It was all sunshine and happiness for Affliction Entertainment just a few days ago, however Tuesday’s grumblings regarding heavyweight Josh Barnett’s failed pre-fight drug screen turned the MMA world completely upside-down. Here is a look back at what exactly went down the 72 hours leading up to Friday’s official cancellation of “Affliction: Trilogy”.
Tuesday (July 21):
Sherdog.com reported that the California State Athletic Commission would not issue Barnett a license after after the former UFC heavyweight champion tested positive for a banned substance on a screening he took a few weeks back.
MMA fans went to bed that night hoping they wouldn’t awake to the nightmare of having the highly anticipated heavyweight fight between Barnett and WAMMA heavyweight champ Fedor Emelianenko scrapped due to the screen.
Wednesday (July 22):
Affliction VP Tom Atencio confirms Barnett’s failed drug test during a previously scheduled “Affliction: Trilogy” conference call.
Atencio was adamant that Barnett would not be participating in the event in any way as they had already forged ahead looking for a replacement.
Atencio stated that they had narrowed their search down to three fighters, none of which he would mention by name.
The early favorite to stand opposite the Russian was former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, with reports suggesting that he had already signed on the dotted line; internet chatter which Atencio wasn’t ready to commit to.
Belfort was already slated to take on American Top Team stud Jorge Santiago in a light heavyweight matchup on the same pay-per-view event.
Other names rumored were Strikeforce’s Brett Rogers, veterans Paul Buentello, Jeff Monson and former WWE employee Bobby Lashley. Light heavyweight prospect Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal’s name was reportedly thrown around as well.
The CSAC reports that traces of metabolite (2a-methyl-5a-androstan- 3a-ol-17-one), of the anabolic steroid Drostanolone, were found in heavyweight Josh Barnett’s system when he submitted an “Affliction: Trilogy” pre-fight test on June 25th.
Thursday (July 23):
Barnett faces the firing squad via his MySpace page.
“Many of you are wondering what’s happening. What I can say is that when applying for my license, the CSAC asked for me to submit a urine sample for testing prior to granting my license as they do with everyone, I believe.
It was not a random test. I had no reason to believe there would be any issues and went in to submit my sample at the earliest possible opportunity on June 25. I never once thought there would be a problem.
My representatives and I are working to gather as much info as possible and handle this situation as best we can. I am embarrassed and want for nothing more than to resolve this issue and receive a license from the State of California as I have done many times already and for other states as well.
I am very thankful for all the great family, friends and fans that still support me.”
Fedor Emelianenko’s manager and M-1 Global owner, Vadim Finkelchtein, tells a media-packed hall in Moscow that the fans, as well as they, prefer a fight against Rogers inside the Honda Center in Anahiem, California.
“Everyone in the world now wants to see the fight of Fedor, not Barnett,” Finkelchtein said. “People want to see Fedor fight. Belfort can make heavyweight, but the fans don’t want this fight. Fedor isn’t seeking an easy fight. If logistics weren’t an issue, we’d like to see Fedor fight against Brett Rogers. Fans want it, (and) so do we.”
For the first time, Emelianenko talks about the Barnett debacle.
“I feel disappointed about this situation,” Emelianenko saidd about Barnett’s predicament. “But I will fight anyone who Affliction puts in front of me. I know a lot of fans waited for this fight to happen, and I am sorry for them. I can’t do much about it now, but I am in good shape. My training has been good and continues to go well.”
Fedor says that he hadn’t spoken to his old friend yet, however he didn’t envision the topic of conversation to involve steroids once he did.
“We haven’t had a chance to speak to him yet, though I really want to,” Fedor said. “And once we do speak, most probably we will not discuss what has happened in the last day.”
Friday (July 24):
Affliction Entertainment issues a press release officially confirming the cancellation of their third ever mixed martial arts promotion.
“Finding an opponent for the No. 1 ranked MMA heavyweight champion in such a short period of time was a huge endeavor, and I’m thrilled at the amount of fighters willing to take on this challenge,” Atencio stated. “But in the end, we just didn’t have enough time to promote a new fight to our standards.”
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that Affliction Entertainment has agreed to cease all mixed martial arts promotional efforts in order to become an official sponsor for the UFC.
White appears on ESPN 1100 Radiothon and officially announced the UFC’s new agreement with Affliction Clothing.