(Fedor, didn’t I lay out the black tie for you?)
Ray Hui from MMAFighting spoke with M-1 Global director of operations, Evgeni Kogan and asked him why the heavily anticipated Fedor Emelianenko-Alistair Overeem Strikeforce bout has yet to materialize.
According to Kogan, contrary to popular belief, his company has very little to do with picking opponents for their client and he says that they would take a fight with Overeem if it were offered to them.
"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," Kogan explained. "There has never been a point where [a fight with Overeemt] 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."
Interesting, considering that according to Overeem, Emelianenko’s camp turned down a fight with the Strikeforce heavyweight champ in May as they felt it didn’t give their charge enough time to prepare, yet they jumped at the opportunity to face Fabricio Werdum one month later.
Kogan admitted that the timing made the fight inplausible, but said that since Werdum was mentioned after he defeated Brett Rogers last year, they were focused on facing Fabricio and not Alistair.
"No, because that fight was never mentioned before a few months ago," he said "The next fight that Fedor could have had following the November fight was always going to be the Werdum fight."
Much of the dithering and hold-up in negotiating Fedor’s return to the promotion has been due to broadcast and co-promotion rights according to Strikeforce, but Kogan minimizes the business talks’ role in the equation.
With a new deal between the two parties in place, he says he doesn’t forsee any future issues with booking Fedor for the remainder of his contracted fights, not even the possibility that he could be elected to municipal council in Russia.
"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."
"I don’t think [a seat on council] 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. 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."
Let’s just hope his political commitments don’t take away from his training or desire to compete once or twice per year. If it does, we’ll have to start calling him Fedor "The Eclipse" Emelianenko since it will be such a rare occurrence to see him in the ring or cage.