Published Monday, Aug. 3, 2009 | 4 p.m.
Updated Monday, Aug. 3, 2009 | 4:58 p.m.
Days after turning down a generous offer from the world's premiere mixed martial arts organization, Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko has signed a multi-fight deal with the California-based Strikeforce, the UFC's biggest competitor.
"I am looking forward to going back to work and fighting at the highest level," said the 32-year-old Emelianenko, of today's deal which will allow his M-1 Global organization to co-promote the events — the biggest sticking point in the botched negotiations with the UFC.
"Strikeforce is a top fight promotion that houses some of the greatest fighters in the world. I am prepared to fight any of them."
While terms of the deal with Emelianenko (30-1 MMA record) — who was supposed to headline Affliction Entertainment's canceled "Trilogy" event last weekend in Anaheim before Josh Barnett's positive steroid test through the show into shambles — were not released, the man mixed martial art pundits tab as the sport's top heavyweight will likely make his debut in the fall on Showtime, according to a press release.
“Fedor has been the reigning king of MMA’s heavyweight division for quite some time now so being able to work with M-1 and Fedor will substantially increase the level of competition amongst the athletes in this weight class,” said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker.
UFC president Dana White, who reportedly offered Fedor a six fight-$30 million deal last week, was out of the country on Monday but texted ESPNRadio 1100 in Las Vegas.
"I'm in Abu Dhabi right now and my reaction is Fedor is a (expletive) joke," White told Yahoo's Cagewriter. "(He) turns down a huge deal and the opportunity to face the best in the world to fight nobodies, for no money. Fedor is a (expletive)."
"I feel sorry for the real fans! I wanted to make the deal but it takes two and it is VERY obvious Fedor doesn't want to fight the best and doesn't give a (expletive) about the fans."
Strikeforce executive Mike Afromowitz told MMAjunkie.com that Emelianenko "will get top competition in Strikeforce as he would've in the UFC."
"There are a lot of potential opponents you could put in front of him that could give him very tough fights right now," Afromowitz said.
"You saw a lot of interest in that fight with (Brett) Rogers (10-0). "(Alistair) Overeem (29-11) is a top-10 guy, too. Fabricio (Werdum), 11-4-1, is another guy (who could fight Emelianenko). They're all tough opponents."