Josh Barnett’s positive steroid test didn’t just ruin Affliction’s main event, it appears it single-handily managed to bring the entire event down too. Instead of securing a replacement to fight Fedor, Affliction has decided to scrap the event altogether.
In a matter of days Affliction Entertainment’s “Trilogy” event when from promising the top heavyweight fight in mixed martial arts to being cancelled outright, multiple sources confirmed to SI.com Friday morning.
Affliction Entertainment vice president began making calls with the news Friday morning to fighters scheduled to appear on the Aug. 1 card, SI.com has learned.
Details are scarce at the moment. We don’t know whether the event will be re-scheduled or what happens to all the guys who were expecting paychecks on August 1. With Strikeforce’s card taking hits too, maybe Affliction can work with them to get a least a few of their guys on the card. Who knows, maybe MDS’ idea wasn’t so crazy after all.
Nevertheless, this has obviously been a huge and extremely unfortunate blow to Affliction and their fighters. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if Affliction regroups or decides they’ve had enough altogether. We’ll keep you posted.
Update: It sounds like Showtime, who was hosting the pay-per-view, was highly influential in the decision to cancel the event.
“The latest word is that both camps agreed. Affliction wants the fight, but there’s somebody higher up, whether it be with the pay-per-view programming or what not, that’s saying that they’re holding on to see,” said [Shawn] Tompkins on Thursday.
“It’s just a matter of sitting down with everybody involved: Showtime, our partners M-1 Global, everybody, and just saying, ‘Look this is what we’re gonna do. How does everybody feel about it? Let’s take a vote and finalize it,’” Atencio told host Gabriel Morency.
A source close to the situation also informed MMAWeekly.com that Affliction’s pay-per-view provider, Showtime, played a major factor in the cancellation.
Update 2: A statement from Tom Atencio in the official press release.
“Finding an opponent for the No. 1 ranked MMA heavy weight champion in such a short period of time was a huge endeavor and I’m thrilled at the amount of fighters willing to take on this challenge,” Tom Atencio, vice president of Affliction Entertainment, said in a statement. “But in the end, we just didn’t have enough time to promote a new fight to our standards.”
“Well, what can I say. It’s ridiculous because one idiot we all have to pay for that. F*ck it. Maybe I … I don’t know. Every time … Maybe I’ll go to the UFC. It’s ridiculous that this has to happen. I’ve been preparing for weeks now.”
Mousasi still has to fight for DREAM in October and may still end up on either the Strikeforce or M-1 Global card, so you can probably ignore that UFC comment. He’s probably just venting.
Update 5: Paul Buentello’s reaction:
“It’s a big hit, dude. It’s a big hit for me. I’ve been in this sport a long time, and it’s just a really big hit. I mean, it was good money for me, but it’s my livelihood, and it’s a big hit. It’s a really big hit for me…From what I know right now, I don’t get nothing…[Atencio] said they just got to put it all back together and see what they could do. From what I understand, I still have a fight left on my contract with Affliction. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t understand the politics that deeply. …Right now, I got to go to the unemployment line, I guess…Sh*t happens. I just hate to be in the middle of it.”
Update 6: Brett Rogers manager, Mike Reilly, tries to explain why a deal didn’t materialize with Affliction to fight Fedor. Says Strikeforce wasn’t necessarily standing in the way. It was apparently just too complicated with too many people involved to get the deal done in time.
“My understanding was that for the most part there was approval for it… Our first response was that any fight that we would agree to take would have to be approved of and would have to be in the interest of Strikeforce and Showtime. You know, that is our home; that is who we work for; that’s where our loyalty lies…[Scott Coker] called me and talked to me and said he was pushing for us… I don’t know who exactly said no. Like I said, we had good support to go forward with the fight and encouragement from our employer. We never got the feeling that Strikeforce was actually standing in the way of it happening, per se. I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. It certainly wasn’t one person standing up and saying, ‘No, you can’t do this.’ I think that there was just a lot of complexity to try and put something together in a 48-hour period. And I think that the more people looked at this and realized that trying to rush this forward and trying to do this so fast was wasting a greater potential to really capitalize on two great athletes meeting later down the road.”
Helwani’s report also mentioned Rogers was weighing in at 290 lbs. so they were talking about doing the fight at a catchweight.
Update 7: M-1 is trying to secure one or two of the more “affordable” fights for their August 28 “Breakthrough” event.
Sources close to the organization, which was the co-promoter of “Trilogy,” today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that company officials are trying to secure some of the show’s previously scheduled bouts, most notably Gegard Mousasi vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral, for its upcoming show.
Part of a star-studded undercard – which featured names such as Paul Buentello, Takanori Gomi, Jay Hieron and Ben Rothwell – could be secured for the M-1 event.
According to one source, the organization is working with a limited budget and is unlikely to afford a fight such as the co-main event of Vitor Belfort vs. Jorge Santiago, but it is actively pursuing some other, more afforable matchups.
Hopefully, the ones they can’t afford can make it on the Strikeforce card somehow.
Update 8: Some potentially good news for the fighters.
It appears that things might not be a total loss for the fighters on the Affliction: Trilogy card. Sources close to one of the fighters told MMAMadness.com that Affliction VP Tom Atencio promised at least one fighter compensation for the card’s cancellation. The source also revealed that some fights could be pushed to the Aug. 15 Strikeforce card or the Aug. 28 M-1 Global card. However, everything is still, “A fiasco right now.”
Update 9: Sherdog has some news out of the Xtreme Couture camp who had four fighters on the card. They’re obviously disappointed, upset, etc., but looking into what they can do to get compensated. Affliction is rumored to be offering them t-shirt deals, and Jay Hieron’s name has been thrown in the hat to replace Joe Riggs against Nick Diaz for the Strikeforce welterweight title on August 15.
“Where we are right now with all the fighters, is their managers and lawyers are looking at how (the fighters) are going to be compensated for lack of a fight,” said Tompkins.
One source told Sherdog.com Friday that the clothing purveyors-turned-promoters are offering T-shirt deals to the ousted fighters to help offset their losses.
Hieron’s manager, Ken Pavia, didn’t have much time to talk about the fallout, though for a good reason. Hieron’s name has been thrown in the hat as a potential replacement For Joe Riggs, who withdrew Thursday from his Strikeforce 170-pound title fight against Nick Diaz on Aug. 15 due to a reaction to medication, and Pavia is in swift negotiations with the promotion.
Sherdog.com has learned that Strikeforce seems warm to the potential matchup, even for the newly minted welterweight title.
Shawn Tompkins said they want the fight for Jay.
Update 10: Ben Rothwell is blaming Josh Barnett, defending Affliction.
“I just want to say I don’t understand why people are blaming Affliction. What are they supposed to do in this situation? It isn’t their fault Josh [Barnett] tested positive for steroids. From what I understand, this is a business decision and it comes down to losing a little money or a lot of money. What would you do? I blame Josh Barnett, if anyone deserves to be criticized it’s him.”