by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Early information was scattered Friday morning, but all of MMAWeekly.com’s sources pointed to one fact: Affliction “Trilogy” had been cancelled.
The headline bout, and main selling point of the event, was a showdown between the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked heavyweights in the world. WAMMA champion Fedor Emelianenko, unanimously regarded as tops in the heavyweight class, would defend against UFC and Pride veteran Josh Barnett.
That was until it was revealed earlier this week that Barnett had allegedly tested positive for steroids in a pre-fight drug test that caused the California State Athletic Commission to deny him a license to fight.
“The license of Josh Barnett was denied pursuant to rule 303 of Title IV of the California Code of Regulations,” said CSAC Interim Executive Officer Dave Thornton on Wednesday. “That rule prohibits the use of certain substances, including anabolic agents, by any boxer or MMA fighter.”
Hours after MMAWeekly.com reported news of the cancellation, Affliction vice president Tom Atencio issued a statement citing time as the decisive factor.
“Finding an opponent for the No. 1 ranked MMA heavyweight 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,” stated Atencio. “But in the end, we just didn’t have enough time to promote a new fight to our standards.”
The statement went on to express disappointment that the undercard would be a casualty of the cancellation, but sources close to several fighters indicated that preliminary talks have already begun to try and place some of the undercard bouts and/or fighters on other fight cards that are coming up.
One event that is perhaps more likely than others to gain from the cancellation is M-1 Global’s Aug. 28 event in Los Angeles. Several sources indicated that event is a primary focus for placing undercard bouts. Although the talks are still preliminary, M-1 Global’s event would make sense given that the company is a main partner of Affliction and was co-promoting the Aug. 1 “Trilogy” event.
Affliction has also worked closely with Strikeforce, sharing fighters with the California-based promotion in the past. Strikeforce has an Aug. 15 event on Showtime featuring a women’s title bout between Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos. That event has also suffered recent setbacks with the withdrawal of heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem in a title bout against Fabricio Werdum and, Friday morning, Joe Riggs dropped out of a scheduled welterweight championship fight against Nick Diaz.
Given the strong relationship between the two promotions, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Affliction to try and place some of its fighters on the Strikeforce card to try and fill in some of the gaps.
Affliction noted that ticketholders for the canceled “Trilogy” event should contact Ticketmaster or ticketmaster.com for a refund.