Many business principles translate across industries, but that doesn’t mean all businesses are the same. However, casual clothing company Affl iction will attempt to make the jump from apparel to fi ght promoting on July 19 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, with one of the biggest MMA fi ght cards in history. While Affl iction: Banned is stacked with fi ghts that have hardcore fans breathing heavy, it may leave newer fans feeling cold.
If you’re reading this magazine, chances are you know who Tim “the Maine-iac” Sylvia is and you have an opinion about controversial lesson Renato “Babalu” Sobral tried to teach David Heath. But you may not know much about Fedor, Josh Barnett, Pedro Rizzo, Mike Whitehead, Matt Lindland, or Ben Rothwell and that’s a darn shame. To help out, here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about the July 19 card.
FEDOR EMELIANENKO VS. TIM SYLVIA
There is a lot of online chatter about whether he still deserves to be ranked among the top poundfor- pound fi ghters in the world, but the fact remains that Fedor Emelianenko’s resume boasts wins over Ricardo Arona, Mark Coleman, Mirko Filipovic, Gary Goodridge, Heath Herring, Mark Hunt, Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, Kevin Randleman, Semmy Schilt, and Sobral. The PRIDE FC heavyweight champion and Master of Sport in Sambo may appear sloppy in the ring, but he transitions seamlessly between powerful strikes, takedowns and takedown defense, and grappling. But most impressive about Fedor is the amount of abuse he can shrug off.
In a 2003 PRIDE event, Kazuyuki Fujita nearly knocked Fedor out on his feet, but he stumbled forward, scored damaging blows, and won the fi ght by rear naked choke halfway through the fi rst round. In another match, former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman posterized Fedor with an absolutely insane suplex, only to lose by submission less than two minutes into the fi ght.
Icy and expressionless, facing Fedor is a bit like squaring off with the Russian army; no matter how much damage you infl ict, he will weather the early storm and beat you mercilessly when you’re spent.
JOSH BARNETT VS. PEDRO RIZZO
This bout is actually a rematch of a UFC 30 fi ght from 2001 that Rizzo took by knockout. Barnett was suspended for steroid use immediately after he won the UFC heavyweight belt at UFC 36, and after months of disputing the results, “The Babyface Assassin” left the UFC and relocated to Japan, fi ghting only once on American soil since 2002. Like your neighbor’s weird band, Barnett only has a cult following in America but is a huge star in Japan, where he was a contender for the PRIDE heavyweight strap.
UFC, PRIDE, and Vale Tudo veteran Rizzo shares wins with Barnett over Coleman and Dan Severn. He also owns wins against David “Tank” Abbott, Andrei Arlovski, Jeff Monson, and Ricco Rodriguez. Rizzo has fought only four times since 2003, so it will be interesting to see if he can handle Barnett in his prime.
RENATO SOBRAL VS. MIKE WHITEHEAD
Whitehead’s been on a tear since losing to Keith Jardine in 2006. He’s racked up eleven straight wins in various promotions, and the Xtreme Couture fi ghter seems to be poised for something big. Knocking off “Babalu” would do wonders for this The Ultimate Fighter 2 veteran.
MATT LINDLAND VS. FABIO NEGAO
One of the founders of Team Quest and the Sportfi ght promotion, Matt “The Law” Lindland is one of a handful of fi ghters savvy enough to be talked about constantly while rarely fi ghting. The 2000 Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling silver medalist is a highly regarded middleweight, but he has fl oated since his acrimonious split with the UFC in 2005, competing for the International Fight League, Bodog Fight, and World Fighting Alliance among others. Lindland’s only losses since 2004 came when he fought Emelianenko and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson above his natural weight class.
Not yet three years into his professional career, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Fabio “Negao” Nascimento is a Fury FC veteran who has nothing to lose from a loss and everything to gain from a good showing against Lindland.
ALEKSANDER EMELIANENKO VS. PAUL BUENTELLO
It seems to be a package deal – if you want Fedor, you sign his tatted-up little brother, too. It’s a win-win situation, really. The Emelianenko brothers make bank, and your fi ght promotion gets two Sambo Masters of Sport on one card. Aleks doesn’t have the resume of his big brother, but if he shows well on July 19, he might get the opportunity to shine for an organization where his brother isn’t king of the hill.
Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello has fought for darn near everybody – small regional promotions, King of the Cage, UFC, and most recently, Strikeforce. Buentello’s results are mixed against top competition, so it will be interesting to see if he rises to the challenge posed by Emelianenko.
These fi ghters are also set to appear on the card, though the matchups were undecided as of this writing:
The IFL only created a few stars, and the culinarily- inclined Rothwell is one of them. Friendly away from the ring but fi erce in it, this Pat Miletich product tore through all the competition his former employer placed in front of him, going undefeated in 2006 and 2007. Now it’s time for Monte Cox’s client to prove he can hang with the best in the world.
While he came up short against the only bigname competition he’s faced (including Chris Lytle and Ryan Schulz), this former IFL fi ghter recently garnered headlines when he beat the favored Takeshi Inoue by decision at Shooto – Tradition 1 in Japan.
A student of renowned Canadian kickboxing trainer Shawn Tompkins, “The Machine” has spent the majority of his career bouncing between the UFC, World Extreme Cagefi ghting, and the Quebec-based TKO promotion.
Another Xtreme Couture fi ghter, Mike “Quicksand” Pyle has fought in the welterweight divisions of Sportfi ght, IFL, WEC, and EliteXC. He has also traveled to Denmark several times to compete for a promotion called Viking Fight, which we know nothing about. However, it sounds totally badass.