M-1 Global held a press conference in Moscow, Russia, ahead of M-1 Challenge 23 events and Fedor Emelianenko's February 12th bout against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva at the first stage of Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament. M-1 CEO Vadim Finkelstein, Fedor Emelianenko, as well as M-1 Welterweight Champion Shamil Zavurov and M-1 Eastern Europe Heavyweight Champion Maxim Grishin all took part at the press conference.
M-1 Challenge XXIII will take place on March 5th at the Crocus City Arena in Moscow, Russia. The event will be headlined by the M-1 Challenge Heavyweight Title fight between Guram Gugenishvili (12-0) and Maxim Grishin (7-4). As always, the event will be aired via a LIVE STREAM on LowKick.com.
Photos: Esther Lin, MixFight.ru
Here's some of the most interesting quotes from Fedor Emelianenko and Vadim Finkelstein
Drug Testing at Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament
Two out of eight fighters in the tournament previously failed a drug test. Obviously, I'm talking about Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva. We want fair competition for everyone, so that's why I will ask the commission to perform a strict drug testing. Fedor is not using any kind of substance to enhance his performance, and will be ready for any kind of testing. So if the commission decides to follow our suggestion, we'll be ready.
Our organization paid a heavy price after the cancellation of the fight between Josh Barnett and Fedor. We did a lot of promotion for this fight, which in the end did not take place. That's why as a promoter and manager, I don't want this to happen ever again.
Note: Vadim Finkelstein was asked about Olympic Drug Testing, but never used the term in his answer. In an interview to Sports.ru, Finkelstein says the main goal is to ensure a fair competition for Fedor, and not to push for some sort of specific testing.
Contract Negotiations with Strikeforce and Showtime
Ken Hershman and Showtime did a great job in bringing this tournament together. Our previous deal was only with Strikeforce, but now it's a triple deal between us, Strikeforce and Showtime. We had another deal coming up with Showtime, which is related to our M-1 Challenge shows in the US. We will be looking to promote 4 or 5 M-1 Challenge events on Showtime. The deal is not finalized yet, so it's still unofficial. However, I think that in something like two weeks we'll be ready to make an announcement.
Fedor's Renewed Contract
We have a new contract, which now includes M-1, Strikeforce and Showtime. The contract is for three fights and another as an option. So as for today, the Grand-Prix deal makes the most sense for us. In an interview to Sports.ru Finkelstein adds the following: Fedor has an exit clause in his contract if he gets into a losing streak.
Training for Bigfoot Silva
There's nothing new about my training. I really enjoyed my camp up in the mountains, in Kislovodsk. My sparring partners were Maxim Grishin and Kiril Sidelnikov, our young guys. We trained really hard, and I hope we'll see the results in my fight.
Fedor's coach Vladimir Voronin: It was a great training camp, especially in Kislovodsk. Fedor successfully injured everyone. Broke somone's ribs (Later in the press conference, Maxim Grishin thanked Fedor for broken ribs), busted someone's face, so the work was good. In terms of technique, our base is the Universal martial art Sambo. There's many techniques and still much to learn, so it's all an ongoing learning process.
On who he considers the biggest challenge in the Tournament
I don't think it's smart to talk about who's the biggest challenge in this tournament. Right now, my biggest challenge is Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, because he's my next opponent. I'm training hard for this fight and fully concentrated on my goal. If I beat Silva, I'll study my next opponent, but if I fail â€“ any talk about who's the biggest challenge will be simply irrelevant.
Fighting inside the Ring or Cage
There's no difference for me between fighting in ring or a cage. I just think that fighting inside the ring looks better from esthetical point of view. I don't know about other people, but that's my opinion.
MMA as an Olympic sport
To tell you the truth, I don't think MMA should be an Olympic sport. In my opinion, it could be an Olympic sport only on the amateur level. In MMA you have Olympic Champions in Wrestling, Judo and many other sports, that's why I don't think that making MMA in the Olympics is necessary to push the sport forward. I'm not interested participating in the Olympics. I think that I'm already past this stage of my career.
By Anton Gurevich