Affliction’s third — and most definitely not last — show is set for August 1st and the card is fucking stacked. Nearly every fight will have an impact on the top 10 rankings and Tim Sylvia will likely be grossly overpaid once again. I can’t wait. While the event is still about two months away, the anticipation is killing me so here’s where I take a look at the currently rumored fights and break them down.
MAIN EVENT: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Josh Barnett
With a win, Fedor will further cement his legacy as the most dominant force this sport has ever seen. A loss will turn him into a mere mortal, something thought to be impossible. For Barnett, a victory will erase the nasty shit taste in everybody’s mouth from his last fight against Gilbert Yvel, while simultaneously adding the title “#1 Heavyweight in the world” to his name. A loss will basically reassure the reputation he has garnered up until this point: a tough-as-nails perennial contender who can’t seem to win when the stakes are at their highest.
In short, Barnett has more to gain than Fedor, while the Russian has a lot more to lose than the Babyface Assassin. As for who should win this, do I need to actually say it?
Vitor Belfort vs. Jorge Santiago
I wrote a Bloody Elbow fanpost on Santiago before I started writing at Fightlinker, basically pointing out that the guy was on a huge goddamn roll and was most definitely somebody to watch. If his 9 straight wins and tournament victories in both Strikeforce and Sengoku weren’t enough to erase the 1-2 record he posted in the UFC, a victory over “The Phenom” will most definitely do the trick. A victory would push him into the top 5, while a loss would sent him back to the middle of the pack. As for Belfort, a win over the currently top 10 ranked Santiago would signify that he has officially returned to the form we all remember from years ago. A loss would be absolutely devastating at this point in Belfort’s career and could mean the end of him fighting anywhere near the top-level.
This fight is a tough call, but I think Belfort takes it. Maybe it’s simply nostalgia, but I want to believe that the old Vitor is back. Santiago is as tough as they come, but Belfort is a few steps above any of the the fighters he’s beaten in the course of his 9-0 run since leaving the UFC — including perennial contender Kazuo Misaki.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral
Mousasi has been surging as of late, while Babalu has put together a win streak of his own. Mousasi’s most impressive victory as of late came not in an MMA bout but in a K1 rules bouth against K1 veteran Musashi, which truly showcased the Red Devils member’s striking skills. A victory over former UFC title challenger Babalu would be the biggest of Mousasi’s career and officially move him from the middleweight top 10 to the light heavyweight rankings. A loss would send him back to Japan losing some steam going into his upcoming match with Sokodjou later this year. As for Babalu, a W over Mousasi would officially make him the best 205er in the world not signed to a Zuffa contract. A loss would send him back to the bottom of the ladder, a place he has worked very hard since his UFC departure to avoid being. Both fighters have about the same at stake in this one.
Here, I’m rooting for a Babalu victory but I think Mousasi’s much improved striking makes the difference and gives him the victory. While Babalu will arguably be the toughest test of Mousasi’s career thus far, he should be the favorite to win this one.
Tim Sylvia vs. Paul Buentello
At this point, Sylvia has no reason to be ranked in the top 10, where he still sits on most lists. A victory here would give him a legitimate reason to still be considered a top 10 heavyweight, while a loss would signal that it might be time for Big Tim to call it quits. As for Buentello, a victory over the former UFC heavyweight champion would be the biggest of his career, while a loss would keep him where he is: a hard-hitter who can beat on lesser opponents but can’t come out on top if he steps up in competition.
Buentello probably hits harder, but Sylvia should take this one simply based off of his reach advantage and the fact that he is focusing on his boxing during training.
Jay Hieron vs. Paul Daley
Daley has looked impressive against lesser opponents but has had trouble against tougher guys. Hieron is a tougher guy and has striking skills on par with Daley and has a much more evolved ground game. Hieron takes it.
Chris “I get carded at the movies” Horodecki vs. Dan Lauzon
The biggest factor here will be ring rust. In the 14 months or so since Horodecki’s last fight, Lauzon has finished three fights, most recently a comeback victory against Bobby Green at the last Affliction show. This one is a bit of a toss up but I think the ring rust and the fact that Lauzon is a much better fighter than the 4-0 rookie who lost to Spencer Fisher at UFC 64 means Horodecki will be iin for a rough night.