("Trust me. Everything is fine at M-1 Global. We are actually looking at buying the UFC.")
Speaking with Sherdog.com’s Loretta Hunt today about a report by MMAFighting.com’s lead blogger, Michael David Smith, that stated that M-1 Global had closed down its Holland office as a result of the projected financial impact the recent loss by its marquee fighter, Fedor Emelianenko will have on the company, the organization’s director of operations, Evgeni Kogan downplayed the situation.
Calling the firing of four of the office’s 11 employees, whose positions he explained had simply become redundant, a “restructuring,” Kogan, who had been brought in to assess and consult on the company’s structure and operations in January told Hunt that the MMAFighting report was misleading.
Well, after reading the Sherdog story, Smith followed up with Kogan and instead of firing softball questions and taking the textbook Public Relations 101 answers he was fed by Kogan with a spoonful of sugar, Smith followed up with some questions that should have been easy to answer unless the company was trying to conceal something, like ‘Who are the remaining employees at the office in question?’ and ‘Does the company own or lease the office and, ‘Have they informed the landlord that they intend to vacate the offices?’
Kogan pled the fifth on every one of the questions, which either means the original report is true, or he doesn’t know the first thing about PR.
One of Smith’s sources – assumedly one of the fired employees – said that it was Kogan himself who told the group whose jobs were being cut that the reason they were being let go was that the office was closing. Kogan denied the claim, prompting the source to call him a “liar.”
The company, who he says has been in operation since 1997, employs over 60 full-time employees globally, according to Kogan. He maintains that the Holland branch, which looks after most of Emelianenko’s interests, will remain the company’s main headquarters.
“This is just four people out of 70 and there’s constant crossover,” Kogan told Hunt. “We have people from the Russian office working in the States. We have people from Holland traveling (to shows.) Those four people weren’t four out of 11; it was four of 70.”
Kogan blamed the erroneous report on “a disgruntled former employee” who spoke to a Russian website, suggesting that the report was used by other outlets, creating a chain event of inaccurate stories. He also denied that M-1 has lost investors due to Emelianenko’s defeat at the hands of Fabricio Werdum last month.
“It’s been the same investors and leadership since 1997. It’s been the same people (involved) for 13 years. Nothing has changed. For 13 years, it’s been the same,” he told Sherdog. “It’s the oldest running (MMA) organization in its current form.”
When asked by Smith to name any of the company’s investors, beyond Russian businessman, Sergei Matvienko, he refused.
"It’s a privately owned company," Kogan said. "We’re not public. You can’t expect private companies to disclose that kind of information."
When Smith pointed out that other organizations like the UFC disclose their investor info, Kogan wouldn’t budge.
"I have no idea why the UFC would make the decision to do that," Kogan said.
Addressing Emelianenko’s loss and the impact it would have on the company as a whole, Kogan told Hunt that they were not in a “state of panic” as Smith had intimated, and that basing a company on one man’s performance would be ludicrous.
“The business side of things doesn’t change. If Michael Schumacher doesn’t win a Formula 1 season, does (it cost him) half the money in the next season? It’s ridiculous. The business reality has nothing to do with one loss. It’s completely misguided to think that it makes any difference. I think [saying we were banking on Fedor never losing] is the same kind of statement as if you said, ‘We’re morons,’” said Kogan.
As far as the impact the loss will have on M-1’s power if and when they renegotiate with Strikeforce, Kogan says the loss won’t have as much impact as many anticipate.
“Fedor has status in this sport, financially and in terms of perspective. To believe any different is to be out of touch with the business reality of mixed martial arts or any other sport for that matter.”