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Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Jeff was originally scheduled to face Magomed Malikov on April 9 in the M-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix quarterfinals, but a pectoral muscle tear forced Jeff to undergo surgery and postpone that fight. He is recovering from this injury, and this fight is now scheduled to take place June 7 on the M-1 card in the Republic of Ingushetia, Russia.
We spoke with Jeff by phone Monday night about this fight, his career, why he is a self-described anarchist, and how he views the sport and business of MMA.
Our discussion took place right before May 1, or May Day, also marked around the world as International Workers' Day.
Asked what his May Day message would be to MMA fighters, Jeff replied, "My message would be solidarity. My message is, 'Be together.' We're all in this whether, like I said, whether you're trying to be a professional fighter or whether you're well-established or at the top of your game. It's the same sport. We're all in it together."
He also quoted the old saying associated with the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), "'An injury to one is an injury to all.' And it really is."
We discussed numerous topics, including how this fight with Malikov may be "a classic grappler vs. striker match," why he likes M-1's new six-sided ring, how he has become a celebrity in Russia, his fascination with the country and people of Russia, the reaction to his politics, and the need for a fighters' union.
He also pointed out the "shameful" conditions facing MMA fighters, including no such union, no pension, no health insurance, no job security, no retirement, and often low pay, which is even less than boxers get, while they are still fighting. While the formation of a fighters' union is far from imminent, he stated, "It's going to happen," adding that more education of the fighters is needed and that he hopes to take an active role in this struggle.
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