Affliction Banned vs UFC

July 19 has come and gone, and for the most part, it was a great night of mixed martial arts. Both events delivered in their own rights. Now that its all over and I’ve had some time to digest it all, it’s time a look at what transpired, and what’s next.

Production Values

Writers and fans have taken two approaches to commenting on Affliction’s production—either it was horrendous and will never compete with the UFC or it was their first show, let’s give them a break. No matter which category you fall in, there’s no hiding it, Affliction’s production was not good. Between the obvious miscues, less than stellar commentating, poor transitions, and awkward moments of silence, Affliction has a lot of tightening up to do with their production.

That said, I was not expecting them to come out of the gate with a production quality that could rival the UFC. It was their first show, and they deserve a break. The majority of their budget was likely spent on the payroll, and they needed to cut costs elsewhere.

I haven’t seen anyone else mention this so maybe it’s just me, but the production of the show did not give it that big event feel like I was hoping. I don’t know if it was because the crowd wasn’t mic’d properly or the entrance platform/band stage seemed too close to the ring (although I’m sure it was where it had to be), but at least on the pay-per-view broadcast, that was my initial impression. I loved the long ramp in PRIDE, but I don’t know if anyone can put on a show like DSE does. Next time, I would rather just see the fighters making the long walk through the crowd like the UFC does it.

I’m not so sure on Megadeth playing. I wasn’t put off by it when it was announced like many others were, but it just seemed awkward to me. The crown seemed to like it though so maybe it came across better in the arena. However, the money it cost to get them could have been better spent elsewhere. I doubt anyone would have ever missed them if they were never part of the plan.

If anyone from Affliction reads this, I do hope you take this as constructive criticism, because it was a great effort for the first show and I did enjoy it, especially the final three fights. However, if they want to ultimately compete with the UFC, the production level needs to be up to par. Long-term, it’s just as important as the fights you put on the card. If you’re going to put world-class fighters inside the ring, the production should be consistent with that. If you’re gonna do it, do it right. One more thing, please work something out with EliteXC to share Mauro Ranallo. A lot of people don’t like him, but he really does make an event feel big even if it isn’t, and you’ll never hear long periods of awkward silence. He would have added a lot of value to last night’s production.

The UFC introduced a new graphics package to their production that was much needed. I liked it. The old graphics were definitely getting stale. Aside from that, the UFC’s production was, well, your typical UFC production—solid, but nothing that blows your socks off. That said, presently, they do have the best production in the industry and like always, it comes off as professionally done.

Affliction vs UFC, who won?

You can’t really say there was a winner and a loser between last night’s events. Both were successful in their own rights. The UFC had another solid event. Everything went according to plan. Anderson Silva won in dominant fashion, and they likely stole quite a few viewers away from Affliction.

On the other hand, Affliction announced the event was sold out with 13,988 in attendance. The CSAC will tell the true story of the live gate when they release their numbers, but the place was packed and after Barnett knocked Rizzo, it was rocking. Tom Atencio claimed they sold approximately 630-650 closed-circuit feeds to bars around the country, which apparently is a good indication of pay-per-view buys, but like the live gate, we don’t know the true numbers yet, although it does sound promising.

Where Afflcition really won was with their three big heavyweight matchups. It couldn’t have turned out better for them. Despite a lackluster first round, Barnett delivered a wicked knockout blow to Pedro Rizzo and seemed to have planted a seed with his post-fight interview that he’s someone the North American audience should be paying attention to. Arlovski came out his rut to give a vintage performance that leaves you anxiously waiting for his next fight. And then there was Fedor. Like many others, I would liked to seen it go a little longer, but in terms of getting his name out there in the American public, it couldn’t have gone better. A lot of my friends are casual fans who saw Fedor for the first time, and to say they were impressed is an understatement. I can’t help but wonder how many other fans just like them were there across the country. Will the word spread about Fedor? I’m cautiously anticipating a yes to that question.

Unless Affliction’s pay-per-view numbers completely bomb, both promotions came out winners last night.

What’s next for Affliction and Fedor?

Affliction has some solid momentum behind after last night’s show. “Banned” ended with a bang and it started the moment Barnett’s left hand met Rizzo’s chin. Like I said above, there’s likely a significant number of casual fans out there that either saw Fedor for the first time at a bar or friend’s house. I can only imagine they will want to see more. I would expect a second event will indeed happen. The pay-per-view buys aren’t in yet, but whatever that number is, Affliction’s officials have to know they made waves last night. There’s too many questions that were asked last night not to move forward, with the biggest question being—can Affliction, indeed, build a promotion that can be a legitimate competitor to the UFC?

No matter what anyone says, no one really knows for sure. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but at the very least some good fights were set up last night. As far as Fedor concerned, it’s obvious who the three choices for him are—Randy Couture, Josh Barnett and Andrei Arlovski. If Couture can get out of his contract in time for a November event, you have to go with Couture. Let’s face it. He isn’t getting any younger, and he isn’t going to be fighting anyone else in the meantime to build up to it. The longer he sits on the bench, the less appeal that fight has. Assuming that’s what happens, that leaves a great match up between Barnett and Arlovski to determine who gets Fedor (or Couture if he wins and decides he wants to fight again) in February. With this scenario you could also put a fight together with Aleksander Emelianenko (assuming he corrects the licensing issue) and Tim Sylvia. Give Sylvia a shot at redemption.

If Couture doesn’t get out of his contract in time, I say they put Arlovski in with Fedor. I know a lot of hardcore fans have wanted to see Barnett fight Fedor forever now, including myself, but Arlovski’s performance last night was so good, it really left me wanting to see more. Let’s face it, he deserved the title shot against Nogueira much more than Frank Mir. Since he’s no longer there, might as well give him the title shot here. With an Arlovski/Fedor fight you could make a fight with Barnett and Sylvia, and Aleksander and Rothwell.

If you put Barnett with Fedor, then the other fights are a lot harder to make. Rothwell and Sylvia are teammates so thats out. No one wants to see Arlovski/Sylvia IV. Arlovski just whooped Rothwell. You can throw Aleks in there with any three of those guys and the third fight just doesn’t make sense.

Notable Quotes

Dana White on Fedor:

White has criticized and mocked the popular Russian for failing to face top competition and taking on inexperienced and even smaller fighters over the past three years.

But upon learning that Emelianenko had submitted ex-UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia on Saturday in Anaheim, Calif., in less than a minute, White unflinchingly admitted he was impressed.

“It does (change my opinion),” he conceded. “Tim Sylvia was a real opponent.”

Not even White could spin this one.

Tim Sylvia on Fedor:

“I know that I’m one of the best in the world. I was amazed at how good Fedor is.”

“[Emelianenko] hurt me right away and submitted me. The guy’s a stud. I don’t even think he’s human.”

“That guy hits hard. I’ve never been hit that hard before.”

“This guy is unreal. He’s incredible, and I don’t know if anybody’s going to beat him for a while.”

Fedor’s reaction to Tim:

“I’m human. I get nervous just like the next person. But I just try for that not to affect me and just approach a fight in a calm manner.”

Fedor on how he thinks he would fare against Couture:

“Every fighter has his strengths and weaknesses. Randy has many strenghts, but I can see weaknesses. It’s a matter of taking advantage of the weaknesses. A match between us would depend on who took advantage of the others’ weaknesses.”

Babalu apparently wants Tito next:

Renato “Babalu” Sobral also noted that there was one name he had in mind for his next fight, and he hoped Atencio would make it happen. If he does, Sobral said, “I’ll be here to kick his ass.”

After that remark, the name ‘Tito’ drifted in the air.

Steve Cofield reports Rampage Jackson was at the Affliction event.

UFC Dana White inferred on Friday that Jackson would be under medical care through the weekend. That wasn’t the case as he was seen watching the Affliction card live in Anaheim.