Fedor Emelianenko. Photo courtesy of Affliction Entertainment.
The long-running dispute is now over. After over a year of continual debate regarding Fedor Emelianenko’s perennial status as the world’s top heavyweight, the former PRIDE title holder answered the call in fighting his first top-ranked opponent in nearly three years, and won, in decisive fashion.
Emelianenko quickly knocked down and submitted former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia in just 36 seconds, capping off a night of exciting action at Affliction Clothing’s inaugural event, which took place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California in front of a host of notable athletes and celebrities.
Sylvia literally never even got started in the fight. After circling each other for a brief moment, Emelianenko stunned and dropped Sylvia with a flurry of left and rights. Fedor quickly pounced on the 6’8 Miletich Fighting Systems product, pounding away with hammer fists until Sylvia gave up his back, allowing Emelianenko to sink in the rear naked choke for the impressive finish.
After the bout, post-fight interviewer and former referee “Big” John McCarthy asked the Russian who he’d like to fight next. His answer then stepped into the ring in the form of current embattled UFC heavyweight champ Randy Couture, who is currently seeking legal help in the courts in his quest to fight Emelianenko before his impending retirement.
“I always thought that the day where I would have to fight Randy would come,” Emelianenko said after the fight with the help of a translator. “It would be a true honor to fight him and I hope that we will be able to work things out in order to make it happen.”
The night’s co-main event saw another former UFC heavyweight title holder compete as Andrei Arlovski looked like “The Pitbull” of old, using superior striking and aggressive ground-and-pound to eventually score a late third-round knockout of former IFL star Ben Rothwell.
Rothwell came out aggressive to start the contest but it quickly became apparent that Arlovski’s quickness would eventually become too much for the Pat Miletich-trained fighter to handle. After nearly submitting Rothwell on the ground, Arlovski ended the first round with a flurry of punches that opened up his opponent. The second stanza saw flurry early in the second before another submission attempt allowed Rothwell to gain top position for the first time in the fight.
However Rothwell was too fatigued to mount any offense and the referee opted to stand them up, giving Arlovski another chance to tee off on Rothwell before the round’s end. Bloodied and battered, Rothwell came out of the gate with a desperate flurry at the beginning of the final round. Arlovski avoided the shots and landed a hard right, which were followed up another right hand and finally an uppercut that put Rothwell down for the count.
“I try to do my best in every fight,” Arlovski said after the bout. “I trained hard with my trainers and my sparring partners. He was a very tough guy. Ben is a world-class fighter. He was extremely tough and he presented a good challenge for me. He’ll do well with Affliction.”
In what McCarthy deemed “the result of their first fight, in reverse”, former UFC and PRIDE standout Josh Barnett avenged a previous loss to hard-hitting kickboxer Pedro Rizzo, knocking the Brazilian out in the second round of their featured attraction.
Oddly enough, it was Barnett who opted to stand and trade with Rizzo instead of taking the fight to the ground, where his submission skills were far superior than his opponents. Rizzo chose to stay on the defensive in the first round, allowing Barnett to come forward with punches and leg kicks while trying to wait for a counter shot. It was a strategy that proved to be deadly when Barnett blasted Rizzo with a surprising left hook just a minute into the second round, ending his night early.
Matt Lindland’s return to action almost ended in a bad way as the former Olympic wrestler overcame a series of stunning, standing elbows in the second-round to eventually earn a hard-fought unanimous decision over skilled grappler Fabio Negao.
Lindland nearly finished the fight in the opening seconds as he cracked Negao with a right hand and then locked in a guillotine choke that he held for close to two minutes. With the exception of Negao’s flurry of elbows, the remainder of the fight saw use dirty boxing techniques and superior wrestling to make the ringside judge’s decision elementary.
Fan-favorite Renato “Babalu” Sobral used a variety of unique striking methods and various submission attempts en route to an unanimous decision win over Xtreme Couture fighter Mike Whitehead. Sobral scored points in the first round by landing leg kicks and followed up in the second with omoplata attempt. Even though Sobral was put on his back multiple times throughout the course of the fight, Whitehead mounted very little offense on the ground, practically handing Sobral the win after a second omoplata attempt in the third.
A much improved Mark Hominick showed off his ever-evolving skill set as he submitted longtime veteran Savant Young via armbar in the second round. Also victorious on the pay-per-view broadcast of the event were Mike Pyle and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who each put in dominating performances over their respective opponents, J.J. Ambrose and Edwin Dewees.
Vitor Belfort added highlight reel material to the annals of FOX Sports Net as he knocked out part-time professional boxer Terry Martin in the second round of their cable-televised preliminary bout. The night’s opening bout saw Paul Buentello win a taxing unanimous decision over replacement opponent Gary Goodridge, who was taking the spot of Aleksander Emelianenko.
The California State Athletic Commission ruled Emelianenko unable to compete at the event after he reportedly failed his pre-fight medical exam, leaving him unable to fulfill the necessary licensing requirements. The scheduled bout between Justin Levens and Ray Lizama was cancelled because of time constraints. However both fighters were reportedly paid their full purses including half of the bonuses they would have been paid for winning.
Fedor Emelianenko def. Tim Sylvia - Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Andrei Arlovski def. Ben Rothwell - KO (Punch)
Josh Barnett def. Pedro Rizzo - KO (Punch)
Mark Hominick def. Savant Young - Submission (Armbar)
Renato Sobral def. Mike Whitehead - Unanimous Decision
Matt Lindland def. Fabio Negao - Unanimous Decision
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Edwin Dewees - TKO (Strikes)
Mike Pyle def. J.J. Ambrose - Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Vitor Belfort def. Terry Martin - KO (Punch)
Paul Buentello def. Gary Goodridge - Unanimous Decision
The official announced attendance at the Honda Center was 13,988, a sold-out event. The mark broke the UFC’s three previous shows held in the arena….The announce team for the FSN and PPV telecasts were Jay Glazer, Frank Trigg, and John McCarthy. Glazer handled play-by-play while Trigg and McCarthy split post-fight interview duties….Affliction VP Tom Atencio said that the promotion was targeting November a possible date for their next event….The main event between Emelianenko and Sylvia was for the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts’ heavyweight title, the first-ever belt awarded by a sanctioning organization….The event itself was delayed for about ten minutes due to the ringside doctor not yet being in attendance.
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