Ruslan Suleymanov for Planeta Octogono

If you can, tell us about the start of LEGEND event... Why you made a decision to do this start with LEGEND?

This story is like a work of fiction to me. The LEGEND started with the Combat Sports Club No 1. Long before its inauguration in October 2012 at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow I began to ponder on who might be the event's MC. We had several candidates, and then Timur Solovyev was recommended to me - as a TV presenter at several Russian TV channels and as a boxing fan. I made an offer to him - and he did act as the MC at the inauguration, and did it perfectly well! So I invited Timur to a dinner in honor of the celebrities attending the inauguration. Timur was a little late and came in when all the stars were already seated at the table: Gago Drago, Mike Passenier, Melvin Manhoef, Murat Direkci, Artur Kyshenko, Sahak Parparyan, and Ramazan Ramazanov. And the first thing he asked was: "Ruslan, have you ever thought about organizing a fight show?" He knew how ample were the resources I had at my disposal, all my friendly ties with the fighters. I thought little of it at the time. But a month later I suddenly remembered this phrase - and that's how the LEGEND was born.
Apart from Timur and me, the "movers and shakers" are Alexey Mikhaylin, our creative designer, and Vladimir Voytekhovsky, the tournament matchmaker.

LEGEND have doing an amazing events in Russia and Italy. With a big organization, logistics and a big production. How do you think Legend can be doing in the future?

All of the upcoming editions will be staged at the same high level. We want to stage our tournaments in the largest kickboxing centers of the world, with the priority to Europe and Asia, mainly Europe.

The event have so many famous fighters like a Badr Hari, Mirko Crocop, Melvin Manhoef, Andy Souwer, Paul Daley. The fans can see much famous fighters at the next events in future?

Certainly, although the next editions will not be as "loaded" as the first two. Having stars fighting at a tournament is common practice, but in the future we plan to balance the tournaments.

You made a strong decision to cancelled the Alexander Emelianenko´s fight at the second edition and give a big opportunity to Alexey Oleinik. What is your feeling about the decision have done?

What we felt when we had to eliminate him from the tournament? Profound disappointment, particularly because the rematch of the decade was cancelled. That fight was something the whole of Russia and the whole of the MMA world had been looking forward to. Disappointment with the fighter, too.

On the other hand, disappointment aside, our decision was firm, and we never regretted it. And - whatever happens happens for the best. That's how it was for us, too. The outcome of the fight was unexpected. We discovered a new star, Alexey Oleynikov, who received an offer from UFC right after the fight. That was a happy day for everyone. Except Mirko, of course.

Brazil have so many talents in MMA and Kickboxing too. How do you think about the brazilian fighters and they can be had a chance to fight in LEGEND in the future?

Brazilian fighters are indeed among the most talented fighters in the world. And the LEGEND is open for everyone. We have no restrictions in terms of nationality or color. We are not a regional Russian promotion; we have always held ourselves as a global promotion. We have always given the green light to everyone, while scouting for talented fighters in Russia, as well. Fabricio Werdum and Renato "Babalu"Sobral have held a workshop in our Combat Sports Club No 1 in Moscow and we will certainly invite Brazilian fighters to our next editions.

How do you think about Brazil? Do you have a interest to visit our country?

I have never been to Brazil, although it has been my dream to visit it for a number of years now. I planned to attend the FIFA World Cup, but was not able to. They say it's dangerous there (laughs). No doubt, when you hear about the dangers awaiting tourists, it's sad. When even a fighter like Shogun is robbed - him being one of the strong fighters in the world. Well, I'd probably come if accompanied by Werdum and Babalu.

You made a couple MMA fights at Legend. Do you want to keep doing more MMA fights or the main focus are a kickboxing matches?

For the present we are viewing ourselves as a joint promotion: we will organize both K-1 and MMA fights. Some tournaments may see more kickboxing while MMA will feature in others. It will all depend on the location which always determines the format. And we will go ahead with the joint concept.

We have a much rumors at internet about UFC coming to Russia. And you come to a two UFC shows in USA, to support a Russian fighters and give a gift to UFC President, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta. Do you have a business relationship with UFC?

We met Dana twice, with Natalya Bulanova, PR Director of both the LEGEND and Combat Sports Club No 1, joining us during the last meeting. Both meetings were purely friendly, no business discussed. If UFC decides to have us as partners for their show in Russia, that will make us happy. And we will do our best to assist. Above all else, this could be a significant event in the Russian martial arts industry. More and more sportsmen are fighting in the U.S. And if UFC comes here, that will automatically help the majority of our, Russian, fighters to take part - those who have already signed up with UFC. This will be a grandiose event for the whole world. That is why if we are going to be involved in it, this will also be a great contribution to the development of sport in this country.

And If UFC wants your help, do you can help the event to made a event in Russia?

We will examine the request closely and will try to render assistance to this reputable organization. We will discuss all the details: what specifically would they want us to do? Is it within our power? And we will match it against our own tournament plans and schedule.

How is the situation of Badr Hari and Mirko Crocop now? We can see the both legends in LEGEND events on future?

I can only say that we would like these two great athletes to perform at the LEGEND - time after time. Where and when is still a big question, however, both Badr and Mirko are willing to move forward with us. A lot will depend on our plans which are being developed right now, and on their capabilities. The general intent is in place.

You support the Russian Fighters in UFC like a Ali Bagautinov and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Do you think they can be a UFC champion in the future?

As any Russian fan I do support both of them, indeed. I know them personally. They are nice men. Khabib Nurmagomedov had a workshop at our Club No 1. I like him very much. I would wish good luck to any and all of the Russian athletes, but these two are special for me: both have achieved top results in UFC. Both are within close range of their title fights. And I believe they are able to become champions.

How is the situation of combat sports in Russia now in your vision?

Combat sports are developing, although rather slowly. The rate of development is not what one would expect. The MMA Union chaired by Fedor Emelianenko has been quite active. Fedor and his assistant, Radmir Gabdullin, chairman of the Referee Panel are doing a lot to promote MMA. All across the country competitions are held, clubs are set up, the Union departments have been opened in over 50 regions of the country. Referees are undergoing the accreditation process. On the other hand, fight clubs and companies are also making their contribution. However, the market is not growing, just as there is no marked increase in the media and number of promotions. The development process is sluggish. The MMA Union is the driving force, with its daily work aimed at the promotion of martial arts.

If you can, send a message to our readers of website and MMA/Kickboxing fans...

This is what I would like to say on behalf of the LEGEND and Combat Sports Club No 1: This is my first interview to Brazilian media, and it's an honor and a privilege to be interviewed by such a reputable publication. I keep repeating that our Russian athletes are one of the most courageous and outstanding in the world, on a par with the great Brazilian athletes. You, Brazilians, have a lot to be proud of. Respect your heroes and practice sports!

Source: gazetaesportiva (Bruno Massami)