("These barbarian Americans," Fedor thought to himself. "Worshipping laminated rectangles with names on them.")
Strikeforce has been laying suspiciously low lately, leading some to wonder if they’re having behind-the-scenes problems with Fedor Emelianenko or their broadcast partners; Gegard Mousasi‘s departure from M-1 two weeks ago added another wrinkle to the mystery. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker tried to shed what light he could yesterday, telling reporters that the organization would hold an event in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 17th, and that more announcements would come next week. No, it’s not much to work on. But recent reports have also clued us in on the following…
— The middleweight title fight between Jake Shields and Dan Henderson is a done deal for April. Said Shields: "I have a date (and) venue, but they told me to hold that back. Hopefully CBS. I think it’s CBS. There’s a slight possibility of Showtime because they’re still (working it out). I don’t know the rest of the card or any of that yet. But me and Dan’s on, and I’m hoping it’s on CBS."
“After careful consideration, I have decided that it is in my best interest to part ways with M-1 Global. During the time I spent under their wing, M-1 Global, as a promoter and management company, allowed me to achieve many great things. I appreciate all they have done for me…My management is [now] being taken care of by someone close to me."
Mousasi added that he’d like to come back to the U.S. to train with Josh Thomson at American Kickboxing Academy; the two fighters recently became acquainted in Miami during the last Strikeforce show. So what spurred Mousasi’s split with M-1? Apparently, they wouldn’t keep him on the payroll for life. Mousasi’s former manager at M-1, Apy Echteld, told MMA Junkie that the Last Gypsy broke ties when M-1 refused to sign him into a long-term management deal that would give the Dutch-Armenian fighter "lifetime security" — a contract setup reportedly enjoyed by Fedor Emelianenko.
Mousasi is still under contract with Strikeforce for as many as seven fights, and plans to enter DREAM’s light-heavyweight grand prix later this year. His next match is rumored to be against Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal in April.
It’s not even fair that one man should have this great of a life, while the rest of us have to settle for wearing normal sweaters and playing ping-pong in rooms totally bereft of bizarrely ornate furnishings. We may not be the greatest heavyweight in the world, but does that mean we don’t deserve to hang out in the kind of place that has both a ping-pong table and a gold sectional sofa? Maybe it does. Maybe that’s just how life is. Even if you can kick a little ass, or perhaps most of the ass, the world will not share such lavish bounties with you unless you can kick all asses. Just ask poor Anthony Johnson…
(Train hard and be ready, because you never know when you might have to choke out a dragon.)
A while back Cage Potato reader Eric Stone sent us an email to alert us to a Fedor Emelianenko t-shirt that was so crazy and so unbelievably cool, we at first assumed that we were the victims of an elaborate ruse. It just didn’t seem possible that this t-shirt, ostensibly promoting Fedor’s training camp in Stary Oskol, Russia, was a real thing in the world. I mean, just look at it. It features a drawing of someone (we think it’s supposed to be Fedor, but who knows for sure?) putting a very fearsome dragon to sleep with a rear naked choke. The drawing looks like something you might find sketched on a talented seventh-grader’s math notebook, and it includes an exhortation to "Train Hard, Be Ready!"
When we confirmed that this t-shirt really is for sale at the Red Devil Fight Team’s official online store, we were all set to pony up the $44.15 to buy one. Then we read the one and only review of the shirt, which reads: "When will i get my t-shirt? You stole my money!!!!!"
If you’re feeling a little down today and are considering taking a long hot bath with a clock radio to top off the evening, you aren’t alone. Today is what many have come to call "Blue Monday." It’s officially the most depressing day of the year. In an effort to help you soldier through it, we found some fun videos that only sort of have to do with MMA.
Those of you who read Neal Taflinger’s excellent profile piece on Fedor Emelianenko in the October ’09 issue of Fight Magazine may recognize this little scene on the M-1 Global tour bus. Those of you who didn’t read it will have to live with that decision for the rest of your sad lives. Taffy is the guy with the bright orange hair in the back of the bus trying to conduct an interview via Fedor’s interpreter. Fedor is the Russian dude grinning from ear to ear after shoving some ice down the back of Gegard Mousasi‘s trousers. Some things transcend all language and cultural barriers, and ice in somebody’s pants is undoubtedly one of those things.
More MMA-related pick-me-ups await you after the jump.
If you didn’t follow his pre-UFC career, you probably figured that Anderson Silva’s Octagon debut would be relatively competitive. Chris Leben was a dangerous brawler who had won five straight in the Octagon against solid competition, while Silva was…some sort of Brazilian from Japan, I guess? In actuality, the Spider was quickly becoming the most lethal striker in the business, and had spent the previous two years brutalizing guys like Lee Murray, Jorge Rivera, and Tony Fryklund as the middleweight champion of Cage Rage. So all that stuff the Crippler said about pressing the action against Silva, rough-neckin’ him, throwing him around, blasting him in the face, breaking his jaw, then sending him back to Japan where the competition’s a little easier? Oh my God, player. He might as well have been talking about how he was bringing the karate aspect back into jiu-jitsu — that’s how out of touch with reality he seemed, in retrospect.
Chances are, you’ve watched this clip a hundred times by now, so you know what happens next: Anderson Silva makes his name in the U.S. with one of the most flawless victories in MMA history and earns an immediate title shot against Rich Franklin, while Leben begins his slow drift out of relevance. And these days, all of Silva’s fights look like mismatches.
It was a classic matchup of skill vs. morbid obesity. The comically large son of legendary Brazilian scrapper Rei Zulu, Wagner da Conceicao Martins (aka "Zuluzinho") managed to build up a sizable undefeated record in vale tudo matches before joining PRIDE in 2005, where he mauled sumo wrestler Henry "Sentoryu" Miller in his debut. But things like size, pedigree, and professional record mean very little when you’re fighting Fedor Emelianenko. To the untouchable PRIDE heavyweight champion, Zuluzinho was nothing more than a giant punching bag.
In just 26 seconds, Fedor put ‘Zinho on his ass with an inhumanly fast left hook, abused him on the ground a bit, knocked him back down with a right as soon as the giant got to his feet, then went into beastmode until Zuluzinho tapped from the onslaught. This fight proved once and for all that "big and slow" is not the best combination for beating Fedor. If only Hong-Man Choi and Tim Sylvia got the message in time.
You didn’t think we were going to let another calendar year run out without paying homage to this year’s big winners and mocking the year’s biggest idiots, did you? Naw son, that’s not our style. 2009 was an eventful year with plenty of ups and downs, but after casting our ballots and tallying up the votes (there’s only two of us, so it really shouldn’t have taken as long as it did, but there was a lot of yelling and a little crying) we have some awards to give out. The envelopes please…
The year was not without disappointments for the sweatered one. He missed a chance to fight Josh Barnett and walked away from another chance to sign on with the UFC. All the same, he reinforced his status as one of MMA’s most dominant fighters with knockouts of Andrei Arlovski and Brett Rogers. Meanwhile, Anderson Silva had one snoozer and one great fight out of his weight class, while GSP beat a lightweight and won a decision to retain his title. Sorry boys, Fedor’s 2009 was way more fun.
"The Spider" didn’t just beat FoGriff, he straight-up violated him. It’s one thing to do that against a woefully outmatched challenger in your own weight class, but quite another to do it to a former champ from the division above yours. Never have we seen such a clear demonstration of the vast chasm between good and great as we did on that night. You can hardly blame Griffin for running out of the Octagon after that. We’re sort of amazed that he waited until the fight was over to do it.
But if you thought it was tough to do a network TV promotional push with Brett Rogers doing all the work as the only fluent English-speaker in the main event, get ready for things to become even more difficult. Werdum doesn’t exactly speak the King’s English, and selling a fight between an inscrutable Russian and a fairly bland Brazilian to casual sports fans via a series of translators and facial expressions is no easy task. Maybe they can hype this thing through interpretive dance?
Discussing his quick-’n’ easy win over Mike Whitehead at Strikeforce: Evolution on Saturday, Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal stated the obvious — maybe Mike would have done better if he didn’t come in so fat. Without speed on his side, Whitehead was a sitting duck for Mo’s attacks. Though Lawal says he’ll fight anybody Scott Coker puts in front of him, a king needs a crown, and his ultimate goals are to fight Strikeforce light-heavyweight champ Gegard Mousasi and #1 heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.
Hey, it’s good to have ambition. Still, we can all agree that Mo needs to face some tougher competition before he starts prepping for title fights. One of the few names that come to mind is Renato "Babalu" Sobral, who previously held Strikeforce’s light-heavyweight belt before Mousasi beat the fuck out of him. Strikeforce may want to give Lawal one more fight to develop him before making that matchup, but if you want to fast-track Mo to contendership, Babalu is probably the way to go. And with Coker’s 205-pound class as thin as it is, there may not be any other options that make sense.
As expected, Lawal’s royally pimpin’ cage-entrance was almost as entertaining as his fight, though it was unfortunately left out of the Showtime broadcast. Check out some fan-shot video and pictures of King’s "queens" after the jump…
Since his submission loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 82 last March, Henderson has gone 3-0, scoring victories over Rousimar Palhares, Rich Franklin, and Michael Bisping. Shields most recently picked up his 13th straight victory with a workmanlike decision over Jason Miller, but finished his eight previous fights, which included submission wins over Nick Thompson, Paul Daley, and Robbie Lawler. Compared to Shields, Henderson is larger, has fought more elite-level opponents, and has an obvious power advatange with his punches, but it’s hard to count Jake out when you look at the dominant run he’s had over the last four years. At any rate, it’s a great matchup, and it only makes sense for Strikeforce to put their new star into a title fight right away.
As excited as we’ll be to see both Fedor and Hendo fighting for free on CBS once April rolls around (assuming we make it through the winter without being eaten by wolves, and we never assume that), that puts a five-month gap between Strikeforce’s network TV events. We can’t help but pose the question: is that really the kind of scheduling pace that builds brand loyalty? Sure, it gives them time to stack the card using the full might of Strikeforce’s roster, but at this rate they’ll only do about two network TV events a year. Is that the kind of thing that builds a fanbase, or just tries to quickly exploit whatever existing fanbase is already there?
Fedor Emelianenko is so beloved in Korea that he can get paid to do a Snickers commercial over there without delivering a single line or taking a single bite of Snickers. (Nougat, of course, is strictly outlawed in the Russian Orthodox Church.) I think the YouTube description speaks for itself:
He has already taken commercial in Korea: Some Honey- thing? But that was a real sh*t. That commercial just made his image funny. (at least in Korea. I’m sure you agree to my opinion if you watch that commercial. that was worse than Sapp’s pizza commercial.) Even though he took a bad commercial in Korea, he came back! Fortunately, it’s a snickers commercial, and it’s ‘pretty’ fun. Enjoy!
"Pretty" fun? A Korean kid eats a Snickers bar, which gives him the confidence to challenge Fedor Emelianenko to an arm-wrestling match in an airport. If you ask me, that’s crazy fun…
After the jump:Keith Jardine gets some endorsement money of his own.
Ajax (21% of the vote): Now who’s stupid for spending $20 playing ring toss?
Nick420Diaz (20% of the vote): Fedor practices for his big New Years Eve showdown with Jeff Dunham.
LetMeStickItInYourRua (13% of the vote): That monkey is some sort of bionic creature. It doesn’t poo in its hand and throw it at you. Instead, Fedor crawls out and punches you to death.
If your name has been called, please e-mail your real name, address, and shirt size to email@example.com. Thanks to everyone who entered, and special props to Six Deuce for making this possible. Why don’t you take a break from whatever you’re doing and buy some of their stuff?
After sifting through over 250 entries for our latest caption contest — most of them absolutely awful — we found nine that stood out from the rest of the pack. Check ‘em out after the jump, and vote for your favorite in the poll on the right; the winners will be announced on Monday morning. If you haven’t been nominated, don’t freak out: You can still obtain a Glorious Sweater of Absolute Victory shirt from 62Gear.com for just $21.95. Check out all of Six Deuce’s lovely designs right here, and big ups to everybody who participated.
Okay, as far as we can tell, the above images are not photoshopped. At a recent media appearance somewhere in the Old Country, Fedor Emelianenko set aside his usual pastel stripes for a brand-new Daffy Duck sweater with matching Daffy Duck jeans, courtesy of Lot 29. I don’t even know how to interpret this. Is it a public "F U" to all us Internet knuckleheads who are obsessed with the Glorious Sweater of Absolute Victory? Did he find it at a Salvation Army, and figure "hey, it fits, so why not"? Or does he genuinely love Looney Tunes and ugly sleeves? Considering Fedor’s drawings, his child-like tastes shouldn’t surprise us. And yet here we are, dumbfounded.
On a far-less-important note, Fedor’s November 7th bout with Brett Rogers may have been the most watched MMA fight in history. According to a new press release sent out by M-1 Global and Strikeforce, the fight was viewed by over 25 million fans worldwide, including 16 million in Russia, 5.46 million in the U.S., and millions more in South Korea, Japan, China, Latin America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ukraine, Finland, Africa, Turkey, Israel, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Malta. Said M-1 Global CEO Joost Raimond: "All early accounts and indications tell us that ‘Fedor vs. Rogers’ delivered worldwide more than any other MMA show in the history of the sport."
Fedor Emelianenko sat down for a talk with "Russia Today," and because he wanted to make a good impression, naturally he wore the Glorious Sweater of Absolute Victory (BTW, have you done your best to win your very own t-shirt homage to it today?). You might think that of all media outlets, one with Russia in its name would do the best job of translating for Fedor. You’d be wrong. Not only did they choose someone with a hilariously wrong British accent to do the voiceover, but they can’t seem to correctly translate a fighter’s name to save their lives. As a result, we get to hear all about Fedor’s friendship with George Barnett, Don Henderson, and even Kevin Rudlebaum. Good guys, really. Only thing I can’t understand is, who’s this Mark Coleman character he refers to?
But first things first — you want that GSoAV shirt, and we can get you one. All you have to do is come up with a creative and hilarious caption to the photo after the jump. Please submit all entries to the comments section of this post by next Wednesday at noon ET; finalists will be announced later that day for voting, and the top three caption-writers will each win a shirt. Got it? Now go out there and make Fyo’door proud!
("I’m gettin’ too calm and emotionless for this shit." Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
— Though it was initially rumored that Fedor Emelianenko could be out-of-action for 4-6 months due to a jacked-up left thumb he suffered in the first round of his fight against Brett Rogers, his condition has been upgraded. Sherdog reports that the Last Emperor underwent surgery yesterday to fix his injury, and will have a half-cast removed in just 4-6 weeks:
[T]he fighter’s reps said two pins were placed in Emelianenko’s hand to correct the dislocation, and that the bone had not fractured… Emelianenko also said that his nose was not fractured, as was earlier suspected…Emelianenko said he planned to return to training, sans striking, upon his return to Russia later this week. M-1 officials said Emelianenko could headline his second co-promoted Strikeforce card in the first quarter of 2010.
— Cristiane "Cris Cyborg" Santos is expected to make her first Strikeforce title defense against Marloes Coenen on January 30th in Miami, according to MMA Weekly. Santos was originally slated to compete on last Saturday’s "Fedor vs. Rogers" card, but her return was pushed back after she suffered an injury during the 2009 ADCC‘s in September.
Though the entire broadcast of "Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers" averaged 4.04 million viewers — placing it behind Kimbo-headlined CBS cards like "EliteXC: Primetime" (4.85 million viewers) and "EliteXC: Heat" (4.56 million viewers) — the ratings for Saturday night’s card shot up during the main event. MMA Weekly reports that 5.46 million home viewers were in attendance between 11:00 p.m. and 11:15 p.m., making the Emelianenko vs. Rogers match the ninth-most-watched fight in U.S. MMA history. You can check out this slightly outdated list to see where that puts them, but basically, the fight fell just 15,000 viewers short of Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill, and about 1.8 million viewers short of the reigning champion, Kimbo vs. James Thompson. Senior Executive Vice President of CBS Primetime Kelly Kahl was pleased with the numbers:
“I think its impressive we got 5 and a half million viewers to see a guy that to a good part of the country was an unknown. The young male demos speak to MMA’a increasing popularity. To go toe-to-toe with college football says something about the growth pattern of MMA.”
Not coincidentally, the 11:00-11:15 p.m. block coincides with the time when the UFC’s "Main Events" broadcast on Spike had just ended — so a large part of the bump could be attributed to MMA fans switching from one channel to another. (No word yet on how Spike did that night.) The question is: Can Fedor draw even better ratings in his next CBS appearance, now that he’s more of a known quantity? Will he ever approach — dare we say it — Kimbo-esque levels of stardom?
Dan Quinn, you have competition. The new up-and-comer in the YouTube Crackpot division is a 51-year-old dude calling himself Damian Demento, who releases talk-radio-style blowhard rants on MMA, pro-wrestling, and marijuana. He’s a very angry person, and his latest hostility-target is Fedor Emelianenko. Despite the fact that Demento didn’t watch the fight on Saturday, he wasn’t too impressed by Fedor’s performance, or the predictable head-hunting style of Brett Rogers. For the benefit of all us stupid MMA fans, he explains how he’d be able to defeat the fighter that he knows as "Feedor Emelenkio." Basically, generations of Soviet inbreeding have produced Fedor’s trademark dwarfed head and thick skull, and what you really need to do is put the boots to his belly. And Fedor would fall for it, because he’s no smarter than Brock Leznahr or Chuck Little. If you enjoyed this rant, please check out "HOW I CAN BEAT BROCK LESNAR and "PROOF UFC IS FAKE." I tell you, after a few hits of PCP, this guy begins to make a lot of sense.
(Photo courtesy of FightMagazine.com, where total Midwest mark Neal Taflinger makes the case for more MMA shows in the Midwest. Weird.)
Sometimes – not often, but every once in a while – I really wish Dana White would change up his script just a little bit.Nothing drastic.He doesn’t have to call Shinya Aoki the world’s best lightweight or insist that there’s plenty of room for all promotions under the big tent of MMA.But maybe just once he could offer a reaction to a competitor’s event that isn’t painfully predictable. For instance, he could say that he enjoyed it, or even that he just totally forgot it was on. You know, get passive-aggressive instead of aggressive-aggressive for a change.
“CBS would be out of their mind to put that rinky-dink [Strikeforce] . . . on the air again . . . and without that backing, [promoters] won’t have the money to pay [Emelianenko]. …The guy just got his face smashed in by Brett Rogers. Do you know what Brock or Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez would do to Brett Rogers?It’s time to bring this guy [Fedor] in, to see Brock Lesnar smash his head.”
(Josh Barnett’s most recent pro wrestling outing, courtesy of his MySpace page. If you’re dying to see how the match ends, go here.)
He may still be a black sheep in the MMA family, but that doesn’t mean Josh Barnett is going to hop a Greyhound for parts unknown and never call you again, even if you might want it that way. The "Baby-Faced Assassin" surfaced at the World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championships in southern California this week long enough to win the "Ultra Heavyweight" (over 215 pounds) division with a judges’ decision over Bruno Paulista on Sunday. Barnett crowed about the victory on his Twitter account, proclaiming "Catch Wrestling lives!", much to the chagrin of BJJ competitors like Pablo Popovitch, who told Graciemag.com before this event, "[W]e can’t let a guy who does catch wrestling win the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship."
Sorry, Pablo. Guess Barnett never got that memo. If you’re wondering what Barnett’s MMA future holds, apart from being the sport’s unsung savior, you should check out this video interview with Scott Coker where he says that Strikeforce has been in "loose contact" with Barnett, and once he works out his issues with the California State Athletic Commission, "maybe then we’ll be a little bit more interested." You know. If he works out those "issues."
Here’s some footage I took at the Strikeforce post-event presser on Saturday night, which all the main event fighters showed up for. You’ve already heard what Fedor had to say, but check out the reactions from everybody else…
— Fabricio Werdum says he’s earned a shot at Fedor, who Werdum believes is the best fighter in the world. After a week of rest, he’ll be back to training hard.
If you were one of the people who actually sat through the commercials with an intense focus during Saturday night’s broadcast of Strikeforce on CBS, then you probably saw the impressive first ads for EA Sports’s MMA game, complete with what they claim is actual gameplay footage of Brett Rogers and Fedor Emelianenko going at it. It’s no surprise that the people behind the bulk of great pro sports video games currently on the market managed to put together a good trailer for their first effort at an MMA game, but is the power of the EA Sports brand enough to compete with the UFC? Sure, they’ve got Fedor. They’ve got Mauro Ranallo screaming his head off. They’ve got "Mayhem" Miller, even if he’s not pleased with his stats.
But say, just for the sake of argument, that you are both an MMA fan and a video game enthusiast. How many different games do you really need at your disposal? How important is it to you to be able to play as Fedor, rather than simply making your own off-brand version in the UFC game? Does having the EA Sports label slapped on there matter, or is all pointless if you don’t have a digitized Dana White yelling at you?
(‘I don’t want to freak you out or anything, Brett. But having you here in my arms, it just feels right, doesn’t it?’ Photo courtesy of SI.com)
After a brief layoff for scheduled maintenance to its supercomputer, the Potato Index is back to sort through the winners and losers of Saturday night’s Strikeforce event on CBS with its arbitrary numerical rankings system. Huzzah!
Fedor Emelianenko +86 It’s hard to get a big boost in the Index when you’re a 5-1 favorite going into the fight, but he delivered with another right hand murderball, and even gave the casual fans a little blood for their trouble.But were the ratings good enough to get CBS’s attention?
Brett Rogers +4 So he didn’t shock the world.Honestly, who expected him to?He still landed some good shots and took a couple as well, but the biggest positive for him is how he performed on the mat.He’s still got some improvements to make, but he showed that he’s not all hype and a trendy haircut.
Following the Fedor vs. Rogers press conference on Saturday night (more on that later), I was one of several MMA scribblers to corner Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker for a family-style follow-up interview. Some highlights are above: Coker revealed that Marloes Coenen will be the next challenger to Cris Cyborg‘s 145-pound women’s title, threatened that he would be Strikeforce’s heavyweight champion if Alistair Overeem continues his shucking and ducking, and gave his generally positive analysis of Strikeforce’s first CBS show. Regarding his rivalry with the UFC, Coker says "Every day when I wake up, I’m thinking about what Strikeforce needs to do, not what somebody else needs to do, or another company’s doing" — which seems a lot more pleasant than Dana White’s morning routine. More viddys to come…