As was leaked by MMAWeekly, Gomi had been in talks with Affliction to participate in their Trilogy event in August. To most, this could have been a great addition to a card that already had star power on it, while trying to manage their budget. But, did Affliction have something else in mind when they were trying to put Gomi on the card? Lets take a closer look at Afflictions move for their upcoming Trilogy card.
More after the jump...
Japan A Key for Affliction Trilogy?
Gomi has already mentioned that he is looking to fight in America very soon, and is in talks with Affliction and the UFC. He also wishes to fight in the newly announced Vale Tudo Japan promotion springing up soon, so Gomi signing with a promotion that offers a non-exclusive contract would seem to be a definite plus, which Affliction and Strikeforce can offer.
So, why would Affliction be trying to put Gomi on its card without having any real opponents for him at the time? Rumors are that Affliction may offer Affliction Trilogy as a PPV option for Japan via SkyPerfecTV. Straight from Japan:
In M-1 global Video blog, Fedor and G.MUSASHI's TV CM training is uploaded, In this training,Fedor and MUSASHI said "Affliction ha Skaper de"(In English," Please watch Affliction in skyperfecTV ")
It means this event is broadcasted in japan PPV, This is big news, FEDOR VS JOSH BARNETT is the best match, for japanese MMA fan. if we can watch realtime show, this is happy.
Now that Affliction Trilogy may appear on SkyPerfecTV (which is how the Sengoku PPV's and previous PRIDE PPV's were offered to Japanese MMA fans), it changes the perspective of the Trilogy lineup.
Fedor Emelianenko vs Josh Barnett
This bout will be the main event on this card, which is probably one of the biggest HW fights in recent history for Japanese MMA. This is the PRIDE HW bout that everyone was waiting for during the PRIDE glory days, and can now finally be realized. This fight should have some major draw and attention from Japan.
Gegard Mousasi vs Renato "Babalu" Sobral
Mousasi made his name in PRIDE, and is now doing it in K-1 and DREAM, where he won the MW GP after defeating Denis Kang, Melvin Manhoef and Jacare to become the DREAM MW Champ. He is currently competing in the Super Hulk tourney, recently defeating another popular Japanese fighter, Mark Hunt via submission. He will fight Sokoudjou in the Tourney semi-finals later on this year, and could potentially take his second Japanese tourney in a row. He also competed in K-1, disposing of four-time K-1 Japan GP champion Musashi on the NYE show. His popularity is defnitely on the rise. Babalu also has a name in Japan, fighting some legendary fighters in the Ring organization like Fedor and Tamura. He also has a win over Shogun Rua.
Jorge Santiago vs Vitor Belfort
Jorge Santiago has made the most out of his opportunities after his UFC stint. He competed and won the Strikeforce MW tourney, by defeating Sean Salmon and Trevor Prangley. He followed that up by competing in the Sengoku MW Tourney, in which he beat Yuki Sasaki, Logan Clark, Siyar Bahadurzada, Kazuhiro Nakamura, and Kazuo Misaki. Hes the current Sengoku MW champion and will be looking to defend his title at the end of the year for Sengoku. Vitor Belfort also has some name value in Japan as well, having competed in numerous PRIDE bouts with the likes of Dan Henderson, Kazushi Sakuraba, Alistair Overeem, and Heith Herring.
Affliction's ability to have Fedor (PRIDE HW Champ), Mousasi (DREAM MW Champ), and Jorge Santiago (SENGOKU MW Champ) on the card would definitely pique some interest from Japan. So, the Gomi potential signing makes some sense, and Japan would be another revenue stream for Affliction besides the American PPV purchases. On the other hand, adding someone like Cro Cop would also give them a big boost as well. Alsthough, we will have to take into account that Japanese PPV's get a small fraction of buys than the PPV's here in America, but increasing revenue streams is always a plus for a promotion who wants to limit the amount of losses aggregated from their previous shows. There is also some interest in holding an event in Japan on Affliction's part (via co-promotion), so this would be a good way to break into the market as well. Atencio gave this subtle hint in a recent Fighters Only magazine interview:
He added that Fedor-Barnett "was the fight that a lot of overseas people wanted and that I as a fan wanted to see. We will have to take it after that, each fight as it comes. Right now there are some people out there that are interested, whether they are notable opponents for Fedor or not, I don't know, we'll have to see."
Dana Stirring the Pot With Affliction?
From FightLine, we get some interesting quotes from Tom Atencio after being asked what his thoughts were about Dana's interest of Vitor Belfort in the UFC, after the infamous TUF Finale announcement:
"[White] did say something [about Belfort]," Atencio told us about White’s recruiting tactics. "I’m talking to [Belfort’s] management, so we’re in negotiations. Where Dana came up with that, I don’t know. Maybe he’s just trying to stir the pot. That’s what he does and he does it well."
The conversation even swayed towards other major sports, where if an owner openly discusses wanting a player under contract with an opposing team, that owner could be fined for tampering.
"Maybe he wants to get hit with a tampering charge," Atencio jokingly told us about what he thought White’s motives were. "I just don’t know, I can’t speak for Dana. I’m sure he just wants to stir the pot, like I said."
FightLinker has some interesting opinions on this matter:
Depending on the terms of Vitor Belfort’s contract, the UFC may indeed be opening the door to a lawsuit - not that they care. We’ve talked many times about the UFC’s army of lawyers and I don’t doubt Dana would actually be pleased to burn more of Affliction’s money in court. In the past, the UFC has held a firm "We don’t mess around with fighters under contract with other promotions", but I guess that’s out the window, at least when it comes to Affliction.
From what I have heard, Vitor apparently met with Dana in Los Angeles while Affliction and Tom Atencio were in negotiations with Vitors management, which if the contract has the correct wording, could be considering tampering, although I doubt anything would materialize since Tom seems to be joking a bit. Just as no one was able to negotiate with Tito after leaving the UFC last year, I believe the same rule will apply to Vitor Belfort. Even if Vitor does decide to fight for the UFC after his third Affliction fight, there will be a renegotiation period on his contract that won't allow him to compete in any upcoming UFC fights. If Vitor signs with the UFC, it would most likely be months (maybe 2010) before he could fight for the promotion. In either case, many like MMAFanhouse seem to think that all the clues lead Vitor to the UFC.
Affliction Already Sold Over $145K in Tickets, Overeem Next For Fedor?
Tom Atencio told Fighters Only Magazine that Affliction Trilogy has already sold over $145K worth of tickets for their August event.
Affliction's MMA wing has been dogged from day one by rumours of its impending demise, but Atencio says ticket sales for Affliction 3 are looking promising. "Ticket sales have been great, I think from the first day of sales - just through our in-house accounts and Ticketmaster - we sold over $145,000 in tickets, something like that," he said. "This card is even better than the last two cards and of course we want growth and we are putting more into our marketing. that's the plan, whether its gonna happen or not... I don't have a crystal ball, its hard to say. " "Our brand is doing extremely well and MMA as a whole is doing extremely well despite the economy so we are just moving forward and looking at how we can improve on our last event."
He also proclaimed once again, of the great relationship he has with Strikeforce and Scott Coker and their willingness to share their fighters, as well as the possibility of Fedor vs Overeem in the future.
Asked if Strikeforce heavyweight champion Overeem might be an option given the recent co-operation between his Affliction and Strikeforce, he replied enigmatically: "We have a great relationship with Strikeforce and we are continuing that. "We share fighters with them and they share fighters with us so I see it as a long term thing that we are going to be doing with them."
Tom Atencio Looking To Book Another Big Fight For Trilogy
Here is his latest comments about trying to finalize the last 3 fights in the card:
8CN: Tom, give me something about the fight we haven't heard about yet.
Tom: Unfortunately I think I've laid it all out there already. I am working on a big fight that would be between two different weight classes. Big names.