On this past weekend's edition of MMA Nation, Luke Thomas spoke to M-1 Global's Director of Global Operations Evgeni Kogan who described his role as involving "basically everything from A to Zed."
Kogan made it clear that M-1 does not currently have the level of brand recognition in America that they would like but that they do plan on continuing to attempt to make the connection with the sport's fanbase. Also important to M-1 is developing an understanding that they are not simply a "management company" but are a full fledged fight promotion putting on events in multiple continents this year. Kogan also admitted that in part the lack of narrative control by M-1 during the Fedor/UFC negotiations led to the issues with understanding the company and that they plan to work more with the media and fans going forward.
Luke soon turned the conversation to Fedor and in response to being asked why M-1 seemed so important to Emelianenko Kogan was surprisingly candid. "The basic reason is that he is one of the shareholders of the company" Kogan said. Of course, personal relationships with men such as Vadim do have some weight, but the main driving force according to Kogan is his status as a shareholder.
In terms of the Strikeforce contract situation Evgeni said that he couldn't get into too many specifics but the lack of exposure following the November fight was an issue and one that they have attempted to address. Luke agreed with the overall idea that M-1 did not get a fair enough amount of exposure on the first CBS effort and then asked about Coker's comments that the negotiations are basically done. Kogan explained that they are "95 - 99.96%" of the way there and just have to "cross the T's and dot the I's." There is no clear date established for Fedor's return to the cage once the negotiations end, but he will be starting his training camp once the deal is finalized.
Other points of interest from the interview:
Kogan said that Gegard Mousasi was not signed to M-1 but rather had a relationship with certain people within the organization. It's regrettable that the relationship ended, but they are still on good terms.
The opportunity cost of missing a chance to headline another CBS event was acknowledged but labeled "unavoidable." Kogan also feels that the show will do good ratings with the Henderson/Shields headlining fight.
Aleksander Emelianenko recently had a boxing match in Russia but the status of his rumored Hep B is not known by Evgeni. And he is unsure if Aleks will ever have a fight in America.
Luke ended the interview by claiming that Kogan is exactly the type of person needed for M-1 with his understanding of MMA media and ability to speak English and answer questions directly.