Surprises and Switches at Affliction Presser

Tito Ortiz was nowhere to be found at today’s Affliction press conference in Las Vegas, fueling speculation that may not have signed with the promotion after all. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Affliction Entertainment held a press conference earlier this afternoon at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to confirm a quartet of fights and reveal broadcast details for the promotion’s scheduled “Day of Reckoning” event, which will take place on October 11th at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

Among the bouts officially announced today by Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio included two previously reported bouts: a rematch between IFL light heavyweight champion Vladimir Matyushenko and longtime divisional contender Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and a middleweight contest between former UFC standouts Vitor Belfort and Matt Lindland.

Matyushenko joins the ranks of Affliction after being released from his contract with the International Fight League last week. He has reeled off nine straight wins, most recently a successful IFL title defense against Jamal Patterson this past April. Nogueira competed at Affliction’s first-ever show last month, scoring a first-round TKO of Edwin Dewees. He and Matyushenko originally faced off at a Universal Fighting-Arts Organization show overseas in 2002, where Matyushenko won a unanimous decision.

Following his decision win over Fabio Negao at “Banned” last month, Lindland stated that he would enjoy fighting Belfort now that he has joined the ranks of the middleweight division. He’ll get his wish pending the recovery of Belfort’s broken left hand, which the Brazilian suffered in his second-round knockout of Terry Martin at the same event. While Belfort has told the media he is confident that he’ll be able to compete, his hand must be cleared by a doctor before he is permitted to fight.

Drifting away from their short-term relationship with FOX Sports Net, Atencio confirmed that three of the total nine bouts on October 11th’s card would be aired on HDNet, with the other seven being part of the pay-per-view broadcast. Two of the three preliminary bouts were announced at the press conference. Xtreme Couture’s Mike Pyle, who shocked many with his lightning quick submission of J.J. Ambrose at July 19th’s show, will take on undefeated middleweight prospect Jason High.

The other confirmed bout is a heavyweight clash between former UFC title challenger Paul Buentello and IFL heavyweight champion Roy Nelson. Buentello scored a hard-fought decision win over Gary Goodridge at last month’s event. Goodridge was a last-minute replacement for Aleksander Emelianenko, who is now reportedly banned from fighting in the United States for unknown reasons. Nelson was originally rumored to be taking on the ever-improving Jay White, but it seems that discussions may have fell apart at the last minute.

Atencio also announced the signing of lightweight standout Chris Horodecki to an expected multi-fight deal. Horodecki’s manager, Jeff Clark, confirmed his client’s release from the IFL earlier this week. Several organizations were reported to have been interested in his services, including World Victory Road, World Extreme Cagefighting, the upstart American Fight League, and obviously Affliction. An opponent for Horodecki was not named.

One assumed signing that was not present at the press conference was former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, who revealed that he would be signing a “ground-breaking” deal yesterday in a Sports Illustrated report. However Affliction officials have stated that not only have they not signed the controversial star, they have yet to even meet with him for preliminary discussions.

Ortiz’s non-compete clause with the UFC was expected to end at midnight on Tuesday, which would signal his freedom to sign with another organization. The UFC would still have the right to match any offer however. Ortiz’s assumed deal though, was said to have had him involved in more than just fighting inside the confines of Affliction, something the UFC likely would not have agreed to.

“I guarantee you that my contract will be like no other,” Ortiz said in last night’s SI report. “It will be a ground-breaking record contract for sure, without a doubt. There’s so much money to be made right now in mixed martial arts and it’s all about the fighters trying to make that money. It’s going to be a long-term deal where I put my heart and soul into the company and help build them. That’s something I’m interested in doing. They’re going to bring me on, not just as a fighter but also doing some of the back work also.”

Affliction COO Michael Cohen has denied the report, stating that the only type of conversation the promotion had with Ortiz was to let him know that they were interested in signing him and to set up a future meeting between the two sides.

“Donald Trump, myself and Tito engaged in a conversation,” Cohen said. “There was nothing substantive that was discussed other than that we are interested in sitting down with him, which we are planning on doing in the very near future, to discuss with him the opportunity to join the family of Affliction fighters.”

It’s key to point out that Ortiz has put himself in this situation before. Three years ago, Ortiz strongly expressed that he intended to sign with the now-defunct World Fighting Alliance, which busted into the MMA scene with a star-studded PPV event in July 2006 only to fold later in the year. However UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta contacted Ortiz and was able to sign him to a six-fight deal that expired in May. Ortiz has yet to comment on any of the ongoing events.

The “Day of Reckoning” main event still remains a bout between Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett. Atencio stated that the two will fight to become the number-one contender for Fedor Emelianenko’s WAMMA heavyweight title. Emelianenko was scratched from the event after a lingering hand injury suffered in his win over Tim Sylvia last month will leave him unable to compete. Additional rumored participants on the card include IFL welterweight champion Jay Hieron, who is reportedly near a deal with the promotion, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, who may be facing Ortiz if he does indeed sign with Affliction, and Pedro Rizzo.


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