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M-1 would welcome a bout pitting Fedor Emelianenko (above) vs. Dan Henderson. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com


With the “if” and “when” of Fedor Emelianenko’s return determined, the question recently had become “who?”

As the majority of Strikeforce’s top heavyweight talent is currently immersed in the company’s high-profile grand prix -- from which Emelianenko was eliminated by Antonio Silva on Feb. 12 -- just who could be a suitable opponent at this crucial juncture in the Russian great’s career?

The answer: current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson.

Speaking with Sherdog.com on Monday, M-1 Global CEO and Co-Founder Vadim Finkelchtein said that while the bout has yet to be finalized, his fighter has been highly receptive to the idea of returning to the Strikeforce cage against fellow Pride Fighting Championships legend “Hendo” this summer.

“The fight is very welcome, and Fedor and I are very happy to have this fight if it happens,” said Finkelchtein. “The agreement hasn’t been signed yet. It’s being discussed right now. It’s scheduled to be in July, tentatively, but it’s not certain yet.”

Although rumors had mounted that Emelianenko could cut to 205 pounds following his first back-to-back defeats at heavyweight, Finkelchtein asserted that the fight with Henderson would take place at heavyweight.

“Fedor weighs about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) right now, so he would take the fight in his own weight category,” he said.

While the promotion has yet to formalize plans for a July event, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” program in March that he expected Emelianenko to return in July. Despite rumors that such a major fight could lead to Strikeforce’s debut on pay-per-view, Finkelchtein noted that such a move has not been part of negotiations to this point.

“So far, all the planning that has been done has been with regards to Showtime being part of it. The pay-per-view issue, specifically, hasn’t been discussed,” Finkelchtein explained. “All that has been discussed is the participation of Showtime, and that it will be under the aegis of Showtime.”

Another non-factor in negotiations has been Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC, which acquired Strikeforce in mid-March and with which M-1 Global has had a notoriously turbulent relationship.

“We’ve been mostly dealing with Showtime and Coker. We haven’t been dealing with the UFC,” said Finkelchtein.

Regarding Emelianenko’s status with Strikeforce, Finkelchtein confirmed that “The Last Emperor” remains under contract for three additional fights with the promotion. Whether or not those fights are fulfilled could hinge on the outcome of the potential Henderson matchup, but Finkelchtein claimed his fighter is raring to return to the cage and has vanquished thoughts of retirement at present.

“Fedor is ready to perform. He’s full of energy right now. He’s willing to fight whoever,” said Finkelchtein. “To some extent, it depends on how his next fight goes, [but] in principle, Fedor is ready to fight all three fights the way they’re planned.”

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