M-1 Global’s Kogan: Negotiating TV Deal for Fedor vs. Monson Not “Easiest Thing”, Time Zone Difference Playing Factor
By Kelsey Mowatt
Several days removed from the news that former Pride champion Fedor Emelianenko will fight former UFC contender Jeff Monson, at M-1 Global’s upcoming November 20th event in Moscow, Russia, no plans to broadcast the heavyweight tilt live throughout North America have been announced. When the fight was confirmed, there was widespread speculation that perhaps Showtime and M-1 Global would partner up for the November card as they will again on October 14th in Phoenix, Arizona. As September comes to a close, however, there’s been little news on that front.
“We’re still in talks with Showtime as well as several other possibilities to show this fight in North America,” M-1 Global’s Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan told FCF today. “I guess there’s not a huge amount of time left to do a deal, so maybe within two or three week’s we will have something sorted, but everything is continuing. I think it’s very likely that the bout will be live in North America, albeit, very early on the Sunday morning in the U.S., especially on the West Coast.”
Of course, while fans may be wondering if and how they will be able to catch the Fedor, Monson bout live, there has also been considerable discussion as of late, as to what Showtime’s long term plans are for MMA programming and whether the network will renew its agreement with Strikeforce. If Showtime elected to pick up the Fedor, Monson bout in November, it could be an indication that the network is indeed strongly committed to carrying MMA in the future, especially when one considers that the fight will take place far removed from ‘prime time.’
“For our purposes in Russia, it means that the fight will probably take place around 10 in the morning on the U.S. East Coast and 7 in the morning on the West Coast; that’s really early,” Kogan said. “We appreciate that for American television, for Showtime and other people that we’re talking to for potential pay-per-view, that’s not the easiest thing for negotiations and try to move this along…Hopefully we’ll come to an arrangement that will satisfy everyone.”
“For us, this event had to happen in Russia,” Kogan noted. “We have some pretty powerful and large sponsors, and with this event, we’re working directly with Russia 2 which is doing lots of pre-fight programming and also broadcasting the fight live. There will be a lot of press in Moscow, so the Russian fans, Russian media; that was our first priority.”
According to Kogan, however, at a minimum, American and Canadian fans will be able to catch the card live online.
“Through the web, people will for sure be able to see that fight,” Kogan added. “For television, I can’t guarantee it at the moment, but through the internet there will be some sort of pay-per-view option for people to watch.”
Time difference aside, some also might be questioning whether Emelianenko has the same market appeal and drawing power due to the legendary fighter’s three consecutive losses.
“I do,” said Kogan. “Given that this event is on a Sunday and it happens so early, that I don’t know about. I think some casual fans may not get up so early to watch, simply because it’s inconvenient. Do I think that Fedor still has the power to draw fans if he’s fighting on a Saturday, in the evening, for sure…He needs to get a couple of wins to get back in favor with some fans and some media, but I think he does.”
In stark contrast to recent years where Emelianenko has only fought once or twice annually, the November 20th bout with Monson will be the 34 year-old-fighter’s third of the year. According to Kogan, however, there remains a possibility that Fedor’s 2011 campaign may not end in November.
“Should everything go okay in this fight, Fedor’s next fight will happen at the end of the year, hopefully in Japan,” Kogan said. “That’s what we’ve been discussing.”
“It’s a possibility,” Kogan said while clarifying that Emelianenko could compete on FEG’s New Year’s Eve Dynamite card. “It’s not a done deal yet but it’s in talks that it might happen.”