On March 15, M-1 Global
was awarded a judgment in a Dutch court against former light
heavyweight champion Vyacheslav
Vasilevsky and will now seek to uphold that ruling in the
Vasilevsky, 23, signed with
Bellator Fighting Championships this past fall and recently
made his promotional debut in the Season 6 middleweight tournament
quarterfinals on March 16. Now residing in New Jersey on a work
visa, the fighter has been ordered to pay the Russian promotion
€1,000 for each day he breached his contract and €5,000 for each
day he competes for another promotion.
According to M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan,
Vasilevsky remains an M-1 fighter until early 2013 due to a
champion’s clause in the fighter’s contract. Kogan contends that
the clause was activated twice -- once when “Slava” became the M-1
Selection Eastern Europe champion in August 2010, and once when he
won the world light heavyweight title four months later at M-1
Kogan says that he attempted to contact Bellator to notify the
organization that Vasilevsky was under contract with M-1, but that
his attempts proved fruitless.
“We have tried many times to talk to Bellator, to [Bellator CEO]
Bjorn [Rebney], etc.,” Kogan told Sherdog.com via email last week.
“I have personally emailed and called [Rebney] a number of times to
try to get a dialogue going, to work things out without involving
the legal system. We are open to sharing fighters [and] always have
been. Most of our fighters sometimes fight outside of M-1.
“Instead of talking to us, though, all our contact with Bellator
results in letters from their lawyers. Every single call, email,
etc., results in a formal letter from their lawyers,” Kogan
continued. “We feel this isn't conducive to any kind of
relationship. Actually, it's very arrogant and insulting. Now we
are going to get the Dutch judgment upheld in U.S. court and
protect our rights to promote Vasilevsky.”
When asked to forward a copy of the fighter’s contract on the
condition that it would not be published, Kogan declined, stating
that the contract is an internal matter. Instead, the M-1 exec
forwarded to Sherdog a copy of the signed judgment delivered in the
Court of the City of Amsterdam as evidence that Vasilevsky remains
under contract with the promotion.
When asked why M-1 chose to file suit in the Netherlands rather
than in Russia or the United States, Kogan stated that the
jurisdiction of the promotion’s contract with the fighter is in the
Netherlands, where the M-1 head office is located.
On Vasilevsky’s side, the fighter’s manager, Sam Kardan, has been
quoted as stating that he and his fighter were unaware of M-1’s
legal action. Kogan disagrees, asserting that Vasilevsky was served
documents notifying the fighter of the proceedings on March 2.
Kogan forwarded to Sherdog a confirmation email sent to M-1 from
DGR Legal, a New Jersey-based legal services company, alerting M-1
that the fighter had been served.
It is not yet clear how the court’s judgment will affect
Vasilevsky’s future in the short term. Though Bellator has declined
to comment on the situation in recent weeks, the promotion has
nonetheless booked “Slava” to appear in the middleweight semifinals
against Maiquel Falcao on April 20.
While Kogan declined to reveal specifics regarding the
organization’s intent to have the Dutch ruling upheld in the United
States, the M-1 executive was clear about the promotion’s stance on
Vasilevsky competing for any other organization.
“Vasilevsky will not fight in other organizations besides M-1,”
Kogan stated. “We tried to resolve this with Vasilevsky himself a
number of times and with Bellator a number of times. Now the time
for mutual resolution has ended, much to our disappointment, and we
will move ahead with having the Dutch judgment upheld.”