Strikeforce was founded in 1985 and has been putting on MMA events since 2006. However, CEO and Founder Scott Coker may have made the smartest business move in the history of his company last week when he signed a co-promotion deal with M-1 Global that would allow the world’s number one heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko, to fight under the Strikeforce banner.
Fedor trained for months to fight Josh Barnett at “Affliction: Trilogy” on Aug. 1. After Barnett tested positive for steroids, the fight was scrapped and the company folded its MMA promotion. There is nothing worse than a fighter without a home — much less the top heavyweight on the planet.
When talking with Sports 1140 KHTK AM on Monday, Coker talked about the opportunity to bid on Fedor’s contract. “Fedor Emelianenko, you know, he was the hottest free agent on the market, and very rare does a fighter of that level become a free agent,” said Coker.
The UFC is considered to be the sport’s premiere organization, the major leagues, and they had been seeking Fedor for years. Other companies wanted him too, but in the end it was the good ship Strikeforce being steered by Captain Coker who obtained the ultimate treasure. What set them apart?
What seemed to make all the difference was Coker’s willingness to co-promote events with M-1 Global, the company behind (literally) Fedor. Fedor still has at least three fights left on his contract with M-1 Global.
“We were out there bidding with four or five different people including the UFC, and I feel very lucky to have Fedor, and M-1, because we are going to co-promote as the press release stated, and we feel very lucky to have them on board,” said Coker.
Coker was willing to do whatever it took basically to sign the Russian. “They told me, they said, ‘Look, we have four or five offers, we’re going to think about it, and we’ll get back to you’… I feel like we got the golden ticket,” said Coker.
The man behind M-1 Global, Vadim Finkelchtein, has been looked upon by some, including Fedor’s brother, as an opportunist looking out for his own best interests ahead of Fedor’s. There are some who point to the trail of dead promotions Fedor has left behind as proof.
Is it just coincidence that every organization Fedor has fought for has gone out of business? Coker is not worried about this and explains what makes Strikeforce different. “The reason why those businesses failed is they had a flawed business model and a bad operator,” said Coker.
Here is Carmichael Dave’s interview with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker about the Fedor signing and co-promotion deal with M-1 Global and he also talks about the Carano vs. Cyborg fight at the end of part 2.