‘The Last Emperor’ comes to cable

By Francis Walker, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: August 8, 2009

NEW YORK (BASN) — Forget boxing just for a moment.

Forget about all of the confusion relating to multiple belt holders in multiple weight divisions. The sport of MMA doesn’t have that problem. Mixed Martial Arts may have different companies that function globally, but each organization has only one champion per weight division.

Speaking of champions, SHOWTIME, in recent years, has exercised a lot of muscle in the MMA World. Perhaps one their most noted accomplishments was the announcement of the recent signing of that man whom many consider to the best heavyweight on the planet.

Fedor Emelianenko, simply known to the MMA global community as either Fedor or “The Last Emperor,” never before has fought on premium cable TV. All of his bouts have been seen live in the United States either on Pay-Per-View, live internet streams, or on DVD.

The opportunity to fight exclusively on SHOWTIME provides everyone with an opportunity to see why Fedor has been so dominant throughout his career.

“This is an epic signing and an epic moment in Strikeforce’s young history with SHOWTIME,” said Senior Vice-President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports & Event Programming Ken Hershman.

“We can’t wait to feature Fedor on our network against the other top heavyweights out there in the world. We’re looking forward to a great relationship and this is the start of many great things to come.”

Fedor has a professional MMA record of 30-1, with 16 submissions and 7 KOs. Many consider Fedor to be undefeated. His sole loss was caused by a cut from an illegal punch in the opening 17 seconds of his fight against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in December 2000. Since the bout occurred in a tournament, the bout couldn’t be ruled a no contest. Fedor couldn’t continue and Kohsaka advanced via TKO.

Since then, Fedor has defeated his last 26 opponents that included a rematch with Kohsaka, as well as former UFC heavyweight champions Mark Coleman, Antonio Nogueira, Tim Sylvia, and Andrei Arlovski.

“I’m really very happy that we’ve found a great partner,” Fedor said. “I’m very happy to fight again and I will be happy to fight for all our fans.”

The partnership that Fedor spoke of is the relationship between SHOWTIME, Strikeforce, and M-1 Global.

There were rumors, following the collapse of Affliction that Fedor would sign with UFC President Dana White. However, based on preliminary discussions according to President of M-1 Global, Vadim Finkelchtein, the UFC only wanted Fedor to fight in the UFC and the opportunities to fight anyone, anywhere in the world would have to be approved by the UFC.

Under SHOWTIME, M-1 Global would be allowed to do shows internationally against various heavyweight contenders throughout the world.

Another key issue may have been the amount of control that Fedor would or wouldn’t have if he were a UFC competitor. Fedor has always had input on the direction of his career including the financial aspects for each fight. It’s doubtful that Dana White would have been as accommodating to Fedor as other promoters.

“I have full control of all my contracts and my career,” Fedor stated to the press. “I get financial reports all the time. All contracts and all important issues are discussed with me. Everything that I don’t like, Vadim tries to fix for me. I have full control of everything that is going on.”

It maybe about control as it relates to Fedor’s career, but Scott Coker, CEO and Founder of Strikeforce, is also ecstatic about the partnership that will lead to Fedor’s now inevitable appearances on SHOWTIME.

“We’ve always been committed to getting the best fighters and building our roster,” Coker said. “With the partnerships with M1 we’re just continuing that vision. Fedor is a great opportunity. How often does that come along? We made the decision with SHOWTIME and said ‘let’s go make this partnership and let’s go for it.’”

SHOWTIME to air Carano vs. Cyborg

The long awaited showdown between the popular Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg will commence from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California on Saturday, August 15. SHOWTIME will televise “Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg” live beginning at 10:30 ET/PT (West Coast delay).

The 27 year-old Carano is unbeaten a professional MMA fighter. She has a nice smile, a gorgeous body, and killer instinct inside the ring. However, Carano will be in for the toughest test of her career when she battles Cyborg, 24, Brazil, winner of her last seven bouts – five by knockout.

“I am not into public speaking, but I am so humbled and blessed by this unbelievable turnout of media and fans,” Carano stated. “It feels so great the support that you have given Cyborg and I. (But) It is not just us. There are four title fights on this great card.

“I have the ultimate, utmost respect for Cyborg,” Carano continued. “This is the toughest fight of my life.

Cyborg believes: “I think the one who makes the fewer mistakes will win this fight,” Cyborg said. “I am expecting a war. I have been training a lot since my last fight. I am ready and very excited.”

Carano and Cyborg will contend for the vacant Strikeforce Women’s 145-pound title.

Carano vs. Cyborg undercard

Carano vs. Cyborg will be one of four world championship fights presented by the Strikeforce brand.

Nick Diaz (20-7) meets Jay Hieron (17-4) to determine the first Strikeforce welterweight champion at 170 pounds. Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Renato Sobral (35-8) battles Gegard Mousasi (25-2). Strikeforce interim lightweight titlist Gilbert Melendez (15-2) faces Mitsuhiro Ishida (18-5).

American Military Hero Tim Kennedy returns

Tim Kennedy (10-2), an American Military hero, returns to MMA action to fight Evangelista Cyborg (16-13), the husband of Cris Cyborg. Kennedy vs. Cyborg will be the headline attraction of a Srikeforce Challengers fight card in Tulsa Oklahoma’s Spirit Bank Event Center on Friday, September 25. Tickets are currently on sale. SHOWTIME will televise beginning at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

“I think we’re both pretty explosive fighters and we both show up to fight,” said Kennedy, a 29 year-old who spent six years in the U.S. Army and newest member of the Texas National Guard. “We both like to throw some big bombs so it’s a good match-up.”

Cyborg, a member of the famed Chute Boxe fight squad, is currently preparing his wife, Cris Cyborg for her long-awaited showdown with Gina Carano for the Strikeforce women’s 145-pound crown.

NOTE: For more information, contact the SpiritBank Event Center box office, all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online ( www.ticketmaster.com ), and Strikeforce’s official website ( www.strikeforce.com).