When PRIDE icon Fedor Emelianenko and current Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Dan Henderson meet in a Chicago area cage a little less than two weeks from today it will likely be the last time one of them competes under the promotion’s banner.
According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Five Ounces of Pain has confirmed one of the core components of the matchmaking process in regards to their headlining bout on July 30 was the ability to sever professional ties with the loser based on the amount each earns in comparison to their perceived market value, as contracts are generally structured to allow for immediate release in the event of defeat.
In May, ESPN reported the two fighters are scheduled to earn $2.3 million combined for their July 30 fight with Henderson taking home an $800,000 paycheck and his Russian counterpart the remaining amount. For reference, the entire disclosed payroll of UFC 132, the most recent PPV event for the world’s foremost MMA promotion, was more than a million dollars less than the two Strikeforce fighters’ expected windfall in the Windy City.
Whether Zuffa would renegotiate terms with “Hendo” if he loses, or if the former Olympic wrestler would even want to re-sign, are unknown. However, a major factor in Henderson’s departure from the UFC two years ago after winning three straight fights was the amount of money on the table with UFC President Dana White repeatedly stating on record the company’s belief that the 40-year old was not a major draw. The Team Quest patriarch is also on the last fight of his current Strikeforce deal.
Though the parent-company of Strikeforce is not in the same position of fiscal responsibility when it comes to Emelianenko, the previously unbeatable heavyweight is no longer the same asset he was when originally coming on board in 2009, a matter apparently straining the partnership between M-1 Global and the promotion’s primary home, Showtime. Emelianenko has lost his last two fights in convincing fashion meaning a third consecutive stumble – especially to an opponent known for competing in a smaller division – would not only be disastrous on a professional level but also likely mark the end of his Strikeforce career given the kingly sum demanded by “The Last Emperor”.
Though only the future knows for sure how things will play out, it appears a black mark has appeared on what is otherwise an extremely fan-friendly pairing at “Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson”. The two long-standing stars hold 57 total wins including memorable performances too numerous to list. Among them, for Emelianenko, are victories in Japan against Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, while Henderson has found success against the likes of Michael Bisping, Wanderlei Silva, “Minotauro” Nogueira, Vitor Belfort, and Rich Franklin.
Requests for official comments from Showtime and Strikeforce representatives have gone unanswered at the time of this report.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE