Werdum’s astonishing upset victory over long-time kingpin
Emelianenko has thrown the Strikeforce heavyweight division
into chaos. Although the stoic Russian deflected questions before
this bout about a potential title shot against heavyweight champion
Overeem, it was widely believed he would at the very least be
offered that fight.
Now with Werdum’s gigantic monkey wrench being tossed into the
plans, it’s anyone’s guess which way the promotion goes with their
Talk of an immediate rematch circulated the HP Pavilion during the
post-fight press conference and Werdum was clear that he would
indeed be willing to have a return engagement with Emelianenko.
“I want a rematch,” said Werdum right after the biggest win of his
life. “I’m ready to fight anyone [Strikeforce CEO] Scott [Coker]
wants me to fight.”
Coker was in no hurry to book that fight, and told Sherdog.com that
the promotion had options in the heavyweight division.
“We’ll have to sit back and evaluate the situation,” said Coker
following the press conference. “We can go in any number of
While Strikeforce does have options with Fedor, Overeem and Werdum,
it seems likely that whoever is left out of the next big
heavyweight bout will be forced to square off with a less than
Strikeforce Matchmaker Rich Chou pointed to Antonio
Silva and Coker added Sergei
Kharitonov as potential foils for the trio.
Silva recently lost to Werdum and Kharitonov has not fought since
being submitted by journeyman Jeff Monson 14
months ago. Neither seems a fitting challenger for Overeem, but
could be an option for Fedor.
Emelianenko, speaking with the media before Werdum told the same
roomful of reporters that he would grant “his hero” a rematch, said
he would like another crack at the man who ended his
nine-and-a-half year unbeaten run.
“Certainly I would like to have a rematch with Fabricio,” said the
former Pride champion via his translator, “If he agrees, I would
love to do that.
CBS executive Kelly Kahl was also on hand and, though he declined
to get into any specifics, said he would “have to listen” if
Strikeforce offered to bring a rematch to the network.
Another interesting angle that will play out over the next couple
of months will be the manner in which M-1 Global, Emelianenko’s
promoter, handles the sudden vulnerability of their top star.
The unexpected loss also has repercussions on the broader
heavyweight landscape. With Fedor’s defeat, the July 3 UFC
championship match between Brock
Lesnar and Shane
Carwin will be for the unadulterated top spot in mixed martial
arts heavyweight division.