The top Russian heavyweight Vitaly Minakov in an exclusive interview to Sportbox's Yaroslav Stepanov told about his preparation for the upcoming battle against Dee Jay Linderman on Fight Nights Global 59 tournament and revealed details of the negotiations with Bellator for a new contract.
? Thoroughly examined the opponent? What strengths can highlight in him?
- The tournament will be held in the auspicious day. This places additional responsibility. As for the opponent, I know that the bulk of his career was spent in the welterweight division. Now, however, he got up and scored in the heavier division. I watched his fights and I can identify strengths such as: strength of will, character, aggressive style of fighting. Linderman is always going forward, although is not fluent in any technique. He is dangerous, constantly presses and is not afraid. Such boys have a higher chance to knock or be knocked. Of course, I always prepare to any serious rival. This is MMA and anything can happen. Anyone can win, anyone can lose.
? Based on the characteristics of the opponent, you made a rough plan for the fight?
- I can assume anything. The fight can develop unpredictably. For example, when I had a bout on December 11 last year, with Copland, too, I hoped that he would go ahead and try to get the powerful single "shots". He often retreated back, and I'm in the process of training camp prepared to counter. There were other scenarios. If Linderman will not go ahead, we will act according to the situation.
? Your preparation for each specific opponent is different?
- Of course, preparation for each individual. If a person is struggling, I put much emphasis on striking technique. If the opponent is the striker, the attention is paid mainly to wrestling items. It should be approached purely individually.
? What is the situation with the contract with Bellator?
- The contract was and still is. The question is, what kind of contract? The agreement, which was originally, now does not suit me as an athlete, which is not even disputed by the promotion management. We have outgrown this contract. There were talks, then they were at an impasse, and then I spoke with Scott Coker, and we understood each other. Next, there was an unpleasant incident. They launched a "hogwash" in the media about my arrangements with the UFC. Allegedly, a fight in December, and so on. I once got a call early in the morning to clarify the details, and I only found out about it. Now we are trying to discuss with the leadership on a decrease in the number of fights, so as to as soon as possible fulfill the terms of the contract with Bellator. Scott Coker himself expressed a desire to resume negotiations. Hopefully soon we come to something, so I would be able to return to the organization, since I have the desire to eat.
? What is the disadvantage of the original contract with Bellator?
- There is some history of bondage. It was necessary to approach more seriously to study the contract. At a time when the signature was set, we were ready to agree to everything. Again, we are very aware that we have already outgrown the contract. In what sense? In terms of economy. Even in title fights that I conducted, the loser got more money than I do. Total fee, which I was provided for a win, was only enough for training camp. Already we discussed a contract that suits both parties. Only thing left is to polish on some details. I hope this year I already make a statement in one of the Bellator tournaments.
? The Russian fans have a great desire to see you in the UFC. Is there such a desire from you?
- There is a desire to progress and move forward. Even the money - not the most important. Money motivated me until then, until I have solved all social and domestic issues. When there is a goal, everything changes for the better. UFC - an organization in which it would be interesting to speak. The desire is there, but entertain some illusions and hopes I do not want. If the opportunity arises, I will not miss it.
? What do you associate bad Sergei Kharitonov debut in Bellator with?
- Winning is made up of many factors. He could be well prepared physically, but lost the concentration. It's hard to comment on anything concerning other guys. I think he has enough strength to come back and show a good result.
? How you reacted to the cancellation of the fight Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione? Whether this situation is acceptable in such a big promotion? Or are there still the factors in play on which the organization can not influence?
- First of all, this situation has caused some disappointment among the fans who've been waiting for this fight. There is nothing big there, very often such cases are, just about them is not too much to say, because the level is different. Health - unpredictable thing. Apparently, the hard training has affected the state of Mitrione. Kidney stones - a dramatic disease, progressive over time. In any case, nothing terrible has happened.
? Is there a chance of a fight between you and Fedor in Bellator?
- The question is, what are the conditions of the contract signed by Fedor. I doubt he will act as part of the selection to win the belt. I think in this case he has to be in a format similar to Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz. Superboys that gather large audiences. If such a situation occurs suddenly, I do not want to. I more admit even fight with Sergei Kharitonov, but with him there is no desire to fight for the amusement of an American audience. Already I had a similar experience with Sasha Volkov. It so happens that we have no dialogue after the fight, unfortunately, no. I see a certain tension in Alexander, but I do not know why. There is life, and there is sports. It makes no sense to interfere them together.
? Is it possible, in your opinion, to bring the Russian industry to the US level of MMA?
- There is no problem to achieve the picture, which is currently in the UFC and Bellator. But is it advisable? In the US, a huge audience is ready to pay big money to watch the show fights. There they are used to it. The market is seriously developed. But we need to proceed gradually. If we make an expensive show, the demand will be no more. We have to work with the fans, with the audience.