by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
News of the cancellation of Affliction “Trilogy” scheduled for Aug. 1 began the craziest day of news in mixed martial arts history on Friday. As many MMA fans were stunned by the news, so was Affliction partner M-1 Global.
Since the story broke, we’ve learned the Affliction MMA promotion has closed its doors. The Affliction Clothing brand has been cleared to be a sponsor of fighters competing under the Zuffa umbrella, and all it’s contracted athletes will soon become employees of the Ultimate Fighting Championship or some other organization, depending upon how negotiations play out.
M-1 Global released an official statement addressing the cancellation of the event to the media expressing their shock, disappointment and planned course of action upon receiving the information that the plug had been pulled on the pay-per-view fight card.
“M-1 Global would like to sincerely apologize to fight fans who had made plans to either attend next Saturday’s Affliction and M-1 ‘Trilogy’ event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., or watch the event at home on pay-per-view,” read the statement released to the media. “Early Friday afternoon, M-1 Global learned without warning or prior notice that Affliction had decided to cancel ‘Trilogy.’ As a partner of Affliction, M-1 Global was saddened to learn of these developments.”
“The cancellation took our company completely by surprise, as Fedor Emelianenko, M-1 Challenge fighter Mikahil Zayats, and a traveling party of 35 people from Russia consisting of Fedor’s trainers, friends, family, as well as M-1 support personnel were all on a plane en route to Anaheim.
“Additionally, Fedor did not learn of the cancellation until arriving at the airport and informed directly by M-1 legal counsel,” further stated the press release.
Top ranked heavyweight Emelianenko was scheduled to face second ranked Josh Barnett in the main event, but Barnett was denied a California State Athletic Commission license after failing a pre-fight drug test for a performance enhancing, banned substance. The effort to find a replacement for Barnett did not yield a viable opponent and the entire event was subsequently canceled. M-1 maintains it was not due to Emelianenko’s willingness to take on any challenger.
“Following the California State Athletic Commission’s decision not to license Josh Barnett earlier in the week, M-1 Global was confident that a suitable replacement would be found. Fedor was ready, willing, and able to compete against whomever Affliction determined was the most qualified candidate amongst an extensive list of potential replacements,” they commented. “M-1 Global understands and shares the disappointment being expressed by many fans that Fedor will not be able to compete on Aug. 1 as scheduled. However, we will work to ensure that Fedor returns to active competition as soon as possible.”
While taken by surprise that “Trilogy” was axed, M-1 Global’s reaction to the disappearance of Affliction is to step in and raise it’s stock in the mixed martial arts market place.
“With Affliction’s announcement that it will cease to promote MMA events, M-1 Global will look to help fill the void created by its departure with the launch of its new ‘Breakthrough’ fight series,” announced M-1 Global.
The first event is scheduled for Aug. 28 in Los Angeles and will feature “King” Mo Lawal and Don “The Predator” Fyre in the main event and Karl Amoussou taking on Nick Thompson in the co-main event.