Legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko said that he was not a fan of the UFC in today’s media conference call for his upcoming fight with Fabricio Werdum. He criticized the UFC for its ‘negative’ presentation, arguing that the behavior of some fighters and the way that the UFC promotes its fights is often not in the best interests of the sport. He also restated his belief that he would be able to handle the new breed of larger heavyweights led by Brock Lesnar as the best fighters need superior technical skills rather than just relying on their size and strength.
Fedor also talked about the recent contract renegotiations between M-1 and Strikeforce, negotiations that stopped this fight taking place in April as originally planned. He said that he had been ready and willing to fight in April and felt frustrated that the fight was delayed. He blamed Strikeforce for the delay but said that he was happy to finally be fighting again.
What he wouldn’t do was pledge his long-term future to Strikeforce or respond to the challenge made by Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem. He said that he was happy with Strikeforce and looked forward to seeing out the remaining two fights but said that he would take a fresh look at the situation when the contract is completed. When questioned about fighting Overeem, he said that he was not looking beyond his upcoming fight against Werdum and had no future opponent in mind. On the possibility of him retiring, Fedor said that he felt there was still a demand for him to fight but that he would retire when he felt that his effectiveness as a fighter was diminishing. Fedor did not talk in great detail about his political ambitions, only going as far as to say that he would not combine being a fighter with being a politician. This is despite the recent reports that he will be a candidate for Russia’s ruling United Russia party in upcoming state elections.
In other news from the conference call, Strikeforce’s Scott Coker said that around 10,000 tickets had already been sold for the show and that he was confident of having at least 15,000 tickets sold by next Saturday. He believed that high ticket sales had more to do with the success that Strikeforce has had in building a large martial arts fanbase in California than any one fight or fighter. He defended booking an instant rematch between Scott Smith and Cung Li, arguing that the fight was the most marketable that could be made after the drama and quality of the first fight. He confirmed that four fighters had been suspended by the Tennessee State Athletic Commission for their roles in the post-fight brawl after the Jake Shields-Dan Henderson match, and said that two of the fighters had already completed and returned the paperwork necessary for the suspensions to start. He again said that he would be willing to co-promote with any promotion (including Bellator) if it made financial sense and refused to be drawn on how he feels about the UFC counter-programming against Strikeforce shows.