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Vadim Finkelchtein: It would be a pleasure for me if the UFC ran their events in Russia

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In part one of his exclusive interview with BloodyElbow.com, M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchtein discusses his upcoming plans for the promotion and whether the UFC would be successful in Russia.

Esther Lin

In the 17 years that M-1 Global has existed, the promotion has established itself as an international brand with various offices around the world, and completed over 150 events in total.

However, the promotion is yet to break into the Chinese market, which has been a notoriously difficult market to penetrate due to the regulations placed by the Chiese authorities. While M-1 had originally announced an event in mainland China, they recently had to push the event back to a later date when the card lost one its headlining fighters, Satoshi Ishii.

While he is certain that the Chinese market would be a lucrative one once penetrated, M-1 President Vadim Finkelchtein has no problem admitting it is a difficult market to get established in.

"China is a difficult market," Finkelchtein told BloodyElbow.com. "MMA is there in the phase of progress. There is a small bunch of people, who have interest in mixed martial arts. MMA is in the phase of beginning there. Their market is enclosed; there is no world social network at all. No YouTube, no Facebook. Market is big in perspective, but it needs to develop. It will last for a while.  We signed a broadcasting contract with the biggest sports TV - channel CCTV5. It has an audience of over a billion people. "

"At the moment, we plan to run at least one event in China once a year. This year, we are going to introduce a good card: there will be fighters, like Sergey Kharitonov, Satoshi Ishii, Marchin Tibura, Denis Smoldarev."

While China is a significant portion of the overall expansion plan, Vadim delved into the various other countries and regions that M-1 planned to experiment in.

"Firstly, there will be events in China," Vadim explained. "In the next year we are going to run 12 events, including in Kazakhstan, China and Czech Republic. Obviously, it will be in Russia - Ingushetia, Orenburg, St. Petersburg, Moscow."

While M-1 appears to have an elaborate blueprint laid out for their plans in the European market, they have no attempted to hold an event in the United States since the M-1 Challenge 30 - Zavurov vs. Enomoto fight card back in December 2011.

In total, the promotion held nine events in the U.S. - mostly in California. However, Vadim was adamant that M-1's intention was never to expand into the American market.

"I didn't conquer the American market at all," said Vadim. "I was just making fights. At that time, we were working with Showtime, and they offered to run events. When their main editor was changed, we stopped working with them.  Right now, we are concentrating on the European and Russian markets. It's difficult to travel around the world, so we are trying to run more events instead of cover big areas in the world."

In previous interviews back in 2013, UFC President Dana White appeared confident that his promotion would hold their first event in Russia over the coming year. Recently, it was revealed that, due to the political turmoil between the Ukraine and Crimea, the promotion would delay their first trip to that particular market.

Although not on speaking terms with White, Finkelchtein expressed excitement over the proposition of having MMA's top promotion hold events in his home country. While he revealed that the market is not a convenient one for the UFC, it would only serve as a boost for MMA in the region.

"There are good chances. They would come and lost not much money. It will be a pleasure to me, if they run their events in Russia. The more MMA-events in our country, the better. But I don't think that they need Russian market. Because of differences in time zones broadcasting would be uncomfortable. Besides, large costs and not big earnings from selling tickets."

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Special thanks to MMABoxing.ru.