Everyone may be quick to blame Fedor Emelianenko‘s manager Vadim Finkelchtein for the “Last Emperor” returning to mixed martial arts competition, but once again avoiding the UFC. There is just one problem with that, however, Finkelchtein, if he is to be believed, is no longer Fedor’s manager.
In fact, Fedor sidestepping the UFC in favor a working with former Pride FC boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara and his new Rizin Fighting Federation promotion in Japan was solely the former heavyweight kingpin’s decision.
“Fedor makes all the decisions by himself now. In our past, all troubles and accusations used to fall on me. They said that I was the reason that Fedor didn’t fight in UFC,” Finkelchtein told M1Global.tv. “But now I say officially: I don’t have any relations to this one. Nothing.”
Finkelchtein, who operates the M-1 Global promotion, says that he was approached about a year ago by Sakakibara to see if he would be interested in partnering with the latter’s Japanese revival, but had trouble envisioning how the whole operation would unfold, and he still does.
Sakakibara is currently partnering with the likes of Bellator, KSW, King of Kings, Bushido, BAMMA, and Jungle Fight, and there are plans to air his three-day year-end event on Spike TV in the United States.
Finkelchtein, however, isn’t sold on how this partnership is going to be spread equitably amongst all parties.
“I don’t think this is a serious initiative,” he said. “Who will own all of this? My professional opinion: all they do now is some kind of shady enterprise. But I don’t have enough info, so let’s see where will they come in the end.”
Currently, Rizin’s drawing card is Fedor, who has been rumored to be matched against kickboxer Jaideep Singh, who is 1-0 in MMA. Finkelchtein doesn’t believe that Singh would be a proper match-up for Fedor, but he also doesn’t believe that Rizin can rest on Fedor’s comeback alone, if it is to succeed.
“That’s clear, they have (a draw in) Fedor, but you can’t ride on his back forever. You don’t play cards with the Ace only, right? They need to entice more fighters, and pay huge money. Where do the Japanese get top fighters? I don’t know. Maybe some of them will be provided by Bellator or KSW. Still, I don’t know any fighter of top-level in KSW, except Mamed Khalidov.”