(The photo above was paper-clipped to the front of M-1′s memo to tournament participants that drug testing will be mandatory for the GP. Subtle.)
When Dana White’s favorite Crazy Russian, Vadim Finkelstein speaks, the MMA world listens, mostly just because he usually has a lot of bizarre demands to make.
In a recent interview the head of M-1 did with Russian sports news site Sports.ru, Finkelstein touched on a lot of topics including the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, Fedor’s contract status and his recent statement he made about mandatory drug testing in the later rounds of the tournament.
Check out what Vad-Fink had to say after the jump.
On who conceived the SFHWGP:
"The idea for the tournament was Strikeforce president Scott Coker’s, and we’ve been discussing it for about six months. Simply, it has long been just talk, and we could not officially confirm that it would happen."
On whether or not M-1′s recent statements that they want stringent steroid testing done in the second and third rounds of the tournament were directed at Ubereem:
"We did not care what fighter they wanted us to fight. All this animosity with Overeem’s camp is more inflated than it is in reality. The only thing I said and will say, is that Fedor is clean. He trains in the mountains to improve endurance and from the list of eight fighters in the tournament, two have been caught for doping – Barnett and Silva. And surely some of the others do it as well to gain an advantage."
On whether or not they are pushing for Olympic-style drug testing:
"Yes. But it’s not implemented by some commissions. We have never shied away from a particular battle, I just wanted for Fedor’s opponents to be professional fighters, not chemists. Today doping can significantly add speed and endurance. We just want to make sure that all competitors in the Grand Prix and, hence all of Fedor’s potential opponents to play by the rules."
On when the subsequent rounds of the GP will take place and who he sees advancing:
"It’s very hard to predict the outcomes of the tournament bouts and we don’t really have set dates for the second round and the final, but if all goes well, in February we’ll be looking at semi-finals in the summer and perhaps a fall finale. Everything in general should take eight to nine months."
On whether or not he sees the UFC trying to cock-block the tournament:
"Unfortunately, they’re trying to do everything to stop us. The fact that we announced a conference call, and Dana White decided that the same day he would hold a press conference in New York forcing reporters to choose which one is more important proves his intentions."
On how it will be decided who will step in should a contestant be forced out of the tourney due to injury:
"If the winner can not continue to participate in the tournament, a special commission will decide who will replace him. The decision not be made by me or Scott Coker, so any impact the choice makes on the tournament will not be our fault. In the U.S., in general, every commission in every city we’re looking at holding an event wants to implement different rules for the tournament than we envisioned [like the five-round bouts we planned to have]. They all want to use the rules of the Nevada Commission and they decide everything. I say, very little that can change. I do not like what the U.S. fighters are often strewn with blood and they rarely are stood up by the referees, but in my opinion, in general, very few people care about that. As far as the decision on substitutions, we don’t even know the criteria on which they will make their decisions based on will be. This issue will be addressed in the near future."
On whether or not some of the participants might threaten to pull out of the tournament as a bargaining chip for negotiating a bigger payday:
"I think not. Terms of the tournament are determined, the grid is painted. Although, if Fedor gets a berth in the semi-finals, I plan on insisting on thorough drug testing. You know, I experienced a lot of problems when there was the issue with Josh Barnett and Affliction. Fedor and I do not want this situation again. I lost a lot of money in advertising because of that situation, which was a big problem when I promised the sponsors that the show would be on television. This time we made sure that all the men knew and were aware of the fact that there will be stringent drug testing."
On why it took so long for M-1 and Fedor to come to terms with SF:
"The main problems with the negotiations with Fedor and Strikeforce which took so long to sort out were all of the small details. Everything had to be looked at. When you send a 50-page contract, inevitably there are questions, so it takes time. Besides the TV channel Showtime executives involved in the negotiations. This was necessary, but also delayed the process. Other times to discuss some detail, take weeks. Played a major role, Ken Hershman of Showtime, without him at all, this deal would not happen. Managed, by the way, agree on the show Americans show the M-1 Challenge, this year they will broadcast some amount of tournaments. Generally a lot of time was spent on this contract, always some problems had arisen, much to alter. We say that Fedor would compete in Sambo, yet we were sent the documents that said he couldn’t. I had to redo it all over again, until my lawyers read through it all, translated from English … Furthermore, I under their laws do not have the right to disclose any information about the negotiations. I can not announce the signing of the contract until the paper is signed. I understand that the fans are angry, but we weren’t in a restaurant or tavern sitting leisurely discussing the future of fighters. It’s business. For example, I already knew about the Fedor – Silva fight about six weeks ago, but I couldn’t officially talk about it until it was announced by Strikeforce."
On whether or not Fedor will fight for Stikeforce again this year if he loses prior to the tournament final:
"First of all, we have a contract for four fights if we agree to the opponents. There is a clause in it that states that Fedor could stay for additional fights if he doesn’t find another promotion to sign with after the contract expires. In general, I want to reassure fans, though that Fedor says that he is feeling great, he’s full of energy and is in optimal shape…This is a new contract for four fights, more even three, with right of renewal for one.