by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
Top-ranked heavyweight Josh Barnett was originally scheduled to fight Andre Arlovksi in the main event of Affliction’s second pay-per-view card, “Day of Reckoning,” before it was postponed due to sagging ticket sales and an impending partnership with boxing promoter Golden Boy Promotions.
Shortly after, Affliction and Golden Boy announced their boxing/MMA hybrid event for Jan. 17 in Anaheim, Calif., to feature No. 1 ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.
Though it was widely assumed that the Arlovski/Barnett tilt would be moved to the January card, things changed when Affliction inserted Arlovksi and Roy Nelson into EliteXC’s third CBS televised card, “Heat,” on Oct. 4.
Barnett says he was in Japan during the EliteXC announcement, and it didn’t come as good news.
“I was disappointed, yes,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “That was supposed to be my fight. We talked about it at some point prior to going to Japan, and I found out that I didn’t get the fight while in Japan. I continued to work on some business there, especially after I found out I wasn’t getting the fight.”
A fight with Fedor Emelianenko on the Jan. 17 card would seem a logical concession, but Barnett says he has turned it down.
“It would be (logical) for the fans, but the fans don’t understand contracts or the way things have been put down on the back end in terms of the business aspect of it,” he said. “Or the details between both of the fighters. So, it’s not really that we want to rob the fans of something, it’s just that I don’t think it’s possible.”
He maintains his decision is based on personal and business reasons.
“There’s just some times it’s better to keep your mouth shut and just not really talk too much about things,” he said. “I’m not trying to make anybody look bad or talk about the details of it, but it’s just not a fight that’s going to happen in January. And I think that the feeling is actually mutual.”
Barnett met Emelianenko for dinner during his trip to Japan, and the possibility of the fight was discussed. It was there Barnett concluded he would not fight his friend in January.
“There’s a lot of factors that go into this one,” he continued. “It’s not so simple.”
Affliction vice president Tom Atencio now says a Jan. 24 date for the first Affliction/Golden Boy venture is likely, due to the recent announcement of UFC 93 scheduled to take place on the same date in Dublin, Ireland.
“It doesn’t make any sense for us to go head to head with them,” Atencio said.
For Barnett, these things are part of the ups and downs of the fight business.
“Sometimes they’re surprising and sometimes they’re not, but I live for doing this my way and I’m never going to take second best from anyone ever,” he said.