When Fabricio Werdum submitted Fedor Emelianenko he may have tapped out the entire organization that’s built upon Fedor’s back as well. According to a report from MMA Fighting, M-1 Global has closed their head office in the Netherlands and investors are cutting their losses. Simply put, the organization is in a state of “panic.”
Ten days after Fedor Emelianenko lost to Fabricio Werdum, Fedor’s promotional organization M-1 Global is in disarray as it attempts to adjust to a world in which Fedor is no longer considered the best fighter in MMA.
Specifically, sources with knowledge of the situation say M-1 Global has closed its head office in the Netherlands, that some of M-1’s investors have already cut ties with the organization, that officials within M-1 know they’ve lost most of their negotiating power, and that overall, according to one source, the people at M-1 are “panicking.”
Thus far, the only M-1 representative that has gone on the record about these allegations is Evgeni Kogan, and he’s denying everything. Kogan told MiddleEasy it was the first he’s heard of M-1 being in debt and “yes, [M-1 employees] do get compensated.” In response to MMA Fighting’s report, Kogan issued the following statement to Bloody Elbow.
Eh, that article is 100% made up. There is not an ounce of truth to it… There is no panic, Fedor retains his status in the sport (financially and in terms of perspective). To believe any different is to be out of touch with the business reality of MMA (or any other sport for that matter)… The head office in Holland is here and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. As are the offices in Russia, Ukraine, US and the affiliates in Asia… M-1 remains healthy and has the same leadership and investors as it has had since 1997 (making it pretty much the longest running promotion out there)… We’re looking forward to promoting the Selection finals in Moscow on the 22nd and the Semis in AC on August the 7th. Challenge will take place in the fall.
Sure is a lot of smoke for there not to be a fire…
Update: M-1’s Evgeni Kogan continues to deny that M-1’s head office in the Netherlands has been closed (original report came from Mixfight.nl). Instead, Kogan claims they are merely “restructuring”, only four employees were let go and it’s just a “coincidence” that its happening immediately after Fedor Emelianenko’s first loss. MDS’ original source says Kogan is “lying.”
Kogan admits everyone at M-1 have been “upset” by Fedor’s loss, but says to characterize it as a state of “panic” would be inaccurate.
“It’s unfortunate,” Kogan said. “I was upset that it happened and so was everyone else. He himself was taking it the best. … I was upset on a personal level, emotionally. … It was emotionally, for me, upsetting. … Everyone, obviously, was impacted by it. … There has been no panic.”
Furthermore, Kogan says their primary investor, Russian businessman Sergey Matvienko, is still supporting M-1, but refused to answer any questions about other investors.
And now for the best part, Kogan says it’s “misguided” to think Fedor’s loss hurts M-1’s bargaining power.
“The business side of things doesn’t change,” said Kogan. “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.”
“Fedor has status in this sport, financially and in terms of perspective,” said Kogan. “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.”
Rather conveniently, Kogan doesn’t see any reason why they need to renegotiate before the last fight on Fedor’s Strikeforce contract like they did before the Werdum fight, because now they have a “deal.”
“I don’t think it’s about the strength of hands,” Kogan said. “We have a deal. It is not going to be renegotiated again.”
I wonder what Scott Coker thinks about that…
I’m not saying it’s definitely the case here, but in situations like this, there’s always an official spokesperson vehemently denying everything right up until the moment the company officially collapses. It happened with Affliction, it happened with EliteXC, it happens with companies in all industries all over the world. Just something to keep in mind.