Arlovski confirms Barnett showdown at Affliction
Tue, 2008-08-05 21:46 — Bevois
Monday, August 04, 2008
by Loretta Hunt
Andrei Arlovski will have to wait at least one more bout before he gets his crack at the world’s No. 1 heavyweight.
The Belarusian bomber’s camp confirmed Monday that their 29-year-old star has agreed to face Josh Barnett at Affliction 2 “Day of Reckoning” at the Thomas & Mack Center on Oct. 11 in Las Vegas. The headlining bout will determine a clear-cut challenger for Fedor Emelianenko, who iced Tim Sylvia in a cool 36 seconds at the promotion’s inaugural July 19 “Banned” event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Emelianenko, 31, earned the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts (WAMMA) heavyweight championship title for his speedy decimation of the No. 5 ranked Sylvia.
Affliction reps approached Arlovski (13-5) late last week with the proposition to meet former UFC heavyweight champion Barnett (23-5), who also avenged a seven-year loss to Pedro Rizzo on July 19 with a dynamic second-round knockout. The promotion, which had looked to pair Arlovski and Emelianenko next after their stellar performances on July 19, said “The Last Emperor” had broken his hand and would not be able to participate.
The former Pride heavyweight champion complained of a dislocated thumb at a post-fight press conference following his explosive victory over Sylvia. The California State Athletic Commission has also medically suspended Emelianenko for a precautionary 180-day period pending a doctor’s evaluation, though Sherdog.com could not yet confirm the extent of Emelianenko’s injuries.
Arlovski's management also shot down recent speculation that Affliction has asked its fighters to take pay cuts following their well received, but expensive July 19 card. "Banned" featured a handful of the world's top heavyweights, though the promotion paid for it with a roster that cost them anywhere between 4-6 million dollars, well above the industry standard. Arlovski earned 750 thousand dollars for his July 19 victory against Ben Rothwell.
Arlovski left the U.S. last Saturday to do his part in a USO tour traveling to Japan. The adopted Chicago native will visit troops stationed at U.S. Marine bases throughout the Land of the Rising Sun, and will return in two weeks to begin his training camp against the capable Barnett.
Arlovski’s new assignment will most likely squash the aspiring pugilist’s pro boxing debut, which was rumored to have taken place on the undercard of an Oscar DeLa Hoya-promoted Sept. 13 card. Arlovski’s management declined to comment on the potential boxing match, though the fluid striker has been under the tutelage of famed boxing instructor Freddie Roach for the last few months at his Wild Card gym in Los Angeles.
The extra-curricular studies paid off for Arlovski on July 19, as he unloaded an aggressive tirade of jabs, straights, and fatal uppercuts en route to his early third-round TKO over former IFL heavyweight knockout artist Ben Rothwell. The victory capped a four-fight win streak for former UFC heavyweight champion Arlovski, who rebounded from back-to-back losses to Sylvia in 2006. Unable to come to terms on a new contract with the promotion, Arlovski walked away from the famed Octagon in June after eight years of service and a whopping fourteen appearances inside of it.
Barnett, who captured the UFC heavyweight championship from legend Randy Couture with a second-round TKO at UFC 36 in March 2002, was stripped of the accolade after testing positive for steroids following the victory. Unable to prove his innocence to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Barnett -- the UFC’s youngest champion ever at the age of 24 -- was suspended for a year and never returned to the organization.
The move has done little to slow down Barnett, who continued to face and beat notable talent in Japan’s Pride Fighting Championships, which has included K-1 champion Mark Hunt, judo Olympians Hidehiko Yoshida and Pawel Nastula, and Emelianenko’s younger brother Aleksander Emelianenko. Barnett has dropped only two of his last ten bouts, succumbing to formidable striker Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and current UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who Barnett had previously bested in 2006.
A popular figure in Japan, the 30-year old Barnett also shares his time as a pro wrestler for various promotions.
Tagged: On The Mat