M-1 Global’s Evgeni Kogan Talks Fedor’s Future, Says White’s Criticisms are “Laughable”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although Fedor Emelianenko was handed his third consecutive loss by Dan Henderson on July 30th, which led to his exit from Strikeforce soon after, the news Monday that the former Pride champion was not retiring quickly captured headlines. Despite the end of their partnership with Zuffa and Strikeforce, M-1 Global has announced that the organization is considering promotional possibilities in Russia and Japan, to launch the next stage of the renowned heavyweight’s career.
“The situation with Fedor is somewhat strange I guess,” M-1 Global’s Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan told FCF, while discussing the news that Emelianenko will return to action sometime this fall. “He’s no longer with Strikeforce obviously, but he still remains on contract with Showtime. Speculating as to whether he’ll fight on one of our shows or with Showtime, I think it’s a little early for that.”
Shortly after UFC President Dana White announced that Zuffa was not going to retain the services of Fedor , Kogan and M-1 Global were quick to point out that the heavyweight’s agreement was in fact with Showtime. Since then, there has been speculation as to what that really entails, and whether M-1 Global and Showtime will sign a contract extension to broadcast the promotion’s events in 2012.
“Following the lengthy negotiations, after the Fedor, (Brett) Rogers fight in November, 2009, when we weren’t getting any resolutions with Strikeforce, Showtime stepped in and said they were interested in having Fedor fight on their network,” Kogan said. “They said they would be a buffer between us, the three of us would work together, and that Fedor would be contracted with Showtime.”
“From our point of view it’s gone great,” Kogan added while discussing M-1 Global’s relationship with Showtime, which will include two more events in October and December. “They’ve been great with the Fedor fights and the events that we’ve done by ourselves. Hopefully it’s something that we can build on in the future.”
While for the time being, it appears that Emelianenko’s next bout will likely take place on a M-1 Global card in Russia, there are less indications as to who the 34 year-old-fighter will fight next.
“My personal opinion is that he has to get back on the horse rather than getting back on a pony,” said Kogan, while discussing the calibre of opponent Emelianenko could face next. “I think the (Fabricio) Werdum and Henderson fight were very small technical mistakes that can be improved on. I think he needs to continue to fight people that are considered to be at the top of the sport.”
Of course, due to the fact that Alistair Overeem is also no longer with Strikeforce, the door may remain open for a future fight between Emelianenko and the promotion’s former heavyweight champ. Although there have been previous tensions between Overeem, his management Golden Glory and M-1 Global, the potential draw for such a match-up may be too large to ignore.
“Well given the contractual obligations on all sides, which is a minefield, I think sometime in the future should they be available, I think that’s a fight that makes sense to a whole lot of people,” Kogan said. “How many fighters at the level, who are available, exist in that division? I think for sure it’s an interesting fight; I don’t think it’s something that will happen in the next six months, in my personal opinion.”
One of the more vocal critics of Emelianenko has been the aforementioned White, who for sometime has vehemently argued that the heavyweight has not faced the kind of competition in recent years to be considered one of the world’s top, pound-for-pound competitors. Since Emelianenko has proceeded to lose three straight in Strikeforce, the UFC President’s criticisms of the 31-4 fighter have grown even louder.
“I don’t really know why he says a lot of the stuff he says,” said Kogan about White, who in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated drew some comparisons between the hype that surrounded former TUF competitor Kimbo Slice and that of Fedor. “I don’t really want to offer my opinion on that other than to say that the general point of this is the promotion, it makes for drama, it makes people say ‘ooh’; that’s interesting. I’ll buy the next pay-per-view’ or whatever…that’s par for the course in promoting.”
In a recent, post UFC 133 interview with MMA Fighting, White once again blasted M-1 Global and the promotion’s president Vadim Finkelstein, for turning down Zuffa’s highly publicized offer to Emelianenko in 2009.
“There is so much stuff that’s go on behind the scenes, that people don’t know about, that we won’t talk about, which for us, I look at his interviews and it just makes me laugh, it’s just funny,” said Kogan about White, who has been quoted referring to Finkelstein as ‘Vadummy’. “It’s laughable that those things are said….all the stuff that happens behind the scenes, it changes the picture very significantly.”
Kogan also reiterated M-1 Global’s position that Emelianenko did not sign with the UFC, due to restrictions that were in the contract and the amount of control Zuffa would have apparently retained over the fighter’s career. All this latest debate comes after Zuffa and M-1 Global worked together to promote the recent “Fedor vs. Henderson” event on July 30th, which is something that seemed rather improbable just two years ago.
“Working with Zuffa was actually really good,” said Kogan. “Zuffa’s middle management is really great to work with. They’re corporate, professional, straight forward, easy; we were all pleasantly surprised…if they’re listening to this, it was a pleasure working with them.”