Vadim Finkelstein, former manager of legendary Russian MMA fighter Fedor Emelianenko, has shared his memories of working with American President Donald Trump back in the 2000s, as well as his thoughts on the upcoming Bellator fight of ‘The Last Emperor’.
Finkelstein, 51, is the president of the oldest active MMA promotion in Russia, M-1 Global, and a significant figure in the story of Mixed Martial Arts in his home country. But he is mostly known to global audience as the manager of iconic Russian fighter Fedor Emelianenko, whom he was representing in the period from 2003 to 2012.
The events were organized by Affliction Entertainment in association with M-1. At that time the major shareholder of Affliction was Donald Trump – the future 45th president of the United States.
Finkelstein says he has fond memories of working with Trump.
“I remember him as a decent man, and a confident businessman,” Finkelstein told RT Sport.
Vadim Finkelstein: He’s said some nice words about working with us as well. We have it on the video on our YouTube channel (laughs). He also said that MMA is the fastest-developing kind of sport, and that it has a great future. But to be honest I am not too fluent in English, so I can’t say that we were close. But only positive emotions. He was always cheering for Fedor (laughing). I know that for a fact. He was really happy when Fedor beat Arlovski. Despite the fact that Arlovski was technically representing America in this fight, as he speaks good English already had a solid fanbase in the States. But Trump was definitely in Fedor’s corner. I saw his reaction after the knockout. He was visibly pumped. He rushed to the ring to congratulate Fedor.
I don’t know what kind of President Trump will be though. But I hope for a better relationship between the countries (Russia and the US). Both countries can achieve more conducting a peaceful business, rather than having this cold war, which everybody is tired of. We want Americans not to worry about coming here (to Russia). And vice versa, we don’t want to worry about going to the States.
The media are making monsters out of us (Russians). But when people come here they change their minds. Russian people are hospitable.
RT: Fedor, your former protégé, is having a fight in Bellator next weekend. What was your reaction when you first heard the news?
VF: I was really surprised. Because he sounded really serious back in 2012 when he said he was retiring. I even tried to convince him to take a fight or two. But he confidently said that he’d retired. So that was a big surprise. It’s going to be a hard fight. Serious opponent. A very good bout in my opinion. Also a very good move for Bellator.
RT: Why do you think he decided to come back?
VF: I think he misses the fighting. He is a natural-born fighter. And he wants to get back to the thing he likes so much. At some point he probably got tired of it. Because it’s a hard job. Takes a lot blood and sweat. But after he had a good rest he came back. I think he just can’t live without it. But that’s my opinion.
RT: When you were still his manager, did Bellator or UFC try to sign Fedor?
VF: Of course. We were always one step away from signing with UFC. But it didn’t work out. Now they have a new team. So I don’t really know anyone from there anymore. But I don’t represent Fedor anymore. So it’s up to him now where to perform.
Emelianenko is scheduled to fight American Matt Mitrione in the main event of Bellator 172 on February 18 in San Jose, California. Mitrione, 38, has a professional MMA record of 11 wins and 5 losses, while Fedor, 40, stands at an impressive 36-4.
Emelianenko went undefeated for 10 years in the period from 2000 until 2010, recording 26 straight wins. His impressive performances and remarkable technique have gained him worldwide recognition as one of the best MMA fighters of all time, and the nickname ‘The Last Emperor’.