We at combatbear.com managed to get an interview from busy M-1 president Vadim Finkelstein. Here he shares his thoughts on April’s M-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix and his purpose of visiting UFC events in both Stockholm and London. We ask him if Fedor’s comeback is likely to happen and will the organization ever re-sign little brother Alexander Emelianenko?
On April 9 in St-Petersburg, Russia, M-1 Challenge 38 took place, where Konstantin Gluhov and Kenny Garner met in the main event. This was also the first time the M-1 took in use their freshly designed ring, “Rage”, combining both a ring and a cage. But although “Rage” didn’t hold the entire evening, the president of M-1 Global Vadim Finkelstein still feels the event was a success.
Hello Vadim, congratulations with the new ring. Are you happy with the Grand Prix in general?
Yes, I’m very happy. All was not quite as I had expected. And unexpected things happen. I knew little about Shaban Ka, and thought he would lose to Alexei Kudin. But MMA is an unpredictable sport and Shaban Ka quickly managed to win over such a strong contender as Alexei Kudin. I also really liked the fight between reigning M-1 heavyweight champion Kenny Garner against Konstantin Gluhov. In general, and in the opinion of the fans, the tournament was very successful. Almost every fight was a handiwork of our matchmakers Alexander Shuldyakova and Stanislav Kharlamov. A well-composed fightcard gathered all the best fighters. That's why all the fights were very interesting and entertaining. I have not heard any complaints, other than some complaints about the refereeing.
Which fight did you like the most?
All fights were interesting, each memorable in its own way. Still, I can highlight the fight between Garner and Gluhov. Because of the rope trouble, and everything else, and the real courage of both Kenny Garner and Konstantin Gluhov.
What will now happen with Kenny Garner?
Kenny is our defending champion and he will continue to perform. I think we will see him soon in the ring. Kenny's a very exciting fighter.
Were you surprised by Shaban Ka?
Yes, he surprised me a lot. His victory over such a serious fighter as Alexei Kudin is a big deal. In general, I really liked him.
On May 25, after a short retirement, Aleksander Emelianenko will face Bob Sapp at Legend Fighting Show in Moscow, Russia. Due to several violations of his contract, Aleksander Emelianenko was released from M-1 Global in December last year. A day later “Grim Reaper” announced his retirement via Facebook, thanking his fans for the support.
We wonder if there’s any chance that we will ever see Alexander Emelianenko back in the M-1?
I do not know. In the near future, definitely not.
During UFC on Fuel TV 9 in Stockholm, Sweden last month, Vadim Finkelstein was spotted among the audience. The news was given a lot of attention in the media, perhaps because of the strained relationship between M-1 boss Finkelstein and UFC president White.
You were noticed at the UFC event in Sweden, what was the reason for your visit? Did you come to see Mousasi?
No, I came to negotiate with the IMAF. Why can’t I attend the UFC tournament? What a strange question. I would like to meet with the same organization, as I’m heading myself. We would like to collaborate. We will be holding a championship on June 15 in Europe as a part of our World Association of MMA, and I'd like to see the national team of the Swedish Federation participate and bring their fighters to fight.
Our World Association of MMA (WMMAA) are actively working, we have held the European Championship, we held national championships in different countries. At the moment, our association has more than 20 active countries. From 5 to 8 September, we will hold the world championship in Moscow.
Dana White said he didn’t know you were at the UFC event in Sweden, is that true?
Well, I knew that he was there (smiling). I did not come to him and not on his invitation, I did not want to disturb him in his work. I came for my business.
Two months earlier Finkelstein was reportedly seen at UFC on FUEL TV 7 in London, England.
We also heard that you have visited UFC event in England, is it true?
Yes, it’s true. I'm trying to work with all organizations. UFC expands their horizons, and to England I was invited to meet with the man who is now in charge of Europe. Now we are engaged in the same business- MMA development. It's not bad that organizations cooperate. I came there to find common interests.
UFC boss Dana White has predicted the UFC will reach Russia sometime during 2013. Before a Russian version of “The Ultimate Fighter”, White has plans for a live event and is very confident it will catch on. But M-1 Global is still open for cooperation with the UFC and has no fears putting M-1 fighters against UFC fighters. Finkelstein knows M-1 fighters are every bit as good as UFC fighters.
UFC plans to make an event in Russia, what do you think about this?
I think that I can help them with this. There’s no one in Russia who can make such a show better than me.
What do you think about making a tournament - the best M-1 fighters against the best UFC fighters?
UFC will unlikely agree. I don’t mind, we have the fighters who we can show. I believe our fighters’ level is no lower than the UFC fighters’.
One of the world’s greatest fighter, a true legend, Russian Fedor Emelianenko retired June last year following a first round knockout victory over Brazilian Pedro Rizzo at M-1 “Fedor vs. Rizzo”. The previous pro-fighter “The Last Emperor” now holds a high position in the Russian government and is still the president of the Russian MMA Union. But what we all want to know is; will we ever see Fedor back in the game?
Have you heard anything about Fedor’s possible return? By the way, how is he? What is he doing?
Fedor now holds a high position in the government - Advisor to the Minister of Sport in Russia. He feels good and he is still training. He heads the Union of Russian MMA. In Russia it is recognized as an official sport, the same as judo, is a registry of official sports. Fedor travels around holding seminars around the country. I would love to have him return, but right now he has no such plans. He is still full of physical strength and capabilities.
M-1 Global has earlier had tournaments in Europe and USA, now they might have more plans for Europe, Asia, and maybe some co-promotion in Sweden.
Are you planning to make M-1 in Sweden?
We are ready to hold the tournament in cooperation with the Swedish federation.
Will there be any tournaments abroad?
Only in the former Soviet republics: Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Perhaps in any of the European countries, but I cannot yet say for sure.
It looks as if things are going just great for M-1 Global. The MMA-organization keeps holding successful shows even without the legendary Fedor Emelianenko on the fight card. They keep growing and are now planning to expand further in Europe and Asia. In September a world championship will be held in Moscow, Russia.
Although Fedor is still very much involved in MMA, as the head of the Russian MMA Union and holding martial arts seminars throughout Russia, it would be terrific to once again see him compete. It would have been pure joy seeing Fedor back with M-1, testing their new “Rage”. But for now it seems as if he has made up his mind. However, should he have a change of heart, there’s no doubt he would still have a home at M-1 Global, and who knows, maybe there might even be some room for Aleksander as well?