Evgeni Kogan: M-1 Management Is Not Ducking Overeem

M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan says "more likely than not," Fedor Emelianenko's third fight under his Strikeforce contract will be on pay-per-view and that M-1 Global is willing to accept any opponent -- including Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.

In this interview below, Kogan recently spoke with MMAFighting.com about what's in store for the future of Fedor and M-1 Global's relationship with Strikeforce.

RH: There's been discussions regarding Fedor's third fight being on PPV. Would it still happen against an opponent other than Overeem?

EK: The matchmaking for this is more coming out of Strikeforce than from our side. We are open to fighting basically whoever is put in front of us. Given that and the fact that more likely than not that the event is on pay-per-view, it's going to be whoever the next opponent is put in front of us. I can't speak on whether or not it's going to be Alistair. I can say that if Alistair is put in front of us, then that's who that fight is going to be with. More likely than not it's going to be on pay-per-view.

RH: Overeem has called out M-1 Global in the past for blocking Fedor from fighting Overeem. How do you respond to that?


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EK: There has never been a point where that fight was offered and turned down. M-1 management is not ducking Overeem, and once again, if that fight is presented to us, then that's what that fight will be.

RH: M-1 Global renegotiated its contract with Strikeforce, which pushed Fedor's return from April to June. Were the additional negotiations the reason why the Overeem-Fedor fight hasn't happened?

EK: No, because that fight was never mentioned before a few months ago. The next fight that Fedor could have had following the November fight was always going to be the Werdum fight.

RH: One of the points of renegotiations was to feature M-1 Global more prominently, as a co-promoted event, rather than just a Strikeforce event. What can we expect from the June 26 Fedor-Werdum card that will push the M-1 Global brand?


EK: It's on Showtime, which we haven't done before. I'm really excited to be working with Showtime, first off. They are cool people to work with so I think production-wise, the atmosphere is going to be pretty amazing. They have a long history of doing really, really good fight sport events. I'm looking forward to this one particularly.

RH: What will differ from the CBS one other than a different channel? For example, will there be more M-1 Global graphics on the broadcast?

EK: A lot of the differences was what happened behind the scenes. So the effects may not be that M-1 will be hitting you over the head during the whole show, but behind the scenes the process has been much, much better.

RH: I noticed there's one M-1 Challenge fighter on the undercard. Is that one of the things that were talked about, to include more fighters from M-1 Global events?


EK: We're actually going to have five M-1 related undercard fights. It's going to be our people vs. Strikeforce people. We're just finalizing it right now. There's been quite a bit of organizing and very soon we are going to announce all the undercard fights.

RH: Now that we have gotten the renegotiations out of the way, can we expect that there will be no further issues for Fedor's third fight?

EK: I'm really hoping so. I'm really, really hoping so. I think this relationship we have right now between ourselves and Strikeforce and Showtime is a good relationship. I think it's a blueprint for going forward successfully. So yeah, I'm hoping that path is smooth and clear from this point on.

RH: Fedor made news recently for his nomination in a Russian primary. Will this have any effect on his fight career?


EK: I don't think it would be particularly strenuous. We're talking about a particular region in Russia that he's in. We're not talking about federal politics as far as Russia is concerned ... It's not necessarily a strenuous task for him to deal with that and fight at the same time. All the talk of his potential political career influencing his fighting came from one article on one website, who basically were stirring the pot and put that he was going to announce his retirement shortly after winning the political elections for that region.

RH: How did this come about? Does Fedor have a strong interest in his country's politics?

EK: He was basically, I think, volunteered. His name was put forward. He's someone who is pretty much a role model in the community in Stary Oskol and it was almost a natural step for someone to put him forward as a candidate for the Belgorod region. I think it was the kind of thing that he wasn't going to refuse.

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