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Fedor vs. Henderson Confirmed, Set to Prove Nothing

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: .

With the announcement that Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson will square off at Strikeforce’s forthcoming July 30 event, so too comes an important question: why?

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has explained that the impetus behind the bout can be found in Henderson, who apparently pleaded with him for the match, “at any weight, anytime, any place.” But a number of other factors also exist which add to the odd nature of this pairing.

ESPN points to “multiple sources” in placing the cost of the fight, noting that Emelianenko is set to earn a $1.5 million purse while Henderson is set to gain $800,000; a strikingly high price tag for a non-pay-per-view fight. Sure, the bout is certain to attract fans to Showtime and will likely help build ample leverage when it comes time to renegotiate the renewal of Strikeforce’s contract, but is the price worth it showcase a fading star taking on the current Light Heavyweight Champion in a non-title heavyweight bout? Someone at the promotion’s now-parent company Zuffa has to be taking note, and there will certainly be a few key members of the company monitoring Coker and the financial outcome of the event.

And in terms of the outcome, what exactly is the optimal scenario for Strikeforce? Is there one? Pairing the company’s two most marketable and notable names against one another is a great tool to stir up interest, however it’s going to be difficult for either fighter to walk away from the match a true winner. If Emelianenko wins, he does so over the much lighter Henderson who will be fighting outside of his comfort zone at heavyweight. And if that happens, there really isn’t going to be any impact on Henderson’s career; fans are likely to write it off as a bad experiment and he’ll return to defend his belt in the promotion’s shallow light heavyweight division. If Henderson defeats Fedor however, a much more complicated scenario presents itself.

On his heels after back-to-back losses, “The Last Emperor” has little to gain in the match regardless of the outcome, and simply put: if Henderson defeats the once-feared Russian great that could very well mark the end of his legendary career. Not only will Fedor have failed to challenge for Strikeforce’s heavyweight crown, but the once dominant heavyweight will have lost to someone who was competing as a middleweight as recent as last spring. And if that happens, again considering the recent Zuffa takeover, his options concerning fighting in American are only that much more slim once the fight ends. If the match does conclude with Henderson’s arm raised at the end, be sure to consider that there’s little to no room in the UFC for the fighter, and there isn’t likely to be a home for him in Strikeforce either.

As far as remarkable marquees go, Emelianenko vs. Henderson is killer. No matter how it ends however, it does little to help further Strikeforce as a promotion and could even go to speed up the eventual absorption of the company by the UFC if it isn’t a mammoth success. The match is certain to be interesting, but as it stands now it doesn’t appear that there will be any winners when two of MMA’s all-time greats face off July 30.