In an exclusive interview to LowKick.com, M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan discussed a wide array of topics, including Fedor Emelianenko's next fight and the future of M-1 Global on Showtime.
Last July, M-1 presented its second card on Showtime, headlined by a Heavyweight collision between Kenny Garner and Pat Bennett. The event took place in Costa Mesa, California, featuring 4 KO/TKO finishes in 5 main card bouts. According to Kogan, having fighters who like to go guns blazing is a part of M-1's philosophy. After all, M-1 Global are trying to emulate PRIDE, and the type of event production that made it unforgettable for a vast majority of hardcore MMA fans around the world.
Next M-1 event will take place on October 14th, with no less than three title fights. Guram Gugenishvili will finally make his USA debut against Kenny Garner (M-1 Challenge Heavyweight title), Vinny Magalhaes will fight Mikhail Zayats (Light Heavyweight title), and Jason Figueroa will put his Lightweight title on the line against the German phenom Daniel Weichel. the show is likely to take place at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.
Make sure you follow Evgeni Kogan on Twitter @evgenikogan.
Can you talk a little about Fedor’s current deal with Showtime? Because it looks like there’s some confusion about it.
Well, right, it’s a little bit complicated. The thing is that Fedor had three fights and one optional on his contract with Strikeforce-Showtime, but only if he continues winning. After three consecutive defeats, they had an option to cancel the deal, or to re-negotiate Fedor’s contract.
Who are “they”? Strikeforce, right?
Fedor’s contract was with both Strikeforce and Showtime. Now, it's only Showtime.
What about his next fight? There are some rumors about a possible return to Japan, and a fight in Moscow, Russia.
Yes. Fedor is currently under contract with Showtime. We have a lot of options for Fedor, but first, we’ll have to sit and discuss his future with Showtime. We have a very good relationship with that company, so I think during the next few weeks we’ll set a course for Fedor’s next fight.
Any idea on who might be his next opponent?
We want to find a good opponent for Fedor. Someone who deserves a fight of that caliber. Personally, I think Fedor is in a great shape, he’s fully prepared and ready to make his comeback. He still has a lot of fight left in him.
There has been a talk about a possible fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Kevin Randleman. Any truth in that?
You see, Russian press likes interesting headlines. These rumors are not true. And I want people to understand that just because there’s something on Russian domain, ending with .ru; it’s not necessarily a true news piece. We have a very strong PR team, and I’m personally very active on Twitter. Anyone who has a question, needs a comment or just wants to make sure his source is legit – there are more than enough ways to contact us.
Some fans "love to hate" on M-1 Global. Sometimes it's for constantly re-negotiating contracts, and sometimes simply as a frustration with Fedor not being in the UFC.
Okay, there are basically two parts of what is “M-1 Global”. One is Fedors management, and another is MMA promotion. M-1 Global, as management, has a very clear view of its goals and the future of Fedor’s Mixed Martial Arts career. And obviously, it’s all based on what Fedor wants to do as a fighter. He has the last word in every important decision related to his career, and it’s our job to make sure he has the best possible conditions to achieve his goals. There are a lot of fans who are new to the sport. They can’t have their own opinion, so they base it according to marketing policies of certain companies.
UFC President Dana White always talks about some sort of mysterious island, where he negotiated with M-1 about Fedor’s possible signature with the UFC. I just want to know the name of that island!
I didn’t work for M-1 Global during that time, so I don’t really know anything about this island or its location. The way Dana White talks about it, I always imagine the island from one of the Austin Powers movies.
What are M-1’s goals as fighting promotion? I think we can already sum up 2011 as a successful year, so what are your goals for 2012?
For this year, we are going to have two more great shows on Showtime channel. As for next year, we are going to negotiate with Showtime to have more fights in 2012. We really hope they enjoyed our previous shows, and obviously, we’ll do our best with the upcoming events in October and December. M-1 Global is always looking for exciting fighters who like to strike, and help us to promote exciting fights in the ring. Our main goal is to develop as a company by organizing exciting “ring” MMA events for our American audience.
Having fights in the ring is a great thing for the sport. And if the fight itself is exciting, it all sums up into a great package. We would really like to emulate PRIDE in its best days. That’s the level we would like to reach. And like I said before, it’s really important for us to continue working with Showtime. This is our future as a company, and with Fedor announcing he would like to continue his MMA career, we would be more than happy to have him involved in this process.
What makes us different is the ring, and the fact that we have great fights. It’s like having a very expensive car that just goes smooth but slow, and a less expensive sports car that just gives you more excitement. I’m not trying to compare us to other promotions, but I truly believe that we can achieve a lot because we have a quality MMA product with great fights.