Japanese press reports stating that Hidehiko Yoshida will likely face Fedor Emelianenko in his retirement bout at Astra 1 on April 25 in Tokyo have no validity, said Evgeni Kogan, director of operations for M-1 Global, the organization that represents the Russian heavyweight.
“I heard about it today for the first time. I think it's some Japanese people with a sense of humor. No foundation whatsoever,” wrote Kogan in an email Friday to Sherdog.com.
M-1 Global and the U.S.-based Strikeforce are in the final stages of signing off on a revised deal that will see the two organizations co-promote additional events together in the U.S. in 2010. The two organizations already co-hosted a November event headlined by Emelianenko, which aired live on CBS to over four million viewers.
Kogan said talks between the two entities continue, after M-1 Global approached Strikeforce earlier this year to re-negotiate a three-event deal they had previously signed last August.
“We are still tying up a couple of loose ends,” said Kogan on Friday, but said the process was “a little further along.” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told Sherdog.com on Wednesday that the deal’s closing was “on the five-yard line” and that he hoped to sew it up by the end of the week.
In the exclusive video, Coker acted unfazed by M-1 Global’s request to re-examine the deal and agreed there were terms that needed “buttoning up.”
Kogan reiterated that a June or July return for Emelianenko, the world’s No. 1 ranked heavyweight, to Strikeforce is still feasible. The 33-year-old fighter champion is expected to face former UFC contender Fabricio Werdum. Preliminary plans for an August event could also see Emelianenko move to that card, especially if the show airs on CBS. Coker confirmed that the August move is also a possibility.
Kogan also debunked persistent rumors that M-1 Global is currently negotiating with the UFC for an alternate deal with Emelianenko, a situation that could have legal ramifications in light of the existing Strikeforce contract. Kogan said he’d heard the rumors as well, but that there was “no substance” to them.