It’s rare that Fedor Emelianenko draws negative press. The fighter has such a disarmingly mild-mannered personality despite his fearsome reputation in the ring and the cage that it’s hard to find room to criticize him.
Having said that after a series of media no-shows this week there has been a mild backlash against him, though his management M-1 Global appear to have taken the brunt of it.
As we reported earlier Fedor failed to turn up for a live interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour on Monday, leaving M-1 Global’s Evgeni Kogan to cover for him and make excuses for his absence.
“It might be that he’s went to the movies,” Kogan said at one point.
“At nine ‘o clock in the morning?” Helwani replied.
Helwani was clearly disgruntled by the snub and noted that even as the show continued fans were already writing in to complain.
Meanwhile towards the end of the show one unhappy listener even phoned in to complain about some of Kogan’s answers regarding both Fedor and M-1 Global.
“I don’t really appreciate the kind of answers he [Kogan] gives. They are very much lawyer / politician like.”
To his credit Kogan took the criticism on the chin, but it was an indication that the interview was turning into something of a mini PR disaster for M-1 Global.
Ironically during the interview Kogan addressed the issue of the negative press that M-1 Global has often received in the past and suggested that they intended to redress that by, “writing their own narrative.”
Unfortunately for him that ambiguous statement only seemed to make matters worse. A day after the interview Helwani and Kogan continued to exchange opinions on twitter about it.
Kogan: “Sometimes in the writing of a narrative the absence of content is as much a statement as it’s presence.”
Helwani: “Hmm. So are you implying it was either planned or beneficial to M-1 that Fedor didn’t not show up for his scheduled interview?”
Kogan: “Neither. I’m just saying that there are precedents for difficult behavior being partially what builds careers.”
Helwani: “Hmm. I think I will let you have the last word on this one. Not sure I agree with you.”
Kogan: “practically though it really sucked that he missed your show, and we are going to make it up to you and the fans.”
To make matters more embarrassing for M-1 Global, Sports Illustrated reporter Josh Gross was also left high and dry on Monday as he revealed on twitter.
“Fedor skipped out on me down face to face yesterday after I rushed from LAX to his hotel. How’s that fit in the narrative?”
Helwani responded, “I’m not quite sure what the narrative is at this point.”
Up until that point the only real interview with Fedor promoting Saturday’s night’s show which is a co-promotion between Strikeforce and M-1 Global had been a 10 minute video interview by Strikeforce themselves which had also drawn criticism for it’s dull questions and lukewarm answers from the Russian.
It appears that Fedor has finally re-emerged today though and gave an interview with Sherdog, but it appears the damage has already been done. Of course Fedor does most of his talking in the cage, and it’ll take more than a couple of no-shows for his loyal fans to turn against him.
M-1 Global is another matter though, and this has already developed into something of a minor PR disaster. They already have an image problem, and Evgeni Kogan was seen as part of the solution – someone who could become a Dana White or Scott Coker like spokesman for the company, and take away some of the mystery and mistrust that surrounds the business.
On the evidence of this week so far, he’s got his work cut out for him.