Vadim Finkelstein, former manager of MMA heavyweight G.O.A.T. Fedor Emelianenko, spoke recently with RT, about the relationship with now US president Donald Trump. Finkelstein is the founder of Russian MMA promotion M-1 Global. The company co-promoted two MMA events in the USA with Affliction MMA. That company in turn was partnered with Golden Boy Promotions; Trump was the major shareholder. Affliction MMA was run separately from the Affliction apparel line.
Fedor fought Tim Sylvia in 2008 and Andrei Arlovski in 2009, winning both in spectacular fashion. The events also lost a spectacular amount of money, and when a planned fight between Fedor and Josh Barnett was canceled with the latter failed an anti-doping test, the promotion ignominiously folded. However, Finkelstein left with some heavy co-promotion fees, and fond memories of The Donald.
“I remember him as a decent man, and a confident businessman,” said Finkelstein in his native Russian, via translation.
“He’s said some nice words about working with us as well. We have it on the video on our YouTube channel [laughs]. He also said that MMA is the fastest-developing kind of sport, and that it has a great future. But to be honest I am not too fluent in English, so I can’t say that we were close. But only positive emotions. He was always cheering for Fedor [laughing]. I know that for a fact. He was really happy when Fedor beat Arlovski. Despite the fact that Arlovski was technically representing America in this fight, as he speaks good English already had a solid fanbase in the States. But Trump was definitely in Fedor’s corner. I saw his reaction after the knockout. He was visibly pumped. He rushed to the ring to congratulate Fedor.
“I don’t know what kind of President Trump will be though. But I hope for a better relationship between the countries [Russia and the US]. Both countries can achieve more conducting a peaceful business, rather than having this cold war, which everybody is tired of. We want Americans not to worry about coming here [to Russia]. And vice versa, we don’t want to worry about going to the States.
“The media are making monsters out of us [Russians]. But when people come here they change their minds. Russian people are hospitable.”
Finkelstein was asked how he felt when he learned that Fedor had returned from retirement.
“I was really surprised,” he said. “Because he sounded really serious back in 2012 when he said he was retiring. I even tried to convince him to take a fight or two. But he confidently said that he’d retired. So that was a big surprise. It’s going to be a hard fight. Serious opponent. A very good bout in my opinion. Also a very good move for Bellator.”
“I think he misses the fighting. He is a natural-born fighter. And he wants to get back to the thing he likes so much. At some point, he probably got tired of it. Because it’s a hard job. Takes a lot blood and sweat. But after he had a good rest he came back. I think he just can’t live without it. But that’s my opinion.”
UFC president Dana White has said the Fedor was the one that got away, the one fighter he wishes he had signed.
“We were always one step away from signing with UFC,” said Finkelstein. “But it didn’t work out. Now they have a new team. So I don’t really know anyone from there anymore. But I don’t represent Fedor anymore. So it’s up to him now where to perform.”