Despite M-1 Global's claims that there's nothing left to negotiate before the third and final fight on Fedor Emelianenko
's contract with Strikeforce, Strikeforce says at least one issue does need to be negotiated: A champion's clause in the contract that would prevent Fedor from leaving to fight in another promotion if he becomes the Strikeforce champion.
M-1 Global says it wants Fedor's next fight to be a rematch with Fabricio Werdum
, who beat Fedor on June 26. But Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker
has said that his preferred option for Fedor's next fight is a bout with Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem
, and Strikeforce spokesman Mike Afromowitz told MMAFighting.com that a champion's clause is going to be negotiated.
Although Coker has been derided by some of the MMA media for suggesting that Fedor should fight for the Strikeforce title after losing to Werdum, it actually could be a shrewd business move: If there's a champion's clause in effect, a Fedor-Overeem title fight would ensure either that Fedor stays with Strikeforce after becoming its champion, or that Fedor leaves Strikeforce on a two-fight losing streak. On the other hand, if Strikeforce books M-1 Global's preferred option of Fedor-Werdum 2, Fedor could win the fight and then be free to leave the promotion.
M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan did not respond to a question regarding a champion's clause. Strikeforce sources have said they felt burned by the lack of a champion's clause in the contract of middleweight champion Jake Shields, who is planning to leave Strikeforce and sign with the UFC, and that Strikeforce has no intention of putting another fighter in a title fight without a champion's clause in place.
In other words, Strikeforce wants to book Fedor vs. Overeem, with an assurance that Fedor can't walk away if he wins. M-1 Global wants to book Fedor vs. Werdum, with Fedor a free agent after the fight. That's a significant difference between the two sides that will need to be ironed out before we see Fedor back in the Strikeforce cage.