M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchstein is clearing the air concerning comments he allegedly made about Alistair Overeem and performance-enhancing drugs after the Strikeforce heavyweight championâ€™s longtime trainer, Bas Boon, recently posted an unflattering account of the Russian promoter and manager on a Netherlands-based MMA Web site forum.
Boonâ€™s post describes Finkelchstein and other M-1 executives as â€śscam artistsâ€ť connected to organized crime, questions their managerial ability and gives an unverified account of M-1â€™s Apy Echteld threatening a Seattle co-promoterâ€™s life.
Boon, a longtime combat sports figure in Holland and head of the Golden Glory fight team of which Overeem hails from, claimed authorship for the post when contacted by Sherdog.com on Tuesday.
â€śEverything I wrote is true,â€ť Boon told Sherdog.com via e-mail.
Finkelchstein categorized all of Boonâ€™s claims as false and likened them to tall tales.
â€śThis seems like the plot of a particularly hokey childrenâ€™s detective novel. â€¦ Someone taking part in hiring a killer in Russia is something youâ€™d perhaps find in a Nancy Drew novel,â€ť said Finkelchstein through the translation of Evgeni Kogan, M-1 Globalâ€™s director of operations. â€śIt seems like the behavior of small children who have some kind of an argument and start threatening each other with all nightmarish things.â€ť
Finkelchtein added that the â€śhitmanâ€ť accusations first surfaced seven years ago and that no action, legal or otherwise, had ever been taken regarding it.
Finkelchstein told Sherdog.com on Tuesday that Boonâ€™s campaign against him and his company has been ongoing for years. Finkelchstein said that Boonâ€™s motivation has been recently fueled by his interest in securing a fight for Overeem with Fedor Emelianenko, whom M-1 manages.
â€śI was very surprised by those comments and the only explanation that I have is that itâ€™s now spring, and it is not clear how spring sometimes affects insane people,â€ť said Finkelchstein, â€śbut this obviously has somehow affected Bas in a way to push him to, essentially out of nowhere, decide that he needs to preoccupy himself (this way).â€ť
Finkelchstein, who has promoted numerous events worldwide under the M-1 banner, said he was most concerned about Boonâ€™s statements that the Russian businessman and his organization had a connection with organized crime.
â€śThat particular accusation concerned me, more than perhaps some of the others, specifically because itâ€™s so blatantly untrue,â€ť said Finkelchstein, who said heâ€™d started working full-time at the age of 14 in Russia. â€śAll of the money which I have earned, Iâ€™ve earned through work.â€ť
Finkelchstein pointed to the attendance of former Russian President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at one of his previous M-1 events, as well as members of the Russian government at a recent â€śSelectionâ€ť event in Moscow.
â€śMy continuing good relationship with the Russian government is tribute to the fact Iâ€™m a respected businessman and have absolutely no ties with crime, whatsoever,â€ť he said.
Still, Finkelchstein was apologetic for comments heâ€™d reportedly made about Overeem, some of which allegedly labeled the fighter a â€śsteroid bullyâ€ť and claimed that Emelianenko would not fight the Dutch fighter without appropriate pre-fight testing for performance-enhancing drugs. Without addressing any alleged comment specifically, Finkelchstein told Sherdog.com that he had made certain remarks about the fighter off the record that were not meant for print.
â€śAbout three or four months ago, I spoke to a journalist who I had a friendship with, whoâ€™d call me every day and continuously called me to ask about Fedor fighting Overeem,â€ť said Finkelchstein. â€śWhen the conversation happened, it was off the record. I asked why if Overeem was such a great fighter, why didnâ€™t he fight in the states? He hadnâ€™t fought in the states in two years.â€ť
Finkelchstein said he was regretful that the comments had been published without his knowledge or permission.
â€śI would expressly like to apologize to Alistair for the fact that those comments came out,â€ť said Finkelchstein. â€śIf I knew I was on the record in the public view, I would have never have said anything negative about a fighter. I have no ill will towards Alistair and I know him personally. This was something totally blown out of proportion by the journalist.â€ť
Contrary to recent online reports, Finkelchstein also said that both Emelianenko and his team would not turn down a fight with Overeem if the bout were held in a jurisdiction, stateside or international, where performance-enhancing drug testing is not practiced.
â€śTesting for performance-enhancing drugs is, as far as Iâ€™m concerned, the responsibility of whatever athletic commission in whatever state the fight is going to happen in,â€ť said Finkelchstein. â€śI donâ€™t think thatâ€™s my business at all. I will be perfectly happy with whatever the commission does in regards to that.â€ť
Finkelchstein said M-1 Global would pay close attention to Overeemâ€™s first title defense against Brett Rogers at Strikeforce â€śHeavy Artilleryâ€ť on May 15 in St. Louis. Mo.
â€śBoth myself and Fedor are completely neutral when it comes to a fight with Alistair,â€ť he said. â€śWe see him just as we see any other opponent. In terms of practicability, the whole camp is eagerly awaiting the fight between Alistair Overeem and Brett Rogers. Based on the outcome on that, the heavyweight division in Strikeforce will become a lot more clearer and future opponents for Fedor will surface.â€ť