Exclusive interview with M-1 Global’s Director of Operations, Evgeni Kogan

Approximately a week after Strikeforce Fedor vs. Werdum, we contacted M-1 Global’s Director of Operations, Evgeni Kogan, to see if he can squash some of the rumors in regards to M-1 Global’s status as a premiere MMA organization. In retrospect, we may have come off as a little bit brash and for that, I sincerely apologize to Kogan. This wasn’t our intention. Towards the end of the interview, we may have taken our line of questions a little bit too far which prompted Evgeni to question where we received the information from.

Check out this interview with M-1 Global’s Director of Operations, Evgeni Kogan, only at MiddleEasy.com – Because MMA is everything.


What’s going on with Mousasi? What can M-1 Global do to resign him? Gegard is fighting in Japan pretty soon. We’re in contact with Gegard quite frequently. As far as him coming back into the fold, it’s a process. We’re slowly trying to work on it. We’re in the process, we have a great relation with him and it’s something that we’re trying to work on. So in terms of predictions, hopefully it will happen.


Can you name three M-1 stars that you are in the process of developing?Sure, a couple of people that fought in Challengers last year is a guy called Yuri Ivlev that fights at 155. There is also another guy from the same camp and that camp is called ‘Legion’. The other guy from that camp, Magomed Shihshabekov. So those guys from Russia are definitely people to watch out for. A guy from the US that we’re pretty excited about and is fighting on the Selections semi-finals on the 7th of August in Atlantic City is Pat Audinwood. So those three guys in M-1 we are pretty excited about and I think people will be hearing a lot from in the couple of years to come.


Do you plan on offering Shawn Obasi an invitation to compete in next year’s tournament?We have three match-makers. We have a guy in Holland, a guy in the States and a guy in Russia and they do the hands-on match-matching so perhaps the question is better put to Paul who is our American match-maker. But if you write me an email, Paul will look into it.


Should we expect to see Cindy Dandois in Strikeforce or even in Bellator soon?As far as Bellator, not sure. Strikeforce, I think it’s fair enough to say that on a co-promotion with M-1 Global, yes. I think we will be trying very hard, we tried for the summer and it didn’t come off because of visa issues but for the Fall in a co-promotion with Strikeforce and M-1 Global we will try very hard to have Cindy on that card.


So the rumor is the reason why Dana White killed the TapouT deal is because in an interview with Ariel Helwani, you said you were M-1 Global’s ‘Dana White’.I haven’t actually heard that. And on me saying I was M-1 Global’s Dana White, that’s untrue. I didn’t say it. A guy called up and said that I was…whatever, and I just wanted to get on with it so I just said ‘Ok, whatever’. So I never actually said I was M-1 Global’s Dana White. I think there is only one Dana White in the world and I think that’s great. I think one is fine.


After TapouT pulled out, did you call Dana White in order to get him to reconsider his ultimatum to the clothing company?No, there was no contact from M-1 to anyone on their side.


The previous stipulation with signing Fedor to the UFC was a co-promotional deal but recently it’s been revealed that isn’t the issue anymore. Can you elaborate on that?In terms of the specifics of prior conversations or negotiations with the UFC, I’ve been with M-1 Global since the start of 2010 so I can’t tell you what things [happened prior] because I just don’t know. In terms of going forward, we are already partners with Showtime and Strikeforce and for us it’s important to have a good working relationship with them.


It seems that M-1 Global wanted the undercard of the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum event yet the visa applications were not complete. Can you confirm this?Well what it was meant to be and basically still was, half of the fighters that came from the matchmaking of Strikeforce and the other half that came from the matchmaking of M-1. That’s pretty much what it still ended up being. It was just the people that we initially wanted to bring up, there was issues with the visa process, it’s very complicated and it turned out in the end that once the card was actually set-up that there wasn’t enough time to get them to be able to fight in the US. People that fought on the undercard came from our matchmaker and I think one or two of them are actually signed to M-1. But the other idea was that we have three M-1 fighters come out from Europe and from Asia and unfortunately that did not happen this time but we’re making sure that next time around this issue doesn’t happen again.


Fedor was supposed to fight Werdum in April on the CBS card but the visa application for Fedor and other M-1 fighters were not complete. Is this a rumor or did that actually happen?That’s a rumor. Yeah, that’s untrue.


Are you for sure planning to have an M-1 Challenge this year?Yes, towards the end of the year we are going to have Challengers. The format is a little bit different. Whereas Challengers the previous two years have been a team competition, where there’s a team from each country or a couple of teams from one country and there’s five fighters per team. This time it’s fighters versus fighters from countries which the Selections was held. We’re going to have twenty champions, five from each of the four regions we’ve held Selections. There’s a champion in each region at each weight-class so those guys are going to be fighting each other and there’s also going to be some super-fights on each Challengers cards.


Sherdog and MMAJunkie used to stream your M-1 fights on their site but supposedly no one is getting compensated, can you explain why the streaming is not there anymore?Well that’s the first time I’m hearing that no one is getting compensated, where’s that information coming from?


I was just sent these questions, I’m not really sure.Right, well this was the first time I’ve heard of that. Well the last event we had which was on June 26th , that wasn’t shown because obviously we had the San Jose event with Fedor. I think that will be on delay on M-1 Global over the next week or so. Going forward, I think what we’re doing is the initial Selections which were the first round, second round, they [unintelligible] shown because…there were a lot of fighters that weren’t going to make it through to the finals eventually out of the initial eight fights in each weight category and two people would come through. Now that we’re down to the finals, we would like to keep it a little bit more close…we don’t want to release those fights to an audience at this point because they’ll be on television.


Rumor is that you’ve been shopping Fedor around to the UFC while he was under contract for the past three months.Renegotiations in the past were because of certain things following the November show that we weren’t happy with. Some stuff I’m happy to talk about, some stuff I can’t. I’m very happy to say that things that we weren’t happy with that we were renegotiating with following Fedor’s event, everything was good. In terms of were talking to the UFC during that time, no. There was no one from M-1 Global talking to anyone from the UFC at all during the renegotiations that we had with Strikeforce and Showtime.


Word on the street is that M-1 Global is in the hole roughly around 15-20 million dollars. Can you verify this?Ah, that’s an interesting street you’re listening to. I don’t know where you guys are getting this information from. I can only say this is the first time I’ve heard of it.


Due to this alleged financial disparity, are the employees at M-1 getting paid?Well yes, they do get compensated.

Here’s the audio from the final part of the interview where things started to get a little bit rough.

Published on July 5, 2010 at 10:54 am
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