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Scott Coker: Fedor on CBS 'A Very Big Deal' for Mixed Martial Arts

Shortly after CBS announced that it would televise the Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers fight on Nov. 7, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker spoke with FanHouse about the deal to put the heavyweight bout on network television, saying he views it as a huge step forward for MMA.

Coker also said the CBS show will consist of four fights and will include Gegard Mousasi, Cris Cyborg, Jake Shields and Jason Mayhem Miller, and that Fedor's company, M-1 Global, has been a strong partner throughout the planning process. The full interview is below.

Michael David Smith: We had previously heard Fedor vs. Rogers would be on Showtime. How did the deal go down to put it on CBS?
Scott Coker: We just got a call that CBS was interested in doing that fight, and we were all in agreement that would be a win-win for CBS to put MMA back on the air. It's a great day for the mixed martial arts industry.

Will anything change for you, or is doing a card with Showtime basically the same as doing a card with CBS?
It's basically the same. We've worked hard with Showtime to do great fights with big names and star power, and I think we'll do that and then some with the CBS fights. It's a chance for us to show the talent we have on our roster to a big audience.

When will you know the venue for this card?
Early next week.

Any hints?
Sorry. It's a little difficult because basketball and hockey have a lot of the big arenas and we want this card to be in a big city and a big venue. I think we'll announce it on Monday or Tuesday.

Might it be in your home base of San Jose?
No. It will not be there. There's a hockey game that day.

Can you tell me any of the undercard fights?
I can tell you some of the fighters. You'll see Gegard Mousasi, Jake Shields, Mayhem Miller and Cris Cyborg. It'll be a solid card, with the No. 1 heavyweight in the world and a great undercard.

It sounds like you're avoiding the boxing model of one big main event but not a big undercard.
Absolutely. We're going to have a great card that you don't have to pay $44.95, or whatever it is, and it's a stacked card from top to bottom, not just one fight.

How many fights will be on the CBS card?
Those details still need to be worked out but it looks like it's going to be a four-fight card, or maybe a five-fight card, with maybe a swing bout.

Will Shields and Miller fight each other?
That hasn't been confirmed.

Are Mousasi and Cyborg going to be fighting in five-round title fights?
Not necessarily, no. Cyborg has discussed moving up in weight class and Mousasi can fight at 185 or 205 or 220. We have to work out those details.

We hear all this talk about co-promotion, between you and M-1 Global. What role did M-1 have in getting this card together and on CBS?
Well, it goes back to when we purchased the assets of Pro Elite, that included the Showtime deal, and CBS had the option to televise some fights. But CBS had to feel comfortable, because the last regime kind of left a bad taste in their mouths. Well, now we've put together great fights on Showtime, and we've put together a deal with M-1 -- which is Fedor's company, he's part owner -- and that made CBS decide to activate the deal. M-1 has the best fighter in the heavyweight division, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and getting the deal done with them was good timing for CBS. M-1 has been a great partner, and they contribute a lot. It's a great relationship and we're looking forward to co-promoting this fight on Nov. 7.

As a fight fan, how historically significant do you think this is to have the heavyweight championship of the world on network television? That hasn't happened often in boxing, and it has never happened in MMA. How big a deal do you think this is for the sport?

It's a very big deal. Not just for our company, not just for Fedor, not just for Brett Rogers, not just for M-1, but for the whole MMA industry. It's a big statement from CBS.

Although I just mentioned that this is the heavyweight championship of the world, it's not the heavyweight championship of your promotion, is it? Alistair Overeem is your champion.

There's been some dialogue on that. I think we're going to give Alistair the opportunity to defend his belt early next year. I was promised by his camp that he'll be ready by February or March.

Is Fedor vs. Rogers going to be three rounds or five rounds?
Right now they're scheduled for three rounds. Hopefully if Fedor gets past Rogers, he and Alistair will get together.

Is it sort of a moot point whether it's three or five rounds? Rogers has never gone past the second round, and Fedor hasn't gone past the second round since he fought Mirko Cro Cop more than four years ago.
Yeah, I think that's right. It's not going to go the distance, let's put it that way.

You have a pretty busy autumn ahead of you. How many more cards will you do this year?
We have the Challengers on September 25 on Showtime, featuring Tim Kennedy, who we have a lot of confidence in as a rising star in the sport. Then we have another Challengers show the day before the CBS broadcast, Nov. 6 out of Fresno with Billy Evangelista fighting Jorge Gurgel.

So you're doing two fights that weekend? Won't that be rough for you?
We can definitely do it. We have the staffing to handle it. And then on Nov, 20, at a location to be determined, we have another Challengers fight, and then some time in December we'll do a Strikeforce fight that will be sizable.

It's a busy end of the year for you.
Yeah, and next year will be even better. You know, when we got started in the MMA business we were doing four fights a year, three at the HP Pavilion and one at the Playboy Mansion. Next year it looks like we'll have a schedule of 20 cards, all across the country. It's going to be a lot of fun, a lot of work and great for the fight fans.

What do you think the UFC will do to counter-program this card?
I really don't know. I have no idea. But I'm sure they'll come up with something.

They have Brock Lesnar facing Shane Carwin on Nov. 21 for their heavyweight belt. Do you view Fedor vs. Rogers as the true heavyweight title fight in MMA?
Absolutely. Fedor is the No. 1 heavyweight fighting in MMA. Everybody knows that. If you went out and asked 10 reporters who cover MMA who's the No. 1 fighter in the heavyweight division, I think you know the answer you'd get. Fedor is the guy. The whole thing about him ducking people? Come on. That's ridiculous. Here's a guy who fought Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira three times, beat him twice and had a no contest. He beat Mirko Cro Cop. He beat Tim Sylvia. He beat Andrei Arlovski. He was supposed to fight Josh Barnett. He hasn't ducked anybody. His reputation speaks for itself.

This is an exciting fight for the sport of mixed martial arts. The fans can tune in to CBS on Nov. 7 and see Fedor fight Rogers, plus Jake Shields, Mayhem Miller, Cris Cyborg, Gegard Mousasi, that's a great day for mixed martial arts. I'm very happy we're going to put MMA back on CBS and I'm looking forward to it.

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