Halfway around the globe, Dream is expected to announce an “alliance” with Strikeforce, the result of a longstanding relationship between Scott Coker and the Japanese promotion.
The Strikeforce CEO has maintained a good relationship with promoter Kazuyoshi Ishii from Dream parent company Fight Entertainment Group, whom he worked with for eight years as the U.S. promoter of K-1 kickboxing. The alliance formalizes that relationship.
In a Tuesday interview with MMAWeekly.com, Coker likened the deal to post-season baseball where teams of different leagues face off, pairing better players against one another.
“At the beginning of this MMA relationship, we had talked about having Dream fighters come over, and our fighters go over there, and having this relationship,” Coker told MMAWeekly.com. “Well, we all got busy and we never really had the opportunity when they wanted Jake (Shields) to fight over there and when we wanted (Shinya) Aoki, he was scheduled to fight. Now we’re going to be able to put those dream fights together."
The talent exchange between the promotions will be exclusive.
“If we want to get Japanese fighters, we would work exclusively with Dream, and Dream would work exclusively with us, and M-1 as well," said Coker. "M-1 will be part of this too.”
He said Mitsuhiro Ishida, who first fought for Strikeforce last September and will rematch Gilbert Melendez after lightweight champion Josh Thomson withdrew due to injury, was the first commitment to the new deal.
Future fights he looked forward to seeing included Fedor Emelianenko vs. Sergei Kharitonov, Robbie Lawler vs. Melvin Manhoef, and the American debut of Shinya Aoki (asked how Aoki would do without his trademark pants, Coker said, “that’s a good question. People are going to have to tune in to Showtime to find out”).
The new alliance does not, however, entail any fiscal commitment from either side, nor is it related to the closing on Sunday of a deal between Emelianenko, M-1 Global, and Strikeforce, Coker said. Despite a well-placed source outside Strikeforce who on Monday said the Japanese promotion had helped bridge the financial gap between Emelianenko’s asking price and Strikeforce’s offer, Coker said the two are unrelated.
“This is a deal that I’ve wanted to make happen where we could start utilizing the fighters and having a good relationship with Dream,” he said. “So I’ve been working on this for a while, and it just happened to come down at the same time as the announcement.
“Now that the Fedor announcement is out there, we said, ‘let’s go make this Dream thing happen.'”
Prized acquisition Emelianenko has stated his desire to fight on New Year’s Eve in Japan once again, and while Coker said, “the door is open,” he hadn’t discussed the possibility with Dream reps. For now, the top-ranked heavyweight’s Strikeforce debut is confirmed for a Showtime broadcast in the fall, presumably in October, where Coker said his opponent remains TBA.
As for the multitude of other fights possible with the alliance, Coker said it was a good time to be an MMA fan.
“I think it’s important, because as a fan, I think they’re going to get some amazing fights that would not happen if the alliance wasn’t created,” he said.