Nick Thomas had a great article up yesterday (here if you missed it) discussing some Google Translated snippets from an interesting interview with Vadim Finkelstein. Debate over the translation got to the point where I decided to have a proper Russian do the job.
Keep in mind, gentle reader, our translator is clueless about MMA which becomes apparent pretty quick. I left in her anecdotes, which will be italicized, because I thought they were funny and added flavor. I did fix the odd name spellings (Werdum/Verdym) etc., though.
( The funky phrasing is endearing if you read this with an accent and I dare not rob you of that.)
Interviewer: A lot of people are talking about the future heavyweight tournament in Strikeforce. In general, the Grand Prix was whose idea?
Vadim: The idea was Scott Coker's, the President of Strikeforce, and we have long discussed it, about half of the year. It's just that for the longest time it was just at the level of discussion, and we couldn't confirm it officially.
Interviewer: What were the main reasons stopping it [the confirmation]?
Vadim: There wasn't one main problem, there were a lot of hang-ups on the little things, the details. Everything had to be discussed. When you get a contract 50 pages long, there will unavoidably be questions. That killed time. Also the producers of the tv channel Showtime were involved in the negotiations. It was mandatory, but also lengthened the process. Every time, to discuss one detail, it required a week. Ken Hershman of Showtime played a big role, without him this whole thing might not have ever come together. We were able to, actually, come to a compromise about the American show M-1 Challenge, this year they will provide translations for a certain number of tournaments.
Interviewer: Where there any problems with any of the fighters? Overeem, Werdum, in particular?
Vadim: No, honestly, there were none. And it didn't matter to us which fighter, and they wanted fight. All of this feuding with Overeem was blown out of proportion on sites. One thing I have said and will say: Fedor is a clean fighter. He trains in the hills to become more resistant, but of the 8, 2 have already been busted for doping- Barnett and Silva. I'm sure someone is still using, as we were insisting that everything be fair, to have equal strength.
Interviewer: Is that is why Alexander Michkov was recently talking about enforcing an Olympic system for doping control?
Vadim: Yes. But the problem isn't with the system. We never avoided any sort of controlled fighting, I just wanted a professional opponent for my fighter, not a "chemist". Today doping can successfully add to speed and endurance. We just want for all of the fighters of the Grand Prix, the potential opponents of Fedor's, to fight fair.
Interviewer: Can you comment on the time scheduled?
Vadim: It's very hard to guess and we don't have any concrete dates yet, but if everything goes smoothly in April there should be another tournament with 2 different pairs (Overeem, Werdum; Barnett, Rodgers) in the summer, a semi-final, and probably a final in the fall. All in all it should take about 8 months. Regarding the UFC, unfortunately, you can't forget: they are doing everything to get in our way. It comes down to us scheduling a press conference, and White deciding to go to the journalists the same day, who in turn are torn and must decide.
Interviewer: Coker stated that in the event of trauma to one of the fighters of the Grand Prix, he will be replaced by the commissioner's board. Who is part of that board?
Vadim: Yes, that is so. If the winner can't continue the tournament, a special board will decide who will continue in his place. I won't be in their collective, nor will Scott Coker, so we won't be able to influence their decisions. In the USA, everything is different when it comes to judging and organizing a tournament-- there you get judges from Nevada's commission, and they decide. I, for example, can change very little. I don't like that in the USA, fighters can be completely bloody and they won't be picked up, but my opinion means very little to anyone. This applies to the replacement as well. I don't even know the categories upon which their decision will be made. I'll be handling that in the nearest future.
Interviewer: Is there risk, that after quarterfinals, the fighters will start to leave the fight, or make any additional demands?
Vadim: I don't think so. There are certain rules, a net of scheduling (well that's a funky phrase). Although, if Fedor goes to the semi-final, I plan to insist the opponent be tested. You see, I've had to live through a lot of problems when the fight between Fedor and Josh Barnett fell through. I don't want the situation reoccurring. I had to spend a lot of money on the same advertising, there were a lot of issues with television management. I want, this time, for all the fighters to understand and be ready for very meticulous testing.
Interviewer: If it so happens that Fedor loses in the quarter-finals, are there any additional options available for him to further his career this year?
Vadim: First of all, we have a 4 fight contract. We will negotiate within those time frames. There is a point that mentions he may stop if he's plagued by misfortune. In general, I want to ease the fans- Fedor says he feels great, is full of strength and energy, and is in his optimal shape.
Interviewer: Four fights- with the one left standing from the previous contract?
Vadim: No, this is a new contract for four fights, actually 3, but with an extension for an additional one. A lot of time was spent drafting this contract, a lot of problems were constantly coming up, a lot had to be redone. We say that Fedor will fight Sambo, we then receive documents saying "No, no he won't". We had to do it all over again, my jurists had to read it, the American ones too. Actually according to their rules I'm not allowed to disclose any information. I can't announce the signing of the contract, until the documents are signed. I understand that the fans are upset, but we aren't leisurely discussing Fedor's future in a restaurant or bar. We're working on it. I, for example, have known about the Fedor-Silva fight for a month and a half, but officially can't talk about it.
Interviewer: Will Feidor's training be modernized after his defeat by Werdum?
Vadim: Well, just recently we were visited by Peter Taissy (These names, man, it's like Cthulhu talk) from Holland, an extraordinary trainer of Tai (Tainese?) Boxing. Taissy achieved master class, and actually in Russia- there are no fighters at his level. He's one of the best trainers in the world, and Fedor called me later and told me he really liked it [training with him]. I know Fedu, he would never speak like that of a person who couldn't give him something new.
Interviewer: Is there any chance of seeing the Grand Prix fights on Network tv?
Vadim: During the start of the week, I'm going to be negotiating that with the management of the channel "Russia", but for now there are a lot of issues with this kind of showing. When I told the people of Showtime how much I was offered at one Russian telecompany for the translation of a previous Fedor fight, they laughed and couldn't believe that that such a price could be possible. They didn't want to give me the translation, I practically had to beg the Americans to take that step. They don't understand how you can buy a tournament with one of the best fighters in the world, for that price. And I don't think the Russian television studio understands who we can show them, instead of just another soap opera series.
So there we have the full thing. I still think it's pretty clear Vadim is at least partly using the doping issue to screw with Golden Glory and Overeem. He brings up Fedor being clean out of the blue once Overeem's name is brought up and restates his certainty that "someone" is still using. Add that to him only wanting testing in the Semi-Finals and it's fairly telling. Although I can't get a handle on his answer on Olympic style testing here, sounds like he wants it but isn't going to hold things up because of it which is good to hear.
I also thought he shot at the UFC was pretty funny, but he is right and ZUFFA isn't doing themselves any favors if they decide they do want to try to grab Fedor sometime later.
I really don't like Vadim saying they have a 4 fight contract and that they will "negotiate in those time frames". Let's hope that doesn't happen, but if history has taught us anything it probably will.