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Strikeforce To Hold MMA Tourney Featuring Fedor On Showtime
Published January 5, 2011
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker's "desire to promote a single-elimination heavyweight tournament in 2011 has come to fruition," as a eight-man field was announced yesterday, according to Josh Gross of ESPN.com. Four of the eight fighters "signed up for the main draw will compete in first-round matchups" on Feb. 12 at Izod Center. Showtime "expects to televise each of the event's three legs." Showtime and Strikeforce officials said that the remaining quarterfinal fights "will likely take place in April;" the date and location are yet to be determined. Gross noted "key to completing the tournament field" was Fedor Emelianenko, the "consensus top heavyweight in MMA for seven years" before losing to Fabricio Werdum last June. Emelianenko's manager, Vadim Finkelstein, confirmed that the fighter "signed a four-event extension with Showtime and Strikeforce just before the new year." That ended "arduous contract talks between Emelianenko's promoter, M-1 Global, Strikeforce and Showtime that kept the Russian out of action for the second half of 2010." Sources said that Showtime "took the lead in negotiations," though Showtime Sports Exec VP & GM Ken Hershman said that that "characterization wasn't accurate." Hershman: "This is just three parties coming together trying to work a deal that made sense for everyone." Gross noted neither the "semifinal nor final rounds have firm dates or locations," but Coker said, "If there's not any injuries, we think we could wrap it up by the end of September" (ESPN.com, 1/4).
IT'S SHOWTIME: Finkelstein yesterday said, "The fact of whether or not M-1 fighters would appear on Showtime is not connected to this particular deal with Fedor. It is something that we've talked about for a very long time, ever since we started talking about Fedor and his contribution to MMA. Recently Ken Hershman and Showtime executives came to Moscow and saw some of the shows that we do there, because they've always been interested in whatever product we could offer to them. It's something that was always discussed and something that always existed." He added a deal for M-1 fighters to appear on Showtime is "very close" to coming to fruition. When asked what role Showtime execs played in helping broker a deal between Emelianenko and Strikeforce, Finkelstein said, "Showtime has obviously made a great investment in the sport of MMA. That's something that we from Russia appreciated greatly. ... The truth is, a deal like this would not have been possible without their involvement. I like the way that Ken Hershman and his staff approached us and dealt with us and treated us" (USATODAY.com, 1/5).