Mike Kogan: Getting to know a management powerhouse

Image courtesy of Mike Kogan

Mike Kogan, manager to some of the top names in MMA, discusses working with top level talent, Fallon Fox, the fleecing of the sport and more in this exclusive interview.

What do Royce Gracie, King Mo, Roy Nelson, Derek Brunson, Jason High, Georgi Karakhanyan, and now Nate Diaz have in common? They are all managed by the outspoken management force known as Mike Kogan. Mike has been in the business for more than 15 years, but flies under the radar, despite his longstanding work with some of the highest profile names in MMA.

When the news broke earlier this week that Nate Diaz had left Cesar Gracie's management to be a part of Mike's stable, I figured it was time to give our readers a chance to get to know him a little better. While declining to offer a formal comment on the Diaz signing, he did not deny it's validity, either. He did speak on a variety of other topics, to include King Mo's bright future, Jason High's chance to break free of 'King of the Cage rates', what he thinks of the Fallon Fox issue and much more.

King Mo

Here's the thing. Obviously our plans got derailed a little bit. In the summer, Mo was supposed to be fighting for a Bellator title, but that isn't happening because he lost in the tournament. It's kind of bittersweet, you know? It's bitter because he lost, but it's sweet because it validates the tournament structure and what Bellator has been saying, which is basically, 'Hey, nobody just walks in here and waltzes through without effort. It just doesn't happen. Anybody can lose at any time.'

As far as Mo going back to his wrestling roots, he never abandoned them in the first place. He got caught in a stand-up exchange. Countless fighters keep the fight standing, and nobody ever f**king complains. Mo gets caught, and all the sudden he's abandoned his roots. He went in against Mousasi and wrestled him to a victory, and everyone gave him a slap for wrestling. No matter what he does, people are just not going to be happy.

Ultimately, we just make some adjustments in his training camp and the strategies going into the fight. We'll do what we've got to do. We don't pay attention to everyone's opinions, though. Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one, and they're not necessarily all valid.

People said ignorant shit like, 'Oh he tried to be like Mayweather with his hands down and got knocked out.' Nobody teaches you to keep your hands down. His hand was down for a moment and Emanuel Newton capitalized on it. Props to Emanuel, but I guarantee that won't happen again.

He only spars at Mayweather's gym three times a week. The rest of the time he's with Roy Nelson, Marinez and Vinny Magalhaes. There's countless other guys he trains with in MMA, wrestling, jiu jitsu; it all gets mixed together. It's just that Mayweather is a famous name, so people assumed that when Jeff was in his corner, he only trained his boxing.

Everything leading up to the spinning back fist was working for us. He had his timing down. Mo had landed a few clean punches, but Emanuel wasn't really landing. He threw a tricky punch and Mo got clipped. You don't reinvent your entire life based on that.

Can Mo just go in there and start taking people down and controlling them over and over and over? Absolutely, but that's not mixed martial arts. That's just wrestling, and that's what everybody bitches about, so I really don't understand all the criticism. Not criticism in what happened, but criticism in his supposed disregard for wrestling. The fight ended in two and a half minutes. He didn't have a chance to take him down at that point.

Jason High

Jason High is fighting in Brazil next, on the TUF Brazil finale in June. He's had a really rough MMA career. He's so very skilled, yet so very under appreciated. I mean, he's on a seven or eight fight win streak. Some of the guys that he's beaten are getting way more TV and face time than he is.

It is what it is. We're signed with the UFC now, and we've talked with Joe Silva, and he kind of got dumped with a whole heap of fighters, so he's doing the best that he can. Now we're starting a new chapter. He fights in June, and hopefully, from there he'll stay more active.

He really has had it kind of rough, though. I remember seeing an interview with Jorge Masvidal, who hadn't had a fight in six months. He's like, 'I only made $45k in my fight, and I can't live off this.' I was laughing because Jason was getting paid King of the Cage rates. Masvidal should try to walk in Jason High's shoes. To Jason's credit, he always stayed very positive. He trains hard and is one of those guys that's just really easy to work with. He doesn't feel that anything is owed to him. He knows he has to work hard to make it.

UFC Code of Conduct

Here's one thing that people have to understand, The UFC is a privately owned company that has a contract that's provided to all their fighters. Those fighters have managers, and hopefully they've read and understand that contract. Are the rules being applied equally to everyone? No. That's probably the only criticism one can apply. The rules aren't being arbitrarily applied, meaning some people get away with saying shit, and some don't. This makes the people under contract wonder what the Hell is safe and not safe to say.

He got cut because in Dana's words, 'You can't just go in there and call a commissioner a bitch.' Three months later, when Pacquiao got screwed over in the Bradley fight, Dana is all, 'The commission sucks. I've been saying they're a bunch of f**king morons and retards and assholes, blah, blah, blah.'

Mo got cut from the UFC because he called Pat Lundvall a racist bitch because he perceived her comments to be racist at the time. He got cut because in Dana's words, 'You can't just go in there and call a commissioner a bitch.' Three months later, when Pacquiao got screwed over in the Bradley fight, Dana is all, 'The commission sucks. I've been saying they're a bunch of f**king morons and retards and assholes, blah, blah, blah.' At the same time, every fighter knows what they can and can't say, and sometimes you've just got to be political about it.

It's not just the UFC, though. Every sport is like that. Certain athletes get away with shit, and others don't. If you're Tom Brady, you can say whatever you want. If you're some no name linemen that's just a number, then you need to keep your mouth shut. That's just the way it is.

Olympic Wrestling Dilemma

It's beyond ridiculous. It's a very political move, whoever was involved with getting that pushed through. A lot of people say it was because of the ratings, or because there was no interest in watching it. That's bullshit. They have f**king curling on TV. Curling is an Olympic sport. A giant metal piece and a bunch of people basically shaving the ice in front of it to let this metal puck get in a circle. Who the Hell wants to watch that? I'd rather watch flies f*ck than that.

Parasailing ... I remember in 2006 I was waiting to watch judo, but I had to watch 45 minutes of some little f**king boats going around buoys in circles, just so I could catch 15 minutes of judo highlights. It's not the ratings. It's just something that some moron somewhere did whatever he did. Hopefully, it can be undone, but I doubt it, because the Olympics is just as f**king corrupt as any other large sports organization.

Wrestling is older than the Olympics. I mean, we're talking about ancient Greece, here. To abandon a sport that has been around longer than the games ceremony itself, a sport that is basically the cornerstone of the games is ridiculous. They have badminton. They stand around on a beach and throw a little bird thing back and forth with mini tennis rackets. Are you kidding me?

I'm kind of a cynical guy when it comes down to it, and I don't think the Olympic committee just pulled this out of their ass at the last minute. I think it was a concentrated effort, and I don't know if any of the organized work to try to save the wrestling games is going to help, but it's definitely worth a try.

It's a terrible thing. It will have a tremendous impact on high school and college wrestling, and the funding that gets afforded to those programs will suffer dramatically. It really is devastating and is way more than just a sport being dropped from the Olympics. It's terrible.

Fallon Fox

Here's the thing. Fallon is just one person. Way too much attention to one person. Some commissions want to license her, and if there's somebody standing across the cage that wants to fight, fully knowing what's going on there, then so be it. Everybody just needs to back the f*ck off and shut the Hell up.

Here's the thing. Fallon is just one person. Way too much attention to one person. Some commissions want to license her, and if there's somebody standing across the cage that wants to fight, fully knowing what's going on there, then so be it. Everybody just needs to back the f*ck off and shut the Hell up.

The Fleecing of the Sport

One of the upsetting things about the sport is seeing all these organizations come and go. They're wasting millions and millions of dollars, and more than half of them didn't have a legitimate reason to get into mixed martial arts. Most were just schemes to get investors to line their pockets. What happens in the process of their get rich quick shit, is that real players get prevented from being able to get in and really make a lasting impact.

Millions of dollars have been pissed away on these people that have no clue what they're doing or never really had intention of doing anything worthwhile. They just got in, scammed a bunch of money, and got out. The more real competitive organizations that are out there, the better it is for the fighters and the fans.

A Positive Note for MMA

The growth of MMA, as a whole, is inspiring. The UFC landed a significant long term partnership with FOX, and that's a huge deal. Also, the growth of Bellator from a grass roots level organization to the number two promotion is great to see. They're really putting out some great numbers now that they're with SPIKE TV.

People like to be overly critical of Bellator by comparing it to the UFC, but if you talk about having true network promotion, they've done an amazing job in just one season. They're able to maintain great numbers with fighters that 80% of the hardcore fans don't know, much less the casual fans. That's remarkable. It's a positive thing to have more than one platform for these fighters to make a home with.

You can follow Mike via his Twitter account, @MikeKogan

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