Igor Zinoviev isn't as well known to modern Mixed Martial Arts fans due to his career ending in 1998, long before the sport broke through to the mainstream. However, he has a different reason for being known by the general populace. Following his loss to Frank Shamrock at UFC 16, Zinoviev spent some time working for Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted sex trafficker who recently died in prison.
While the medical examiner ruled the cause of death as suicide, there are multiple rumors swirling about other factors playing a role in his death. As someone who spent time as Epstein's bodyguard, trainer, and driver, Zinoviev was asked about his previous employer during a phone interview with New York Magazine. The former UFC fighter had originally conducted an interview with M.L. Nestel back in 2015, and the writer went back to him to clarify some previous comments. What followed was an interaction that painted Zinoviev as a very nervous figure.
For example, there was one interaction in which Nestel asked Zinoviev about his previous comments concerning potential police corruption and Epstein being warned every time law enforcement options were on the way to his house. When asked about the previous comments, the fighter-turned-bodyguard was unwillingly to divulge specific details and kept mentioning getting in trouble.
I get that. But you and I have a history at this point. One thing you told me, for instance — okay, one thing you told me is he got a heads up when the authorities were going to come to his house the night before.
Listen, what you say is between you and me —
You told me he would get phone calls the night before and eight o’clock the police are going to come. He would get a heads up from local police.
You told me that, Igor. Want me to read the quote?
Well, you can read whatever you want right now. Don’t just — you can put yourself in big trouble.
During other portions of this discussion, Zinoviev said that he thought "somebody helped him to do that [kill himself]." When pressed for more information, he said that he had to go and warned Nestel to be careful. In fact, he warned Nestel to be careful multiple times and told him to let that go.
Finally, when asked if he had ever been contacted by anyone in the government or the FBI, Zinoviev responded with a long pause before simply saying, "Um. Great talking to you. Seriously. We talk later." If this answer is any indication, Zinoviev is very concerned about outside sources discovering this interview, as well as the potential safety of himself and Nestel.
The entire conversation could ultimately be innocent enough, but Nestel mentioned during the articles opening sentences that Zinoviev has been avoiding reporters since Epstein's arrest. Additionally, he was described as very nervous about saying anything to the reporter. That paints a troubling picture of the entire situation and lends more credence to the potential of outside sources aiding Epstein in his suicide attempt.