M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelchtein has announced five M-1 Challenge events to be held this May and June.
Below is a Q & A with the veteran MMA promoter:
Can you tell us about plans for upcoming M-1 Global events?
VF: “In the next 2-3 months we will promote an extremely full schedule of events. Through the middle of June, we will promote five – I’m not afraid to use these words – grandiose tournaments. April 22nd there’s an event being held in Nazran, which was arranged with the support of the local government, and dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Ingushetia. On May 19th, in collaboration with Rostec and Rosoboronexport corporations, we will hold a truly spectacular event in Sochi. Our traditional tournament in Orenburg is set for May 26th, which regularly takes place at the highest level with a crowded venue. On June 1st, we will hold another event in St. Petersburg as part of the International Economic Forum program. And already on June 15 – A major tournament will be held June 15th in Harbin, China, during the program of the Russian-Chinese Expo. Both in St. Petersburg and China, we are included in the official program, so we will be participating in truly large-scale events.”
Fans are interested in fighters whose performances will decorate these tournaments. Can you reveal some of the competing fighters?
VF: “We will really surprise the audience at these events. A lot of negotiations are ongoing, including those with fighters who are the TopP-20 ranked fighters in the world. There will also be fights involving new fighters. Of course, we intend to make fights that fans have been waiting for a long time. One is the is the Idrisov vs. Buchinger rematch and, of course, probably the most anticipated fight in Russian MMA today, Shlemenko vs Emeev.”
The fight between Alexander Shlemenko and Ramazan Emeev had already been postponed twice. What prevents this fight from being canceled for the third time?
VF: “The desire of the two fighters can play the major role here. Everything has been done on our side. Alexander Shlemenko is ready for this fight. We’re waiting word back from Ramazan Emeev. This fight is interesting for fans and we will try to make it happen. People are starting to understand more and more about MMA and we are making fights that our fans want to happen. Not only does this apply to Shlemenko and Emeev. but for other popular fighters as well, including undefeated M-1 welterweight champion Alexey Kunchenko, top lightweight Artiom Damkovsky, Damir Ismagulov, Sergey Romanov and many others. We try to sign contracts with only fighters who want to be in spectacular fights. Look at the last events in Moscow. Were any of the 11 fights boring? No! Even in undercard matches we have fighters who deliver exciting fights and often early finishes. This is the hallmark of our promotion. We do not hold uninteresting events or boring fights.”
Today, many promotions sign fighters who were fired from UFC. Why are you not doing this?
VF: “Certainly in that way. If fighters are interesting to the Russian public and well known, we will sign him. Otherwise, I believe that it is wrong to sign, so to speak, cast-off fighters. This will not add credibility and strengthen our organization in the MMA world. We do that a different way. We build stars that UFC chases. It may be more difficult but M-1 is more respected by the West for doing it this way. Look, those fighters who leave M-1 for the UFC leave because they’ve been developed through serious schooling, as we do not feed them “tomato cans” opponents. We do not make easy fights for anybody. Marcin Tybura, Rashid Magomedov, Mairbek Taisumov, Alexey Oleinik, Islam Makhachev, Alexander Volkov, etc. All of them are our former fighters. They were not known at the beginning of their careers but now they are all doing excellent. Fighters of the other promoters who moved in UFC are often fired after a while because, here in Russia, they did not face tough opposition.”
How do you fight the departure of your fighters to the West?
VF: “Here, I disagree with you. It used to be that way. Now, to the contrary, many fighters want to perform in M-1 because it is no less prestigious than performing for Bellator, where the emphasis is on the show. Example of this are Alexander Shlemenko, Sergei Kharitonov, and others. These warriors gladly come to us and agree to fight here because the opposition in M-1 is not weak. Of course, regarding the departure of the fighters to the West, money plays a great role. But there are fighters who are grateful to M-1 for fame they gained. We paved the road to a greatness for them and, consequently, they do not rush to leave M-1 anywhere.”