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среда, 14 апреля 2010 г.

Vadim Finkelstein and MMA

There are many controversial personalities in the young sport of MMA that is only starting to evolve and is growing in many countries from USA to Japan and as far away from Brazil as Russia. Dana White and the UFC have secured their dominance in the US market and are now expanding abroad while the old Pride remains have risen to form the organization that is now known as Dream FC that features some of the old greats like Sakuraba and Yoshida as well as the new breed of fighters like Gegard Mousasi and Shinya Aoki.

Fedor Emelianenko is a phenomenon that appeared in the late Rings promotion fights and then exploded on to the Pride arena defeating the likes of Nogueira and Mirko Cro Cop among others in a colourful career that lasted between 2000-2005. Those were the years when Vadim Finkelstein took over the management of Fedor and the troubles really began to emerge.

Late into this part of Fedor's career it became clear that the talent of the Pride Heavyweight Champion is phenomenal but also that the team around hin are careful in selecting fights, often choosing to mix it with some weaker, one-dimensional and clearly underdog opponents. October 2005 marked the end of this part of the career and started to be a stage for Fedor's domination of underdog fighters who had no business fighting the best fighter in the world at the time. After the victory over Mirko that year, Fedor fought Zuluzhinho and later defeated Mark Coleman for the second time.

Pride was clearly in its final months of existance and it is understandable that a weaker opponent can sometimes be chosen to please the fans that may demand a show such as Zuluzhinho. There was no such popular support however for Zulu or Mark and therefore there was no logic to this fight.

If you take March 2006 Heavyweight Rankings, under Mirko and Nogueira there was Andrei Arlovski, Kharitonov, Aleks Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum, all of which were great fighters that Fedor could have met. Instead he chose to fight Zuluzhinho and Mark Coleman.

In February 2007, the top ranked were again Fedor, Cro Cop and Nogueira but under them the positions changed. Josh Barnett, Tim Sylvia, Brandon Vera and Arlovski featured as the next best. Who did Fedor fight? He fought Mark Hunt and Matt Lindland. At the time MMA Ranks.com rated Hunt as #1 fighter in the Super Heavyweight Division that does not exist. Moreover Hunt did not achieve anything special to justify such a position in the rankings. Matt Lindland was a middleweight ranked number eight in the world. Hardly someone who should have been fighting against apparently the greatest heavyweight in the world.

The contrast is all the more visible when you look at the guys that Mirko Cro Cop fought during these two years. Firstly he defeated the highly rated Josh Barnett who featured #3 in the world in 2007 and thereafter signed with the UFC to face Eddie Sanchez and Gabriel Gonzaga.

Fedor's opponents the following years were no more impressive perhaps except Arlovski who still featured as a top fighter in the rankings. The win over Rogers, although impressive, was not a top-10 win, not nearly.

Vadim Finkelstein in this played a decisive role. His demands for co-promotion with Bodog left him unsatisfied and when Affliction came along, he took this as his moment to convert Fedor's image into cash flow for M1, which is what he did, but the scheme would not last.

The economics of co-promotion with M1 simply does not make any sense and while Fedor can be marketed to the US audiences with moderate success in Strikeforce, gap in the quality of opponents raises serious questions whether Fedor legitimately can be considered the number one heavyweight in the world not to mention pound best.

If Fedor and Vadim Finkelstein really want to fight, and make fights that the fans want to see, then they need to sign with the UFC. The best fighters are there and people don't want to see Werdum or Rogers fight Fedor. They want to see Lesnar vs Fedor badly. Thats what Vadim needs to give to the fans. Here is a link to the poll on who Fedor should fight next.

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