Fedor, Henderson close in on deal
Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson are on board to square off in a proposed late July bout on Showtime, sources from both fighters' camps told SI.com on Saturday.
Strikeforce officials said discussions for the summer blockbuster bout are under way, but that many details, including what weight the headliner will be contested at, as well as the date and venue, still need to be ironed out before the deal can be signed. Talks are expected to pick up next week, according to sources.
Multiple sources have said that Emelianenko and his M-1 Global management team are proposing a catchweight bout between 215-220 pounds to make the match more appealing for Henderson. However, sources within Henderson's camp indicated the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion wishes to meet the former Pride Fighting Championships kingpin at heavyweight.
The event would be a co-branded venture between Strikeforce and M-1 Global, who have an agreement through Showtime to share promotional rights for events that the Russian legend headlines.
The 40-year-old Henderson, who defeated Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante by third-round knockout to earn the 205-pound title in March, has fought at middleweight and light heavyweight for the majority of his career. A two-time Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler, Henderson is the only fighter to hold belts in two Pride divisions simultaneously.
Emelianenko, 34, has amassed one of the greatest heavyweight careers in MMA history since debuting in 2000 in Russia, winning 32 of his first 33 bouts. The four-time World Combat Sambo champion went undefeated for nearly a decade until he was submitted by Fabricio Werdum in 69 seconds at a co-promoted Strikeforce/M-1 Global show last June.
Antonio Silva eliminated Emelianenko from the opening round of Strikeforce's World Heavyweight Grand Prix on Feb. 12, after physicians for the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board halted the bout following the second round. The stoic Russian fighter sustained heavy facial damage at the hands of the Brazilian striker, and notched back-to-back losses for the first time in his career.
Zuffa LLC., the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, acquired Strikeforce in mid March.