Fedor Emelianenko has signed a multi-fight agreement that will see the world’s No. 1-ranked heavyweight compete for Strikeforce, the promotion announced Monday.
Emelianenko, who became a free agent after Affliction Entertainment canceled its Aug. 1 event two weeks ago, will make his debut on Showtime under a co-promoted Strikeforce/M-1 Global production this fall. Emelianenko was to have faced Josh Barnett at Affliction “Trilogy” on Aug. 1, but Barnett failed a pre-fight test for an anabolic steroid and was refused licensure by the California State Athletic Commission.
"Strikeforce is a top fight promotion that houses some of the greatest fighters in the world," said Emelianenko in a press release. "I am prepared to fight any of them."
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told Sherdog.com last week that he plans to match the stoic Russian against the likes of Brett Rogers, Fabricio Werdum and the promotion’s heavyweight champion, Alistair Overeem.
“I feel pretty confident that we could give him four or five opponents that would make sense for him,” Coker told Sherdog.com in an exclusive video interview.
Emelianenko, along with his promoters and management team at M-1 Global, had negotiated with the UFC last week, but could not come to an agreement over co-promotion.
"Fedor is a f---ing joke," UFC President Dana White responded Monday after learning that Emelianenko had signed with Strikeforce. “He turns down a huge deal and the opportunity to face the best in the world to fight nobodies for no money!"
White also addressed fans: "I feel sorry for the real fight fans. I wanted to make the deal, but it takes two and it is very obvious Fedor doesn't want to fight the best, and doesn't give a sh-t about the fans!"
This article was updated at 3:52 p.m. EST and 7:35 p.m. EST with quotes from Dana White that the UFC's PR Director Jennifer Wenk sent directly to Sherdog.com.