Well I have to say that I was very impressed. That was an outstanding card with some really excellent fights. I was also impressed with the presentation. With the exception of the Megadeath performances it really wasn't over the top. In the future if they could just cut out the awkward transitions from rock show to fights I think they have a very bright future. Obviously there were a couple glitches here and there which comes with all first time productions but overall it was an amazing debut by any standard. The fights top to bottom were all great matches. The commentators were solid though there was a little too much editorial. Michael Buffer is a huge step up from Bruce. And overall the production went very smoothly and the quality was very high for first timers. The only quip I had outside of the Megadeath performance was actually announcing the celebrities in attendance as if to validate Affliction's popularity. It seemed a little bush league. UFC points out celebrities too but just in the booth not to the entire audience. Also, if I were Affliction I wouldn't be pointing out any possible ties to the WWE past or present (i.e. Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin). Professional wrestling has no place in MMA as was easily proven when people treated Brock Lesnar like a leper. Those two missteps aside though I thought it was a great night of fights and I would definitely pay to see that again (assuming the talent level is up to par). Let's break down those fights and see how I netted out.
* Side note: my pick for the Paul Buentello fight is nullified by Aleksander Emelianenko not meeting California State Athletic Commission licensing standards. Also, even though I didn't pick the Mike Pyle fight I have to give him props on the most dominating fight of the night outside of Fedor. JJ Ambrose really did not belong in that fight. It was serving lambs to lions.
Savant Young v. Mark Hominick: They both traded some good blows on the feet before Savant got Hominick to the ground where Young was totally outclassed by Mark's BJJ. He had him in multiple arm bar and triangle chokes before finally catching an arm bar to win the fight. This was a very impressive fight for Mark who is known as a great kick boxer. So to showcase his ground game like this was very impressive. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
Vitor Belfort v. Terry Martin: A great stand up war like many (and by many I mean me) knew it would be. They traded some great shots in round 1. They traded some more in round 2 until eventually Vitor caught Terry and Terry was lights out. This was a great showing for Belfort who is now training at Extreme Couture. He appears to be back on his way up the ladder at 205. He looked like he was in great shape again. His hand speed was close to being back to where it was. And he doesn't fight with reckless abandon anymore. He's a much smarter fighter now which is a very dangerous thing for the light heavyweight division. I got the pick right here but not the prediction.
Antonio Rogerio Nogeuira v. Edwin Dewees: This was a very impressive performance for Rogerio. He came out and didn't even bother trying to take Dewees down. He just boxed with him and showed off his considerable prowess on his feet which is very scary combined with his sick ground game. Dewees was totally outclassed on his feet. This is another scary sign for the 205 lb division. I hit the pick and prediction right on the nose on this one.
Renato Sobral v. Mike Whitehead: I think I picked more with my heart and not my head on this one. I know Sobral is a good fighter but I just really didn't want to see him win. While he didn't dominate Whitehead he certainly fought the better fight winning a unanimous decision. He was just better everywhere the fight went even though he couldn't finish Whitehead off (who amazingly outweighed Sobral by at least 30-40 lbs). I was totally wrong on this fight. Chalk it up to heart over head.
Matt Lindland v. Fabio Negao: I was very impressed with Negao who really hung in there especially after getting dropped in the first round. Lindland put on a very impressive performance even garnering one 10-8 vote for his first round. He out boxed and out wrestled Negao to pick up a very solid unanimous decision. If Negao was not such a tough guy and if Lindland had a little more gas I'm guessing the fight would've been over much sooner. So I'll give props to Negao but Lindland is back on the scene at 185. Hopefully he'll start fighting more often (and against his own weight class) and will be a contender in the division again. I got the pick right here but not the prediction.
Josh Barnett v. Pedro Rizzo: This was an amazing fight for Barnett. Granted Rizzo is not the fighter he used to be but Barnett could not have asked for a better result. Fighting back in front of a US audience for the first time in years he put on quite a show. For a guy that's known for his submission grappling he really stood toe to toe with Rizzo and put on a clinic. He took some shots and kept on ticking and dished out plenty of his own punishment in the first round. In the second he caught Rizzo with a great left hook that had Rizzo out on his feet before he hit the mat for an amazing reversal of their first fight where Rizzo KO'd Barnett in the second round. Obviously Barnett loved getting revenge but this was a great tune up fight for (I'm hoping) much bigger and better fights in the future with more top level talent a la Andrei Arlovski. I got the pick right here but not the prediction. And if Affliction gives out KO of the night this has to be it. Lastly, it's hard to argue with his skills in the ring but is it just me or does Barnett seem like a huge douche bag?
Andrei Arlovski v. Ben Rothwell: Wow, is all I have to say about Andrei Arlovski. I thought he'd really lost his way and this would be his swan song for MMA. But he looked more focused and more aggressive than I'd seen him in years. I literally have not seen this Andrei Arlovski since he KO'd Paul Buentello back in 2005. He just took this fight to Ben Rothwell and did not let up for the entire fight. Rothwell's face looked like someone took a meat tenderizer to it. For a guy I considered to be a top 10 heavyweight Rothwell looked so outclassed I was embarrassed for him. He had no answer to the quicker and cleaner Arlovski. I'm not sure why Rothwell insisted on standing up with him. I would've immediately gone for the take down and control the fight while dishing out punishment. I guess Rothwell had something to prove. All he proved though was that he could get KO'd by the much better striker. Amazingly I got the prediction right here but it was just the wrong guy. Oh well, that's the breaks.
Fedor Emelianenko v. Tim Sylvia: This was not a good night for the Miletich camp. First Rothwell gets dominated by Arlovski and then Sylvia can't go 40 seconds with Fedor? Good lord is all I have to say for Fedor. I think a lot of people (myself included) doubted Fedor after questionable competition and considerable time off between fights. But he proved that he is tied for baddest man on the planet with Anderson Silva. I mean Sylvia never had a glimmer of hope. Fedor just came out throwing bombs and dropped Sylvia quick and choked him out with a wrestling style forearm choke. It was just ridiculous. It was like a man against a child (a ginormous child but a child none the less). Fedor is simply an animal. I know Randy Couture wants that fight more than anything but I've got to be honest, Couture has never seen anything like Fedor. If they do ever wind up fighting it will be the real life version of Rocky 4. I really hope it does happen but I'm not going to get my hopes up. In any case, I got the pick right here but not the prediction (I was close though. I got the submission part right, just not the round).
Well that was an amazing night! I was glad I finally got to see some great fighters live for the first time (Fedor, Barnett, and Lindland) and I was actually able to watch every fight except for the Buentello fight (and that was only because the card ran over the allotted 3 hours) because it was televised at midnight here along with the Belfort fight which I was able to watch. I went an impressive 6-2 on the night with bonus points for getting two predictions correct. ESPN if you're listening, Frank Mir is garbage, call me in to pick these fights (just kidding Frank, you're a great commentator, I could just use the money more than you). I can't wait for Affliction's next card and I really hope there is one. It was a great event with great fights. If they cleaned up the show a little it could be right on par with the UFC in terms of fight and production value. If the finances can stay afloat they could be a huge player in MMA. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Affliction!
I'll be watching the UFC Fight Night 14 card today and will post my review tomorrow. So until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...
P.S. One last parting shot: thank you Affliction for keeping Donald Trump's toupee'd loud mouth ass of a personality off the airwaves!