Vadim Finkelstein is a name that many MMA fans have learned over the past few years, especially within the last few months and Fedor’s epic contract negotiations with the UFC then the signing with Strikeforce. M-1 Global has shot into the minds of MMA and combat sports fans with all of this, never mind the M-1 vs The World series that airs on HDNet. M-1 Global has a big co-promotion coming up with Strikeforce, with M-1 fighter Fedor Emelianenko taking on Brett “Grim” Rogers on CBS.
Our passion may be kickboxing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get excited over stuff like this, so we had to get to the root of matters and talk to the man himself, Vadim Finkelstein.
K-1 LEGEND: Has M-1 Global lived up to your expectations so far?
Vadim Finkelstein: Basically, I’m satisfied with the evolution of M-1 Global. The organization, in the format you can see today, has been functioning less than 2 years. The last year we had many experiments. A new system for the fighters moving up the ladder will be introduced starting from the next year’s season. It will be a more robust Olympic-like system.
K-1 LEGEND: What are your plans for M-1 Global and who do you see as the top prospects to reach possible Fedor levels?
Vadim Finkelstein: We have a lot of fighters in our stable that are very promising. I don’t want to point anyone in particular, don’t want to leave others out. Every country participating in our M-1 Challenge tournaments has
some up-and-coming talents. Just to give you an example, Shane del Rosario, Dave Jansen, Lucio Linhares are all M-1 veterans who signed with major promotions by now. As I said previously, we’ll introduce a new fighters’ selection system, so you’ll be able to see the best athletes in action more often. As for Fedor, hes unique, so far I
haven’t met anyone who could replace him eventually.
K-1 LEGEND: Do you see Strikeforce providing the level of competition worthy of a fighter like Fedor?
Vadim Finkelstein: Of course I do. Strikeforce has many talented top heavyweights. Not less, than in any other promotion. The first one will be Brett Rogers at Strikeforce/M-1 event on November, 7.
K-1 LEGEND: It seems like the deal between M-1/Fedor and UFC fell through because M-1 wanted more than UFC could offer. Do you think it’ll ever be possible to see Fedor in a UFC ring without a co-promotion?
Vadim Finkelstein: I think, that at this point of time it’s impossible. Fedor is part of M-1, he’s the shareholder of the organization that represents his own interests. Listen, Fedor became who he is today without having to compete in the UFC. It was the UFC that came to us, not other way around. We were willing to negotiate. We wished to have Fedor fight
the best UFC athletes, but in the context of interorganizational collaboration. UFC won’t co-promote, while all other MMA and boxing organizations do. UFC tries to drive other competitors out of the MMA industry. But the thing is, we don’t intend to take UFC’s business, take its sponsors or whatever. We were prepared to cooperate according to the business rules sharing not only benefits but costs as well.
K-1 LEGEND: While I understand this has more to do with Apy than it does you, what exactly happened with Gegard Mousasi and why did he believe he was offered a contract by the UFC? There are many conflicting stories and it’d be nice to have something to put the rumors to rest with.
Vadim Finkelstein: Well, I believe the UFC has never made an official offer. Moreover, it was simply impossible. By that time the deal with Strikeforce was successfully signed after 3-4 months of negotiations.
K-1 LEGEND: What future fights does Fedor have in mind? The best fight outside of Rogers in Strikeforce is easily Alistair Overeem, is that still a possibility?
Vadim Finkelstein: Anything’s possible. We don’t dodge anybody. Time will tell but Fedor is ready to fight whoever. Of course, I personally would like to see Fedor fight Josh Barnett. The whole world was anticipating this battle. Barnett earned his merits not only in the USA, but in Japan, too. Unfortunately, he gave us tons of headaches and problems with that Affliction debacle. We even consider filing a lawsuit against him.
K-1 LEGEND: How is Fedor preparing for his fight against Brett Rogers and what are the thoughts going in on Rogers? Rogers is still a sort of unknown at this point to a lot of newer fans.
Vadim Finkelstein: Fedor believes his opponent is a top fighter, a knockout artist. One should overestimate his opponent. Fedor respects him as a fighter. He’s in a serious training camp now preparing diligently for the November, 7 fight.