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Alistair Overeem-Fedor Emelianenko Fight Is the Only One That Makes Sense

Even though I know better, the temptation to make certain unhelpful comparisons between Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko, and their respective performances against a common opponent is almost overwhelming.

Don't worry, I'm not going to do it.

I'm not going to point out that while Fedor needed a round and a half to dispatch Brett Rogers, Overeem only needed a couple of minutes. I'm not going to contrast Fedor's smashed nose with Overeem's unmarred mug in the aftermath of the Rogers fight. Really, I swear I won't.

See, I know it doesn't work like that. There's no transitive property in MMA. The difference between styles, the fact that each fighter isn't necessarily the exact same man every time he steps in the cage, these factors make such comparisons useless.

At the same time, I'd be lying if I said that the ease with which Overeem destroyed Rogers didn't make me think twice about how the world's greatest heavyweight might stack up against the man with the cartoon superhero physique. And while no one knows for sure what goes on in the heads of M-1 Global executives, it's hard not to think that maybe Fedor's notoriously difficult handlers had some of the same thoughts watching last night's one-sided title fight.

The differences between Overeem and Rogers were mainly ones of power and attitude. In just under four minutes in the cage, Rogers never made the champ so much as consider the possibility that he might get hurt. Overeem's probably taken more damage doing yard work than he did defending his Strikeforce belt.

Afterwards "The Demolition Man" made it clear, once again, that he has his sights set on Emelianenko, but that he doesn't necessarily blame the Russian for the fact that the fight has proved so difficult to put together. Overeem prodded Fedor's management for keeping their fighter out of the Strikeforce title bout, but later expressed admiration for Fedor as "a legend."

It's a savvy trash-talk balancing act on his part, praising Fedor while making his management out to be the bad guys who are robbing fans of the fight they want to see, but I'm not sure it will have much effect on the M-1 Global crew.

If you couldn't tell by now, they don't particularly want to see their fighter take on Overeem. They have good reasons. As far as assets go, M-1 has Emelianenko, some logos that they'd love to plaster around various arenas and cages, and not a whole lot else.

Much depends on their ability to promote Fedor as the world's top heavyweight. If they put him into a fight with the bigger, stronger, and technically sound Overeem, there's too good a chance that they might lose that particular claim to fame. It's a risk, and no good businessman risks his most valuable asset unless he absolutely has to.

That's why M-1 opted for the safer choice of Fabricio Werdum as Emelianenko's next opponent even while Overeem was more than willing to meet him. Whenever you see a fighter's management go to such great lengths to keep him out of a title bout, you know something's up.

In all likelihood, Fedor will run through Werdum on June 26, but then M-1 is going to face a problem. While I'm sure they're already preparing to make the case that their fighter should take on Antonio Silva next instead of Overeem, that's not going to fly for long.

As Overeem's easy victory in St. Louis proved conclusively, Strikeforce has two great heavyweights on the roster. That's the good news. The bad news is, that won't mean much at all if it can't get them both in the cage together, and soon.

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