fedor vs Silva, all who are legitimate contenders for the belt.  On the other side of the bracket, a worthy contender will be made between Barnett, Rogers, Kharitonov, and Arlovski to battle the champion in the finals.

– Fedor Signs 4-Fight Deal with Strikeforce, reported by Sherdog.

– M-1 Global is also working on finalizing a separate TV deal with Showtime, which should be announced in the next few weeks.

– The Strikeforce HW tournament announcement was showing on the ESPN News Ticker today. The Fedor vs Antonio Silva bout taking place on 2/12 in NJ was also showing yesterday. Great exposure for Strikeforce following the announcement.

– Strikeforce will try to work through the Josh Barnett situation, where he was not licensed in California.  Coker said Barnett supplied a clean sample to the CSAC 30 days ago and will apply for a license with the commission that will host the April event, which is not yet determined, as reported by Sergio Non over at USA Today.

– Scott Coker also mentioned that he is working on making Kawajiri vs Melendez this year, and is aiming at hosting the bout at the March Ohio event.  The Miesha Tate vs Marloes Coenen title bout is also being targeted for March.

3) Over at MiddleEasy, they have already jump started the fan campaign with a fan-made video of the tournament.

Fedor vs Silva Expected for Feb. 12 in NJ, Kicks Off Strikeforce HW GP

January 4, 2011

MMAPayout reported a few weeks ago of a potential Strikeforce Heavyweight tournament taking place this year, and it appears that more supporting information is starting to leak regarding the tournament.

Sherdog reports that Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio “Pezao” Silva is scheduled to take place on Feb. 12 in the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey along with other potential match-ups rumored for the upcoming events.

As speculated, Strikeforce will indeed hold an eight-man heavyweight tournament in 2011, and Emelianenko-Silva and Arlovski-Barnett are set to serve as quarterfinal bouts. Though the remaining combatants could not be confirmed, a third quarterfinal matchup between Fabricio Werdum and Brett Rogers is expected to take place in Columbus, Ohio, on a planned March 5 event.

A fourth and final tournament bout is also set to take place on the March card. Semi-final and final bouts would then be held later in the year at to-be-announced events.

The promotion will also hold two alternate bouts in case injury sidelines competitors in the main draw. Potential contestants could include “Challengers” series standouts Lavar Johnson, Daniel Cormier and Shane del Rosario.

MMAJunkie also reported on the tournament, though stating that Werdum vs Rogers may be off and a potential official announcement could be made in the next couple of days.

A third quarterfinal matchup between Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1 MMA, 3-0 SF) and Brett Rogers (11-2 MMA, 2-2 SF) reported as in the works for a March 5 event in Columbus, Ohio, is said to be off, sources said, though Werdum recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio he plans to compete at the spring event.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker declined to comment on the reported fights, though he said an “important announcement” about the tournament is due by Tuesday.

M-1 Global’s parent company and Russian website, MixFight released an official announcement stating that M-1 Global, Strikeforce, and Showtime have come to an agreement good for multiple years.  They also state that fighters such as Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett, Andrei Arlovski, Sergei Kharitonov and Brett Rogers (along with Fedor and Silva).

The release quotes Showtime Sports’ Ken Hershman, who according to the release, is thrilled to kickoff the year with a new deal and continuing to offer the best fighter in MMA history to it’s Showtime customers:

I could not imagine a more successful start in 2011. Fedor – a man widely known in fan circles around the globe. It is our great honor to continue cooperation with M- 1 Global and Strikeforce, through which our subscribers can enjoy fighting the best fighter in MMA history.

M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelstein shared some exciting and ambitious goals the parties involved have for 2011.

I am very pleased to collaborate with Showtime and Strikeforce, as well as Mr. Coker and Mr. Hershman. Together we can create a tournament that should go down in history as the greatest MMA tournament in the heavyweight division. The result of co-promotion between M-1, Strikeforce and Showtime will result in the development and growth in popularity of MMA across the world. This sport is beyond the scope of individual organizations. Our partnership enables us to arrange fights the best fighters in the world with each other. This new agreement will benefit everyone – especially the fans, who want to see Fedor fight as often as possible.

Fedor also shared his excitement in participating in the Strikeforce Heavyweight tournament.

After the fight with Werdum, I trained hard, I can not wait until I am inside the cage again. Strikeforce has in its ranks the best heavyweights in the world, and through co-promotion with M-1 Global, I have the opportunity to meet with them in a tournament format.

Payout Perspective:

There have been rumblings for a few months regarding the proposed HW tournament being proposed by Strikeforce.  MMAPayout sources were able to confirm back then that the tournament was going to happen.  The only questions in hand was the start of the tournament due to the M-1 negotiations and ironing out who will participate.  Josh Barnett must be cleared by the CSAC to be allowed to fight again while the contract negotiations with M-1 Global, Strikeforce and Showtime had to be finalized by this week in order to meet the new February date, since the original January 29 date was not met.

The only other question is when will Overeem fight, since he is rumored to participate in the tournament coming off the incredible achievement of winning the K-1 2010 World GP and defeating former UFC prospect Todd Duffe in the NYE Dynamite event in Japan.  He has said in the last few weeks that he would like to go on vacation after participating in the FEG events over in Japan, and would like to fight for Strikeforce again around May/June, though we are not sure if those plans are still in tact considering the first round of the HW GP should be over after the March 5th even in the Columbus, Ohio event.

Details regarding the new deal should be announced shortly, which was said to include an M-1 Challengers TV deal as well with Showtime.  The official announcement from Strikeforce should be coming in the next few days.

Fedor Deposed and an Affliction attorney withdraws from M1/Affliction case

August 24, 2010

Last week we gave you an update on the case involving M-1 and Fedor Emelianenko suing Affliction for breach of contract due to Affliction abruptly canceling its third PPV.

According to Marc Hines, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Fedor and Fedor’s manager, Vadim Finkelstein were deposed two weeks ago in Southern California. Fedor’s deposition took one day and he utilized a court interpreter to respond to questions. “I thought our guys came across really well. We are really pleased with their testimony,” said Hines of his clients.

Hines stated that Todd Beard, the former co-owner of Affliction, will be deposed this week.

Also, Judd Burstein, the  high profile New York attorney that served as co-counsel for Affliction has filed a motion to withdraw as its counsel. Burstein had represented Affliction for a little over a month as on July 20th the court granted Burstein’s application to represent Affliction. According to court filings, Affliction determined it “unnecessary to employ two sets of counsel in this matter.” A motion on this issue will be heard on November 1st. Hines indicated that Fedor and M-1 would not oppose Burstein’s motion for withdrawal. The law firm of Silverstein & Huston remains as attorneys of record for Affliction.

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.

Affliction Countersues M-1 Global

May 31, 2010

Loretta Hunt of Sherdog.com is reporting that Affliction has countersued M-1 Global by asking for declaratory relief on the validity of a “consultation agreement” between Affliction and M-1.

Affliction Entertainment filed a countersuit against M-1 Global, the management and promotional group that reps Fedor Emelianenko, in Los Angeles federal court on Thursday, asking for declaratory relief on the validity of a “Consultation Agreement” signed into by the two parties in April 2008 — allegedly under false pretenses. Affliction is also asking the court to rule that M-1 Global return $2.4 million in consulting fees it was paid in conjunction with two Affliction MMA events the two groups co-promoted in July 2008 and January 2009.

In the filings obtained by Sherdog.com, Affliction claims it, under M-1 Global’s directive, entered into two separate agreements with Emelianenko and the Holland-based organization to procure the services of the world’s No. 1 heavyweight as a headliner for three events.

According to Affliction, the California-based promotion inked a “Fight Agreement” that tendered $300,000 to Emelianenko per bout he participated in, while Affliction was directed to pay the remaining $1.2 million of Emelianenko’s $1.5 million asking purse per bout directly to M-1 Global under the auspice of a “Consultation Agreement.”

“The reason for the two agreements, Affliction was told, was for personal tax implications,” reads the countersuit.

Affliction claims no consultation was ever agreed upon or given by the M-1 Global group for the two events.

“Because the consulting agreement was a sham contract designed to avoid tax obligations, M-1 had no obligations to perform pursuant to the consulting agreement and therefore rendered no performance under the consulting agreement,” alleges Affliction’s filings.

Affliction is asking the court to deem the consulting agreement unlawful and that M-1 Global refund the $2.4 million it initially collected for the two events, plus a 10 percent interest rate per year along with attorney’s fees.

Payout Perspective:

We’d all heard of these so called “consulting agreements” when the Affliction-M1 deal was signed. Most viewed it for what it was: purely a tactic designed to extract more money out of the organization. It was the price Affliction had to pay for playing the Fedor game. Now they’ve conveniently turned around and said, “hey, this probably wasn’t on the up and up.”

I guess my question is, whose fault is that? Affliction – and Strikeforce, for that matter – knew what it was getting into when it signed the deal.

Hopefully the MMA community can learn from this: don’t sign the wrong deal for the wrong reasons. Moreover, you can’t bet the farm on one fighter (especially an unknown within your own domestic market).

This could get ugly. It would seem that both sides are prepared to battle this out in court, which could take a while (and a fair degree of money).