Fedor issue weighs heavy on Strikeforce

Fedor Emelianenko (right) defeated Brett Rogers a few months ago, but since Strikeforce can't get Fedor to fight for the heavyweight belt, it will be Rogers who will vie for the title Saturday. Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Despite having arguably the best heavyweight fighter in mixed martial arts on its payroll, Strikeforce has been unsuccessful over the last two years in getting Fedor Emelianenko into the cage to fight for the heavyweight belt. It seems strange that the organization will allow Fedor to sit on the sidelines while Brett Rogers, a fighter that Fedor beat less than six months ago, competes for the championship at a Strikeforce event this weekend.

The strange relationship between Strikeforce and Fedor's management, M-1 Global, is making it almost impossible to ensure the fighter retains his relevancy in the sport. Every day that the Russian doesn't fight a top 10 heavyweight is another day where the MMA community will question his place on top of the pound-for-pound fighter list. The perception is that Fedor, who hasn't lost a fight in almost 10 years, is starting to duck matchups in order to protect his record and his place in MMA history.

Rogers' opponent this weekend will be Alistair Overeem, the current heavyweight champ for Strikeforce. Overeem hasn't fought for the organization in over two years. The reason that Strikeforce provides for this lapse in action, as ludicrous as it may sound, is that it has been unable to find a quality opponent for the champ.

It seems obvious that Fedor would rather bide his time in a Strikeforce that has, at best, one Top 10 fighter among their ranks, instead of committing to the UFC, which has the lion's share of heavyweight contenders.

Until Fedor gets a crack at the Strikeforce belt, any heavyweight championship fight within that organization without his name on the card is not a legitimate title fight.

The best way that Strikeforce can get out of this mess and set things straight is to force Fedor, who takes on Fabricio Werdum in June, to fight the winner of this weekend's heavyweight title bout.

Showtime will broadcast Strikeforce St. Louis -- Heavy Artillery on Saturday from the Scottrade Center.

Fight picks

  • Champ Alistair Overeem vs. Brett Rogers (for heavyweight title): Rogers wins by first round KO.

  • Andrei Arlovski vs. Antonio Silva: Arlovski wins by first round TKO.

  • Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza vs. Joey Villasenor: Souza wins via decision.

  • Roger Gracie vs. Kevin Randleman: Randleman wins via decision.

  • Antwain Britt vs. Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante: Cavalcante wins via decision.