By now everyone and their dog has read this interview between Sherdog and Fedor’s manager, so I’ll try not to repeat what every other blogger has already said about this. One bit of info no one has really touched on: M-1 and Bodogfight have had a falling out of sorts, which pretty much puts Bodog out of the picture for signing Fedor. So if you were thinking Fedor vs Barnett in Bodogfight, you can cross that off:
Sherdog.com: Please discuss the last event that you organization.
VF: That was the BodogFight event in St. Petersburg on April 14. I thought Bodog behaved very badly in regard to that event. They acted as though the whole organization of the event and everything surrounding it, the VIPs such as Jean Claude Van Damme and Vladimir Putin: was because of them. In reality I and my brother [Evgeny Finkelstein] organized 90% of it.
The logo for the event was also very unfortunate, Bodog Fight was very prominent and they almost hid a small M-1 logo in the corner in all marketing materials, so that it was almost impossible to see. So I am not particularly pleasantly disposed towards BodogFight at the moment.
I am talking about collaborations similar to the one with BodogFight, except that BodogFight is not an organization that has integrity and I will not work with them again. They used us to get a foot in the door in Russia and have now started developing their own business here on their own.
Just as I suspected: Bodog was in charge of those slutty dancing girls and the really bad music, while M-1 did everything else. Not much of a surprise there.
Now onto the juice regarding Fedor and the UFC:
Sherdog.com: As Fedor’s manager, can you please fill us in on the current state of his contract negotiations.
VF: At the moment we are in negotiations with a number of organizations who have put offers on the table. I’ll be blunt in saying that the UFC offer is the most financially attractive one. However they are very harsh in their terms and are not very flexible in actually negotiating them.
Fedor has now been the PRIDE heavyweight champion for four years and I think we have earned the right to negotiate a contract that suits both parties. Instead we are faced with a blunt “you are either in or you’re out.” This does not really suit us. If the negotiations continue in a similar manner, we’ll prefer to fight for less money but with an organization which is more flexible.
The problem is that Fedor is the face of Combat Sambo in Russia. His popularity is at a level where he is acquainted with president Putin himself, in part because he is so successful and well known for Combat Sambo here.
Combat Sambo is a Russian sport that’s not at a level of difficulty of MMA, but is hugely popular with our public. Fedor must represent Russia in Combat Sambo and at world championships, specifically the ones coming up in September. All we want him to do is compete something like once a year in Combat Sambo. But the UFC is not happy with that.
Their proposal has all kinds of clauses, all kinds of fines etc. that do not suit us. The UFC is not really that eager to communicate and negotiate. The negotiations are still continuing, and we will try very hard to get our demands met, if not Fedor will simply not compete in the UFC, even though that will be unfortunate as they currently have one of the, if not the, strongest, heavyweight divisions in the world.
This Finkelstein guy seems like a big fish in a small pond. Sure, he’s got control of Russia and all the good Russian fighters, but why the fuck should the UFC care about that? They don’t even seem to care about Japan, and Japan was the fight mecca of the world until just a few years ago.
The truth of the matter is that there’s no legitimate heavyweight division in the world outside of Zuffa’s organizations right now. The only decent opponent for Fedor not under contract at the moment is Josh Barnett, and one fight will not give any company the momentum they need to compete with the UFC. The UFC knows this, so why should they bend the rules they’ve never bent for anyone else? Once you start making exceptions for one fighter, it opens up the door for other fighters to demand the same. And that’s a slippery fucking slope no one at Zuffa wants to go down.
Simply put, it takes two to tango. The only dancing partner not under Zuffa control that isn’t a total joke for Fedor is Josh Barnett, and then what? If I were Dana White, I’d sit back and wait. If another US company wants to blow the money to pick Fedor up for a show or two, it will just end up with them losing money.