Arguably the best MMA heavyweight in the world is now without an opponent. The Fedor Emelianenko vs. Josh Barnett fight has been canceled. It was announced today that Barnett failed a drug test and will not be given a license to fight.
This is a devastating blow to the Affliction promotion. Affliction has been struggling from day one to compete with UFC and promote big events. I hear or read something almost weekly about Affliction shutting down. Affliction canceling its main-event two weeks before the show may be the final death blow to the company.
For Barnett, this couldn’t have come at an absolutely worst time. This would be Barnett’s second drug suspension. I can’t see Barnett ever having an opportunity at such a money match in the United States again. Barnett’s history of drug suspensions could prevent him from ever being licensed again in the United States.
[adinserter name=”366 left”]The news also comes at a time when a UFC return for Barnett was in sight. Barnett was stripped of his UFC heavyweight title in 2002 after failing a drug test for steroids. Dana White surprisingly dropped Barnett’s name recently and seemed open to Barnett returning. Consider that offer null and void as a result of this news.
The big question now is what to do with Fedor Emelianenko on August 1? Vitor Belfort and Bobby Lashley have been reportedly approached to take the fight. I can’t see Lashley taking it, and I sure hope he doesn’t do it. Vitor has taken big fights on short notice in the past, so keep an eye on him. However, I wouldn’t expect anything from anyone taking a fight with Fedor Emelianenko with less than two weeks notice.
The Affliction show does have a strong undercard, but it is nothing that casual MMA fans are going to buy in this economy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the show moved from pay-per-view to a free Showtime event. I can’t think anyone in the Affliction organization thinks this one has a shot as a paid event. I don’t think the show will be canceled altogether.
[adinserter name=”366 right”]The news comes at a very interesting time for Fedor. Due to Brock Lesnar’s success, Fedor’s name has been dropped more than ever before in regards to a UFC deal. Dana White has both praised and criticized Fedor in recent interviews. White recently said while you could argue Fedor is the best heavyweight in MMA, he is not the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA. White concluded that as good as Fedor is, he hasn’t fought anyone of high quality in years.
He is right. I love Fedor and as a longtime Pride FC fan I have probably seen all of his fights. Five years ago the guy was a machine and the unquestioned best fighter in the world. He has only fought four times in the last three years. He hasn’t fought anyone that would be considered elite competition. I love the guy, but anybody that thinks it is a given he would destroy Brock Lesnar has no real idea. The guy hasn’t been tested in years.
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