Fri Jul 24 04:05pm EDT
Update: Kevin Iole is now reporting that Affliction will now become a sponsor of the UFC:
Later on Friday, Affliction opted to get out of the promoting business and, in a joint statement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, announced it would become a sponsor of the UFC. The fate of the fighters under contract with Affliction is not known yet.
Josh Barnett's positive drug test proved to be a harbinger of bad things to come as today, Affliction confirmed that their August 1 event was canceled. Even before Barnett's issue, ticket sales were rumored to be dismal. The Affliction officials scrambled to find an opponent for Fedor Emelianenko, Barnett's opponent in the main event and the top heavyweight mixed martial artist in the world. With the fight a little more than a week away, and Affliction hamstrung by the large purses they had given out in previous fights, they couldn't make it happen.
Though it's a shame that Emelianenko won't be fighting, he is hardly the only person to get screwed in this deal. Affliction put together an entire card with some talented fighters, all who won't be fighting next Saturday. What happens to them?
Gegard Mousasi: Though the Armenian (pictured) is young -- his 24th birthday is the same day as the ill-fated Affliction event -- he has cemented himself as an exciting fighter. His fight against Renato "Babalu" Sobral was to be his chance to prove himself to an American crowd, as his previous fights had been overseas. Now, will he say forget it and stick with Dream in Japan? Will he sign with Strikeforce or the UFC?
Vitor Belfort: Dana White let it slip that he wanted Vitor Belfort in the UFC, so it's likely that he will still find a home for his MMA, despite the cancellation of his fight with Jorge Santiago.
Takanori Gomi: It was viewed as quite a coup when Affliction signed Japanese star Gomi. In fact, after he was added to Trilogy, my colleague wondered if Affliction: Trilogy was a better event than UFC 100. With Joe Riggs pulling out of his August 15 Strikeforce fight, my fingers are crossed that Strikeforce will pick up Gomi for a fight with Nick Diaz, a rematch of their 2007 Pride bout that ended as a no contest.
Jay Hieron: The Xtreme Couture fighter was scheduled to fight Paul Daley at Affliction, but said in a recent interview that he wasn't worried about Affliction's shaky future, because he has been in negotiations with both Strikeforce and Dream.
These fighters, and all those scheduled to fight next Saturday, will still find a home for their fighting. It is just a shame that they have gone through preparations and hard work to have it all come crashing down on their heads so close to the fights.
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