Apparently Fedor’s first opponent in Strikeforce may be RICCO RODRIGUEZ according to multiple sources (MMA Junkie, Steve Cofield). RICCO. ROD. RIGUEZ.
Absolutely 100% farm-fresh government certified industrial-strength NO BUYS. In fact it’s so tremendously NO BUYS that it tells you exactly who has the whip-hand in the Strikeforce/M1 “partnership”, if the first opponent selected to build to a Fedor-headlined PPV is someone with name recognition only to hardcores, who are precisely the fan population who knows what sort of competition Rodriguez actually represents at this stage of his career. But in the meantime M1 and Fedor will get a healthy check for fighting guys a half-step above tomato-can status who represent no risk, and if the PPV does bloodbath numbers they aren’t on the hook for any of the losses because their “co-promotional” deals are structured to shield them.
The amazing thing is just how tone-deaf a move this would be by M1. At a time when more fans than ever are convinced by the Fedor-fears-competition-he’s-not-really-that-good narrative they’re throwing him in there with an opponent who last had a really meaningful fight in 2003 when he went 0-3 in consecutive fights against Tim Sylvia, Big Nog and Pedro Rizzo to wash out of both UFC and Pride, never to return. Since then he’s lost every meaningful fight he’s had against the likes of Travis Wiuff, Jeff Monson, Bigfoot Silva, Ben Rothwell, etc. and lost his last nationally televised fight against Silva by showing up pudgy and indolent. 17 of his 27 post-UFC opponents don’t even have wikipedia entries, and wiki has articles on the likes of Jimmy Ambriz and Rob Broughton. It doesn’t matter if Fedor crushes Rodriguez in the first 15 seconds, which he might; there’s no way to escape from or hide the fact that the matchup itself is a joke which proves nothing, which means Strikeforce/M1 would be essentially promoting on their own television the exact line of argument which Zuffa are using to discredit them.
There are real and serious if not quite top-class heavyweights for Fedor to face in Strikeforce: Fabricio Werdum, Brett Rogers, Paul Buentello, Bigfoot Silva himself if you could get him licensed, even some of the light heavyweights like Gegard Mousasi would be better- if not great- choices. That the people in charge might be thinking of unearthing Rodriguez says it all really. Hopefully this one turns out to either be pure rumor, or a working idea that gets shot down by fan revolt.
The big ZOMGFEDOR news of the day is that eventually someone from M1 was found to deny yesterday’s leak (presumably from the UFC side) of the contract terms which Carmichael Dave reported that he had confirmed previously with M1. Now it’s possible the right hand and left at M1 aren’t in communication, or Dave is just wrong or lying here, or someone at M1 accidentally confirmed this before they had decided as a group how to respond. But leave all that aside for the moment; in what way is M1’s denial an actual denial? They claim that such terms were never offered- that may well be true, depending on how you interpret certain clauses or phrases. But there’s two ways to respond to that. One is simply to deny it, as they’ve done, and emphasize that you continue to demand things which were never mooted in the leak as being part of the offered deal. That’s what you say if you’re playing for PR and don’t want an actual deal of the type which was leaked- notice how the comments from M1 emphasize their claim that Fedor and M1 are the same thing, and that all of the M1 circus has to be included as part of any agreement. Their “denial” boils down to a reemphasis that no deal is possible along the lines of the leaked framework virtually regardless of the dollar figures.
The other option is this: you call UFC’s bluff. Put out a press release which says in effect that no such terms were ever offered, but if UFC would care to make the generous offer which has been discussed in the press that M1 would be happy to agree to a deal in principle along those lines. That’s the press release you put out if you’re actually looking to get a deal done with UFC and are simply trying to extract every last dime in the process. Even if you don’t actually mean it, it’s an obvious PR spin move to rally public support if you intend to continue negotiations. What’s obvious at this point is that there’s a fundamental divide between what UFC considers (in my view rightly) to be reasonable and what M1 is willing to accept- if anything. Draw your own conclusions as to why.
“ll I can say on this is both sides are putting out propaganda attempting to get the public to see things their way. In the end the issue isn’t money to Fedor as much as control of Fedor and M-1 Global won’t give up that control unless they have no other alternative. Right now, they still believe there are alternatives. ”
“Control”. When a manager “controls” his client and theoretical ownership partner…there’s a story.
Carmichael Dave on the Underground provided the actual terms of the last UFC offer to Fedor. In short: 6 fights for $30 million guaranteed, immediate title shot, promotional cut of PPV revenue to M1 over and above Fedor’s purse, Fedor allowed to wear as much M1 gear as he liked, yes to combat sambo. They turned this down.
Think about what their motives for doing so were.
EDIT: Apparently Carmichael Dave said on his show that he verified these numbers with M1 as well before reporting them.
There is a story…much as there is a house in New Orleans…going around about an additional request from Fedor’s side to have elbows on the ground banned for his fights. God knows if that one’s true, but it tells you something that it’s even believable. And if it is…I mean, seriously. These are not good faith negotiations, they’re a PR stunt, and a bad one at that.
Apparently that Fedor/M-1 presser today was a completely ridiculous affair, highlighted by Finkelchtein or someone suggesting that it was important for MMA to have competition to the UFC, so UFC should co-promote with M1 on all events with Fedor. They really said this.
If you ever wonder why Fedor isn’t in the UFC, it’s not because Fedor’s scared or UFC isn’t paying enough, or because Fedor wants his SAMBO (which is an enormous red herring), or anything at all other than that the M1 people are intransigent crazies who at best don’t have a quarter of a clue, and at worst DO have a clue and also a completely separate agenda. Which of those it is I don’t know; I do know that if I were the UFC braintrust I’d be incredibly hesitant to do any kind of serious business with these people, especially if I didn’t need to. UFC doesn’t really need to; in the end that may be the most important factor.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens to Fedor 5-10 years after he retires.
“–The only thing we can say on the subject is that two different sources have told us negotiations between UFC and Fedor have fallen through again.”
I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: Fedor is in serious danger of becoming a joke, entirely because of the ridiculous and shady behavior of the people surrounding him. This isn’t 2002 when there was a seriously competitive and arguably superior other promotion for top level fighters to compete in; if Fedor doesn’t end up in UFC he ends up- from a competitive and possibly a business perspective- nowhere, and the only real reason that might happen is the creepy behavior of the M1 team. There’s serious rumors out there about who these guys are and who they represent, but leave that aside for the moment; ask yourself this question: why are something like 80% or more of the monies paid to Fedor for his fights channeled into M1 instead of being paid to the fighter directly? Why are people who claim to be looking out for Fedor’s best interests holding his career hostage in order to hopefully win a co-promotional deal which won’t result in greater revenues directly paid to the fighter whose ability is the driving force behind M1’s demands? Fedor got $300,000 on the books for each Affliction fight (plus a previous undisclosed signing bonus), and the last reported UFC offer was something like $5 million a fight. If you gave a damn about Fedor and were negotiating in good faith on his behalf, what possible reason could you have for turning that down on the basis of Fedor’s own interests? And the answer is obvious: none. The only reason M1 have is because tying Fedor to UFC takes him out of their control and deprives them of the ability to use Fedor’s name and fame to build their business ventures, of which Fedor gets at best a pittance. This is why managers (who have a duty to their client) and promoters (who have a duty to themselves) should never be the same: there’s a massive, massive conflict of interest.
UFC is rightly criticized for some of their sketchier and more counterproductive financial dealings- principally the habit of never fully disclosing fighter pay- but they are fundamentally an above-board organization run along fairly clean and intelligent business lines. They aren’t in the same universe of shadiness that M1 is, and fans really should realize that.