MONTE CARLO, Monaco(July 28, 2016)- World MMA Association (WMMAA) Vadim Finkelchtein has gone public to explain the recent WMMAA decision regarding Team Maldonado's appeal, which resulted in the change of the official Fedor Emelianenko-Fabio Maldonado fight result to a draw, in addition to terminating its Head of Judges, Radmir Gabdullin.
WMMAA president Vadim Finkelchtein
Vadim, talk us through the appeal process. Why did you accept it in the first place since Russian MMA Union rejected Maldonado manager's appeal?
VF: "Everyone could see what was going on in the media and MMA community after the bout. Being the founder of both the Russian MMA Union and World MMA Association, I received tons of messages and calls from people demanding an explanation about how it was possible for Russian MMA Union employees to officiate their own boss' fight. I read hundreds of negative comments disparaging the Russian MMA Union and WMMAA. Some even went so far to say it was about Russian Mafia doing business there, all Russian judges are bought, etc. I tried to stay away from this debacle, since the fight occurred in another promotion, but when Maldonado's manager sent an appeal to the WMMAA, asking to reassess the fight outcome, we couldn't say no. WMMAA's reputation was on the line as well as that of the Russian MMA scene, too."
What did the process of choosing the reassessment commission look like and why was head judge Radmir Gabdullin suspended?
VF: "Basically, I had to make Radmir, as the WMMAA's head judge, responsible for the whole process. However, since he was one of the reasons the appeal surfaced in the first place, the most logical decision was to suspend him temporarily and appoint WMMAA's Secretary General (Alexander Engelhardt) to handle it."
In his recent interview, Radmir Gabdullin belittled the significance of WMMAA's verdict, stating it was all unofficial and that he had never received any appeal.
VF: "There's nothing to comment about here. It's a pure lie. I don't understand what he was trying to accomplish by saying something like this. If necessary, I can show the manager's e-mail with Russian MMA Union employees, Kamil Gadzhiev and WMMAA employees as recipients. Saying he's never received an appeal is absurd and a silly excuse."
At the same time he insulted the professionals that reassessed the fight by calling them incompetent.
VF: "When I read it my first reaction was vast disappointment. How could he, as the official head judge, state something like this towards his colleagues who he knows really well? He used to officiate multiple events with them. Their experience is ten or maybe even hundred times greater than Radmir's. Marco Broersen has been officiating major European events, including KSW, M-1 Global and many others, for 15 years. He'd been working in this field when Radmir was still in school. It's a shame for him to say something like that. It's degrading for both Radmir and the Russian MMA Union."
Can you explain why 24-year-old Radmir had been chosen to become the head judge in both WMMAA and Russian MMA Union having no experience or appropriate education whatsoever?
VF: "You know, it all started back in 2010-2011, when I decided to start developing amateur MMA in order to provide thousands of young athletes with career opportunities. For that to happen the MMA Union in Russia was necessary, as well as official recognition of Mixed Martial Arts as a sport. It was hard. I had no experience working in a Federation; plenty of paper work. We lacked a qualified staff when we started to look for people. I offered Fedor Emelianenko to be the Union president with me heading the WMMAA. Gabdullin's name was mentioned by Fedor. He said there was this young and promising guy, let's see what he can do. I agreed completely, although I realized he had neither experience nor knowledge."
What was your reaction to Kamil Gadzhiev's comments claiming in each interview that a draw was the best outcome, but after the result was changed by Sherdog following the WMMAA's verdict, he changed his mind and promised to call and mail Sherdog to protest its action?
VF: "I had a phone chat with Kamil. He made it clear that he trusts the WMMAA and Russian MMA Union, while repeating his personal opinion that the draw would be the most righteous decision. I don't know why his words were not consequently supported by his deeds."
Russian MMA Union has a lot of officials. Yet, no one would comment on the situation, including Fedor himself. Why is that?
VF: "I can't answer this question. Most important for me is justice and reputation and that holds for Russian MMA and WMMAA, too. I couldn't choose sides, which is the reason why an international commission of judges was created. No one tried to take the other man's victory, as some have claimed in comments. As the WMMAA president, I feel ashamed the situation went that far. The vast majority of the leading MMA sites supported the WMMAA's verdict; Sherdog changed the outcome. Another example is the Match TV poll result, in which 56-percent of Russian voters said Fedor didn't win the fight. 'Big' John McCarthy said it. Sergey Kharitonov, Alexey Oleinik and many others have said the same. People who have been cheering for Fedor for years realized that. And now we have one person stating the opposite, saying our decision is unofficial, that experienced judges have become incompetent in no time, and he'd never received an appeal. That's a sad situation and we need to handle it appropriately. The world awaits sound and reasoned decisions but gets excuses and lies instead. Our reputation is on the line because of that."
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