The weekend that MMA fans have long awaited for is finally here.  In what was supposed to be the debut of Affliction’s fighting organization on the main stage, is now a competition between Free UFC fights on Spike and the stacked Affliction card on PPV.  We here at the Sports Brief will take you through each and every fight going on this weekend.  Rich Keefe covers the Affliction card, with his take on the UFC main event, while Tristan Besse breaks down UFC Fight Night 14 and also weighs in on Fedor vs. Sylvia.  Rather than ripping on Dana White for hurting the sport, we’ll just give you our picks. 

Affliction: Banned 

Preliminary bouts: 

J.J. Ambrose def. Mike Pyle via submission in the 1 st round

Aleksander Emelianenko def. Paul Buentello via decision

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Edwin Dewees via submission in the 1 st round

Vitor Belfort def. Terry Martin via (T)KO in the 3 rd round

Ray Lizama def. Justin Levens via decision

Mark Hominick def. Savant Young via (T)KO in the 2 nd round  

Only on PPV: 

Babalu Sobral vs. Mike Whitehead

Babalu is one of the best submission fighters in the game.  In his 29 victories, 16 have come via submission, including a guillotine choke on Shogun Rua.  He has faced the best fighters in the world including Fedor, Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson, Kevin Randleman, and the aforementioned Shogun.  Whitehead on the other hand enters the ring with a 12 fight win streak.  He’s fought a lot at heavyweight in his career, but this one is at 205.  Babalu’s ground game will be too much for him, and there will no lucky 13 for Whitehead. 

Babalu def. Whitehead via submission in the 2 nd round    

Matt Lindland vs. Fabio Negao

Matt “The Law” Lindland may be Anderson Silva’s toughest test at 185, but we’re not going to see that fight, thank you Dana White.  In his last 11 fights Lindland has lost twice, to Fedor and Rampage, not bad.  But he has not had a fight since April of 2007.  There will be some ring rust for sure.  Negao never fought in the UFC or Pride and hasn’t faced anyone like Lindland.  He could really put himself on the map with this huge upset, but I don’t see that happening.  

Lindland def. Negao via (T)KO in the 2 nd round    

Josh Barnett vs. Pedro Rizzo

Two guys here who each fought Randy Couture for the heavyweight title during his first reign.  Rizzo could never beat The Natural while Barnett did win, but was disqualified after testing positive for steroids.  It’s also a rematch as this two men squared off in the UFC octagon back in February of 2001.  Rizzo earned a KO victory in the 2 nd.  Pedro “The Rock” last saw action in the fall of ’07 while Barnett is 2-0 in ’08.  I think Barnett has a lot to prove and would love to face the winner of the Fedor fight at the next Affliction show.  Surprisingly Barnett and Fedor never crossed paths in Pride.  Barnett split two fights with current UFC interim heavy weight champ Big Nog, lost 3 times to Cro Cop, and defeated Mark Hunt and Aleksander Emelianenko. 

Barnett def. Rizzo via submission in the 1 st round    

Andrei Arlovski vs. Ben Rothwell

Rothwell is riding an impressive 13 fight win streak, including all 9 of his fights in the IFL.  Equally impressive will be his near 25 pound weight advantage over the Pit Bull.  Arlovski just another disgruntled former UFC champion and star turned new Affliction poster boy.  After beating Fabricio Werdum, Arlovski has 1 fight remaining on his contract, so Dana put him on the under card where he beat Jake O’Brien.  Way to treat a former champ.  Tons of intriguing match ups in the heavyweight division here in Affliction, and with a great performance Andrei could find himself headlining the next event. 

Arlovski def. Rothwell via (T)KO in the 3 rd round       

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Sylvia

This is it.  Fedor is fighting a top of the line heavyweight for the first time since back in December of 2006, when he submitted Mark Hunt.  Fedor has just 1 loss in his amazing career and it was in 2000, just his 3 rd pro fight.  The list of fighters he has beat is long and incredible, (Ricardo Arona, Babalu, Heath Herring, Big Nog (2), Mark Coleman (2), Kevin Randleman, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, and Matt Lindland.)  This guy is for real. 

Sylvia’s last fight was for the UFC’s interim heavyweight championship against Big Nog.  He lost by submission, but it was one of the more entertaining fights by Big Tim in quite a while.  He’s even admitted to just trying to not lose fights, thus watching him just push around a smaller opponent for 3-5 rounds and raising his arm to a chorus of boos.  Well know he knows he is fighting the best.  Really doesn’t have a thing to lose here. 

Affliction needs this to be an awesome “Fight of the Year” type of fight that people will be talking about long after it’s over.  Sylvia is tough to read.  He could deliver that kind of fight, or he could just lumber around the ring until getting caught in a submission.  I think it will be somewhere in between.  It’ll be exciting, but ultimately Sylvia will get caught, and lose via submission like he has against other great ground fighters like Big Nog and Frank Mir. 

Fedor def. Sylvia via submission in the 2 nd round

UFC Fight Night 14 

Preliminary bouts: 

Shannon Gugerty def. Dale Hartt via submission in the 1 st round

Brad Blackburn def. James Giboo via (T)KO in the 2 nd round

Nate Loughran def. Johnny Rees via decision

Rory Markham def. Brodie Farber via (T)KO in the 3 rd round

Tim Credeur def. Cale Yarbrough via submission in the 2 nd round  

Only on SpikeTV: 

Jesse Taylor v. CB Dolloway

This is basically a match pitting two outstanding wrestlers with highly credible collegiate resumes against one another. That being said, my thought from TUF7 was that Jesse Taylor was a one-dimensional fighter. He was too big and too strong for anyone to handle his wrestling, and he essentially held people down while inflicting enough ground and pound to prevent the referee from standing it back up. CB Dolloway is just as strong a wrestler, so I expect his takedown defense to be very technical and effective in avoiding Taylor’s wrath. Dolloway should be able to keep this on the feet long enough to land some strikes and earn a 29-28 decision. I think at some point Taylor will get him down and ride out a round. 

CB Dolloway by unanimous decision

Anthony Johnson v. Kevin Burns  

Has anyone else seen “Rumble” Johnson’s two wins via KO in the UFC? They were both exciting, and he reminds me of a Melvin Guillard at welterweight. Kevin Burns scored a shocking submission victory over Roan Carneiro in his UFC debut, but “Rumble” seems to have a bit more ring acumen than Guillard. If he puts Burns on his back, he’ll have the ref stand him right back up. I think Johnson will absolutely light up the arena on Saturday night with a sensational KO that elevates him up the rankings in a flash. If he blows away Burns like I expect him too, I’d actually encourage Joe Silva to pit him against Josh Koscheck and see where that one goes. 

Anthony Johnson via KO in 1 st round  

Cain Velasquez v. Jake O’Brien  

Interesting match-up here. Velasquez is being touted as the second coming of Christ in the heavyweight division. In fact his trainer has been quoted as saying he could defeat Randy Couture RIGHT NOW and needs only a year before he can take out Fedor. Wow. That’s some mighty high praise. O’Brien, meanwhile, seems to be a UFC whipping boy. He was brought in to be a cake walk for Heath Herring, but shocked a live SpikeTV audience. Then he was injured, then later brought in as an opponent for former champ Andrei Arlovski. That went as planned, and O’Brien was released again, only to be brought back as an opponent for Velasquez. The little I’ve seen of Cain is impressive. This guy is great on his feet and also has a solid wrestling pedigree. O’Brien won’t have the tools to compete, as he’s a one-dimensional guy with his wrestling. 

Cain Velasquez by (T)KO in the 1 st round  

Hermes Franca v. Frankie Edgar  

Edgar is coming off his first professional loss, a bout in which he was outwrestled and outstruck by Gray Maynard. Franca, meanwhile, returns from his suspension after testing positive for steroids in the same title bout that Sherk tested positive. How about that! Edgar is a wrestler who pounds out decision victories, while Franca is a tested veteran with 11 submission wins to his credit. Look for Edgar to take this fight to the ground, only to have Franca catch him in a submission. 

Hermes Franca via 2 nd round submission  

Brandon Vera v. Reese Andy  

The light heavyweight debut for Vera and the UFC debut for Andy. I don’t think the weight cut will be a factor for Vera, as he walks around at 225 and fights around 215. He’s just so athletic and solid with his striking that he was able to hang with the heavyweights. Andy, meanwhile, is just a name to me. I’ve never seen the guy fight nor do I claim to know anything about him, except what his Fight Finder page on Sherdog tells me. He’s an IFL lifer with a bunch of decision wins. I think Vera will make a statement here, but I also don’t know if his stay in this division will last long. He wants to avenge his loss to Verdum, and with Frank Mir getting a title shot – a guy that Vera destroyed – he has some issues to resolve with the heavyweights. 

Vera by decision

Main Event  

Anderson Silva v. James Irvin  

The light heavyweight debut for Anderson Silva, as well! Imagine if they had Silva and Vera debut AGAINST each other. I should have Joe Silva’s job. Anyway, Irvin is a dangerous striker, no doubt about it, but he’s fighting arguably the most technical striker in the world, pound for pound. This is the middleweight champ who destroyed a former 205-pounder (Rich Franklin) twice, as well as Dan Henderson, who cut from 205 to contend for the UFC crown. Silva is moving up in weight, and while I don’t know how much stronger he’ll be because of it; his striking will be quicker than Irvin’s. And if this goes to the ground, lest we forget that Silva is a dangerous submission guy with a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Irvin, meanwhile, just blew away one of the more feared strikers in the division in Houston Alexander. He finished “The Assassin” in a record-tying eight seconds, which is impressive considering Alexander seemed to have a strong chin up to that point. Ten of Irvin’s wins have come by some form of a KO, so he’s definitely game. This will be explosive for sure. 

Silva by T(KO) late in the 1 st round  

Besse's take on the Main Event of Affliction: Banned  

Fedor is the pound for pound best on some experts rankings, while Sylvia is the former UFC champ who has come under fire lately for his passive nature in the ring. As Keefe said, he’s admitted to just trying not to lose fights. But I was actually impressed with Big Tim in his last fight against Nogueira for the interim UFC Heavyweight title. He was aggressive, controlled the fight on the feet, and was dominating the Big Nog until he got caught with a sick submission in the 3 rd round. Sylvia has a distinct height and reach advantage, much like he did against Randy Couture back in March of 2007. But he’s a different fighter. 

Fedor, meanwhile, has been inactive lately having fought twice in ’06 and twice in ’07. This is first tilt in ’08. His last win was against that giant Hong Man Choi, who also happened to be a tomato can. He fought three name opponents prior to that (Lindland, Coleman and Mark Hunt), but Lindland fought up two weight classes, Coleman is overrated and Hunt is a K-1 guy. Sylvia is clearly his toughest test in a long, long time. 

I think Sylvia will come out much in the same way he did against Nog, using his jab and aggressively mixing in nice combinations trying to pepper Fedor. Sylvia has a great, great sprawl, and his long, lanky build causes problems for guys on top of him. If he knocks down Fedor, I don’t think he makes the same mistake as he did against Nog. He’ll certainly try and finish the fight, but if Fedor comes to and regains his composure, look for Sylvia to back off and stand it back up. I’ll be shocked if he gets submitted again. I’m picking the upset… 

Sylvia via decision    

Keefe’s take on the Main Event at UFC Fight Night 14

Anderson Silva has just decimated the middleweight division.  Hendo, Franklin, Leben, it doesn’t matter.  Bringing the Spider up to fight some of the guys from the loaded light heavyweight division makes some sense to me.  And why not have this spectacle go up against the Affliction card.  Well I’m not sold on James Irvin.  Sure he has knockout power, but he is not a Top 10 guy in the division, and maybe not Top 15.  If Silva fought a Soko, Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva, Wanderlei, Jardine, or even Vera as Besse mentioned, I would be tempted to watch the UFC live.  But I’m not.  Silva should smoke this guy like everyone else since he’s stepped into the octagon. 

Silva def. Irvin via (T)KO in the 1 st round

-Rich Keefe & Tristan Besse

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