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Fedor’s manager, Vadim Finkelchtein, responds to Dana White in Part I of new, exclusive interview

FiveOuncesOfPain.com contacted M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchtein earlier this week in attempt to get his response to comments made by UFC President Dana White during a Monday night interview with “The Carmichael Dave Show” on KHTK radio in Sacramento.

Finkelchtein granted FiveOuncesOfPain.com’s interview request on New Year’s Day and conducted nearly an hour long interview via phone from his home in St. Petersburg Russia.

During the extensive interview, Finkelchtein was asked detailed questions regarding M-1’s past negotiations with the UFC regarding WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. In response, Finkelchtein provided detailed answers that were translated through M-1 Global U.S.-based executive Steve Bash.

Below is Part I of FiveOuncesOfPain.com’s conversation with Finkelchtein.

Sam Caplan: When was the first time the UFC and Fedor ever discussed the possibility of him fighting for the promotion?

Vadim Finkelchtein: The first time that we ever discussed Fedor with the UFC was in Japan, when the UFC bought out PRIDE.

Sam Caplan: Can you describe the frequency and volume of communications between M-1 Global and the UFC regarding Fedor since that time?

Vadim Finkelchtein: The first time we spoke in Japan we were talking about different things that we’ve been talking about since, because at first the UFC had promised that PRIDE would continue in Japan and that they would not only continue but expand all over the world. We were very interested in that because obviously Fedor was the champion and in reality what happened when they bought PRIDE was that they buried it and killed it. So since then, our discussions have been different.

Sam Caplan: When was the last time formal communications took place between the UFC and M-1 Global regarding Fedor?

Vadim Finkelchtein: The last official sitdown and official negotiation that we had was right before we formed M-1 Global in essentially the structure that exists today. At that point we were very interested in working with the UFC but the terms and restrictions that they had brought forth to Fedor, mainly, as well as us with M-1 Global were not acceptable. Things such as Fedor would not be allowed to participate in Sambo tournaments, which to him is a very important part of his life. It’s the national sport of Russia and a hobby for him. We felt that it was actually a minor detail in trying to get a deal done but the UFC was categorically opposed to really having Fedor do anything in his life unless the UFC was involved and unless he was doing it under the UFC banner.

Sam Caplan: Many things have been reported in the public as far as what M-1 has asked from the UFC. I wanted to see if I could run them by you and see what was fact and fiction? First, there was a report that in order for the UFC to sign Fedor, they would also have to agree to co-promote events in Russia with M-1?

Vadim Finkelchtein: No, that’s false. There were never any demands made that the UFC come to Russia and promote shows. The contract that the UFC offered was a very, very rigid contract. And it was rigid for Fedor. Fedor was simply not in agreement with having so many freedoms (restricted) at the level he’s at in the sport.

There were maybe ten things that simply he never imagined he would have to give up in his life and in his career to be a part of the UFC. And what happened in result, M-1 Global had been formed. M-1 had always existed (since 1997) but the “Global” version – the new company – was formed and essentially the same offers that were made to Fedor by the UFC – except for what Fedor did not want in that contract – were basically made to Fedor and Fedor signed the same contract without those rigid terms, with M-1 Global.

Sam Caplan: The restriction of competing in Combat Sambo tournaments has been identified, but could you speak to some of the other clauses in the UFC contract that Fedor felt were restrictive?

Vadim Finkelchtein: Honestly, it’s been awhile and the lawyers were handling the negotiations at the time. I don’t remember all of the restrictive terms that Fedor wasn’t agreeable with. I just recall that there were a lot of terms that he wasn’t used to. A lot of things just didn’t seem to make sense or didn’t seem to be very fair.

There were terms in there where certain payments and purse withholdings — basically terms that said he wouldn’t get paid if he did something wrong. And the list of things he could have done wrong was pretty large and it made him feel that there would have been a chance that he could have done his work and not been compensated for it.

There were terms in there about the UFC’s power to change opponents at any minute without Fedor’s permission where if he was fighting one opponent for a fight and then last minute they would switch another opponent. There were things in (the contract) that would have put all of the control in the UFC’s hands.

The negotiations didn’t go very far and the reason why was because the UFC had an attorney that is different from the one that they have today. The attorney at that time, all we did essentially was send them notice that we were not happy with certain terms and that we wanted to discuss them. But the response we got from the UFC attorneys was “This is the contract, you either sign it or see you later. There is no other conversation.”

That’s really where the negotiations ended because at that point we felt that he’s the number one fighter in the world, at the very least you could hear him out why certain terms should be negotiated and discussed. After that point we didn’t even concentrate on all of those terms because we didn’t even get a chance to talk to them about changing them.

Sam Caplan: Was it true that a contract that the UFC presented to Fedor included a “champions” clause, which stipulated that if he won the UFC heavyweight title, he could not become a free agent if he was a champion even if he had fulfilled his contract number of fights?

Vadim Finkelchtein: Yes, there was a clause like that. It was something about an automatic extension in the event he became champion. And that’s another example of how the contract was too one-sided and we couldn’t just sign it and go on. We had to talk about things and that never happened.

Sam Caplan: Did M-1 ask that Fedor be referred to as an “M-1 Fighter” during all UFC telecasts and did M-1 ask that its logo be featured in UFC commercials and inside the Octagon?

Vadim Finkelchtein: That’s not true. It’s not true because at the time we sat down with the UFC to discuss the potential of Fedor fighting in the UFC, M-1 Global didn’t exist. M-1 existed for many years but it was basically just a company that did MMA fights in Russia and other parts of Europe.

The reason why M-1 Global was formed was after the discussions with the UFC because we didn’t really care about having M-1 on a UFC mat or anything like that until we realized we couldn’t work with the UFC. I have a partner now, Sergey Matvienko, he came forward and essentially the idea of having this global MMA company such as M-1 Global was never even in our minds when we were speaking to the UFC. It was only something that was born after we realized that the UFC wasn’t even going to talk to us about the concerns that we had.

The only thing we said to the UFC was that we wanted to have some open dialogue about some points. We told them, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if Fedor is a part of the UFC and he’s the best heavyweight in the world and he happens to be Russian for us to do a show in Russia?” But it was never a demand. It was never us saying “This is something you must do in order to have Fedor.” It was simply a request for some open dialogue.

29 COMMENTS
  • TylerDurden says:

    Awesome interview! There are two sides to every story. It’s nice to finally hear Finkelchtein’s side.

  • mmastation says:

    2 sides to every story and the truth in this case probably is somewhere in the middle.

  • john says:

    hes a schmuck, i take everything Vadim Finkelchtein says with a grain of salt

  • 45huddle says:

    Yeah, he’s not exactly a trustworthy source.

    He hasn’t been able to play well with The Fertitta’s or The Owner of Bodog. Both of which are very successful businessmen. There is a reason for that.

  • Big Dummy says:

    Here is the question and answer where he lost me:

    Sam Caplan: The restriction of competing in Combat Sambo tournaments has been identified, but could you speak to some of the other clauses in the UFC contract that Fedor felt were restrictive?

    Vadim Finkelchtein: Honestly, it’s been awhile and the lawyers were handling the negotiations at the time. I don’t remember all of the restrictive terms that Fedor wasn’t agreeable with. I just recall that there were a lot of terms that he wasn’t used to. A lot of things just didn’t seem to make sense or didn’t seem to be very fair.

    To me I always get skeptical when a question asks for examples and you get a very vague answer and no definite example as an answer. Now he went on to try and give a couple examples but those sounded a bit shaky after his initial answer to the question of not really remembering.

  • banter says:

    Thanks Sam very good.

    3 sides to every story, his, theirs and the truth.

  • DK says:

    I don’t see why the UFC wouldn’t let Fedor do combat sambo when they allow their fighters to do Abu Dhabi. Somewhere within this whole rats nest of political speak there has to be a piece of validity.

  • Imbecile says:

    Vadim Finklechtein is such a sleazy liar. He makes Jared Shaw look like a Boy Scout.

    First off, it wasn’t just the UFC that he had trouble dealing with. Monte Cox bent over backwards for this guy, and still couldn’t get Fedor to fight for him.

    Also, Finklechtein says that co-promoting with M-1 was never a demand, and neither was promoting in Russia. So we are supposed to believe he just politely said, “Hey, Fedor is Russian, so wouldn’t it be great if we id a show in Russia…?” Sure, that’s all it was. I nice polite suggestion. I remember an interview before all of the M-1 Global stuff happened, where Finklechtein was talking about his disillusionment with his relationship with Bodog after one show, and his major complaints were that they were unwilling to promote more shows in Russia, and that they said they were partners but didn’t display the M-1 logo prominently enough for his liking during the telecast. So he has a history of demanding these things, and when the co-promotion doesn’t feature M-1’s logo enough, he no longer wants to work with the company. He already dissolved one business relationship in the past over these issues, and now we are supposed to take him at his word that he never made these demands to the UFC.

    He is a liar who is trying to take advantage of the general anti-Dana White sentiment on the internet and make himself look good by denying claims he has a clear history of making. This guy is a sleazeball.

  • jj420 says:

    It seems some people are oddly quick to defend the UFC’s ridiculously one sided contracts. Why is everyone so pro-business/anti-fighter? Since when was Dana an honourable business man? He runs the UFC as cut throat as possible, yet when someones manager is looking out for his fighters best interest they become “crazy untrustworthy russians” and people come out of the woodwork to draw out those opinions. With the way Dana is always out there bad mouthing Fedor, I think it shows how upset Dana was to not sign him.

    Dana has publicly stated that the only fighter he was sad to lose was Arlovski, I wonder if that will change depending on the outcome of the next Affliction event. It sounded like the UFC brass were bending over backwards trying to keep Andre, yet their negotiation tactics with Fedor are from another planet.

  • NJMMAFAN says:

    Dana isnt showing any ill nature to just fedor when it comes to bein aggravated with the people he has to deal with just to have the fighter. He did just cut Fitch because of AKA, granted he resigned him. I think it would be really interesting for AA to knock fedor out or something…that would really shake up this whole thing

  • Justin Van Hook says:

    Shadiness on all sides in this one no doubt, I have a hard time believing what this guy says. That being said I have an even harder time believing what that dickskin Dana White says.

  • mike wolfe says:

    Seems to me that the issue is one of control. M-1 and Finckelchtein want prominence even though Fedor’s contract would be with UFC and UFC would be promoting his fights with their money and brand. Allowing M-1 to prominently market itself at UFC’s expense probably doesn’t make sense to UFC, especially if there’s the chance that M-1 might start promoting rival events. Why allow yourself to be used like that? Fedor needs the UFC more than UFC needs Fedor. He’s virtually unknown outside the long-time or hard core MMA fan base, especially since UFC isn’t rebroadcasting his old PRIDE fights.

  • ctownhood says:

    “There were terms in there where certain payments and purse withholdings — basically terms that said he wouldn’t get paid if he did something wrong.”

    Ummm…..and there’s a problem with that? Like Dana or not…he doesn’t hide things….or stumble when you as him direct questions. Funny how he could not remember sticking points on the contract disputes. Hope Dana reads this and responds as only Dana can. Not bashing on Fedor here either..I still believe he is the #1 HW in the world. But his management sucks!

  • detroit_fan says:

    Good read, but i don’t believe a word that comes out fo that “crazy russian’s” mouth

  • buzzcramp says:

    All promoters are cutthroat sleazebags.. simple as that.

  • egad81 says:

    sounds true to me.
    UFC is more of a dictatorship then a democrocy.

    Really funny hearing the Russians say they dont want to give up their freedom.

    GO FIGURE…. we are losing all of ours here in the USA

  • HexRei says:

    john on January 2nd, 2009 11:14 am

    hes a schmuck, i take everything Vadim Finkelchtein says with a grain of salt

    Is that you, Dana?

  • egad81 says:

    sounds true to me.
    UFC is more of a dictatorship then a democracy.

    Really funny hearing the Russians say they dont want to give up their freedom.

    GO FIGURE…. we are losing all of ours here in the USA

  • DOOM says:

    Good read….
    War AA

  • Jahbulon says:

    “UFC is more of a dictatorship than a democracy”

    I take it you’ve never held a job in your life?

  • anomie42 says:

    Mike Wolfe, Fedor does not need the UFC. He earns a very good living outside of the organization, just like a number of other fighters.

    So many American fight fans think that the USA is the only place for MMA, but they need to pick up a magazine, any MMA publication actually, and they will find that MMA has been around alot longer outside of the country than inside it. A recent posting on another site was a statement from Rogan saying the UFC needed to pick up Manhoef but he’s too expensive. Joakim Hansen has also stated that he’ll never strap it up for the UFC because they are unrealisitic from a business standpoint.

    The UFC likes to claim they have the best fighters in the world. And yes, they have the majority of the best, but there are still a ton of great fighters out there that would dominate in the UFC.

  • Alvis says:

    I wanna see the likes of Amar Suloev, Gegard Mousasi and other Red Devils compete regularly.

    I dont think Finkelstein will ever be able to cut a deal with Dana.

  • Jeremy says:

    “There were terms in there about the UFC’s power to change opponents at any minute without Fedor’s permission where if he was fighting one opponent for a fight and then last minute they would switch another opponent. There were things in (the contract) that would have put all of the control in the UFC’s hands.”

    That would be unlike any other situation.

    Every time a fighter is pulled, the remaining fighter is given options: Rich Franklin when Kampmann was hurt, Hughes when Serra and GSP were hurt.

    The reality is that each fight requires both fighters to sign a fight agreement. If one of the prinicipals is changed, both have to sign a new fight agreement.

  • mike wolfe says:

    Anomie42

    What I said was that Fedor needs the UFC more than it needs him because he’s not widely known outside the longtime and hard core fan base. If you’re reading MMA magazines, you’re part of that base. Fedor would have virtually no name recognition outside that group, and recognition is why sponsors pay athletes big money. Fedor may make a good living, but if promoted correctly, he would make an outstanding one. Don’t give me some nonsense about him being a warrior and not caring about money. He’s a professional athlete who performs for money, and would take more rather than less any day of the week. His career has been badly mishandled by Finkelchtein, and any professional agent would tell you the same thing.

  • samuel says:

    without the promoters there are no fights !!!!

  • Imbecile says:

    I agree with Mike Wolfe’s argument that Fedor needs the UFC more than the other way around. However, neither party *needs* the other, but the fans want to see both sides make it happen.

    The problem is, in a private enterprise, the employee doesn’t call the shots, and that is what Fedor and his management want to do. In one of his poorly thought out statements above, egad81 said that the UFC is more of a dictatorship than a democracy. You don’t say! Somebody should explain to this budding Adam Smith that private corporations *are* run more more like dictatorships (though ideally with more benign intent) than democracies for a reason. First and foremost, with private ownership they are led by their owners. I know this may be a tough concept that someone who owns something should get the major say in how it is run, but there should be disproportionate power between the employer and the employee, since it is the employers business. There also is a heirarchy of power within the organization with the keys to that power resting at the top, with White and Fertitta in this case, and it should be this way.

    Imagine if employees in all companies got to vote on their salaries, amount of time off, work hours, etc. Well, it isn’t hard to imagine. It would look a lot like government, where they spend money they don’t have, have a terrible work ethic, and generally screw things up.

    Also, egad81, why don’t you learn a little more about the real world before you start complaining about all the “freedoms” you are losing, and comparing your country to Russia. If you ever had to experience what most of the rest of the world is like you might show some appreciation.

  • SicMMA says:

    Good read….but i don’t buy it.

  • Glenn says:

    Sounds to me like an ego clash. Dana and the UFC are used to being able to demand thing in contracts with no negotiation. This is highlighted by the Fitch situation when he was looking to negotiate his marketing rights agreement with a time limit of 5 or even 10 years, yet the UFC wouldnt budge. Similarly, in this situation, seemingly trivial contract inclusions that Fedor wasnt happy with were fixed in the contract with no process of give and take between the 2 parties. As Fedor isnt reliant on the UFC, this apparent refusal to compromise and negotiate resulted in a case of ‘rightyo, screw you then, I can do better elsewhere’. And so he has.

    The funny thing is how people make out that he SHOULD go to the UFC or he NEEDS to go to the UFC, as if anything else is ridiculously abnormal and something must be wrong if he doesnt. There are more interesting and challenging fights for him outside the UFC. He didnt sign with Sengoku, he didnt sign with Strikeforce, he didnt sign with a host of orgs yet we constantly hear about the UFC deal that didnt get done. Why? Coz Dana pipes up speaking about ‘crazy russians’ and forces Vadim to respond. Affliction was simply the most attractive offer. Good luck to the cyborg!

  • Dustin says:

    wow dana white is corrupt they dissrespected the red devil team, not letting fedor fight sambo is like taking bull fighting away from mexico to him, a sport that the country represents and sambo is fedor’s pride, and dont you all deny that we have our own pride of somthing we like to do, imagine if someone tryd taking that away from you? you gonna let that happen? your career? heck no!! and for the attorney saying this is the contract either sign it or see ya? and promissing for pride to continue!? DANA WHITE YOU JUST BEEN EXPOSED AND JAMIE KENNEDY EXPERIANCE BECAUSE YOU JUST BEEN X’d!!!!!! you give the ufc a bad name

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