Affliction MMA today pulled the trigger on its sophomore effort, "Day of Reckoning," from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. And what a difference a six months can make -- it was night and day compared to the debut show, "Banned," on July 19 ... literally.
The debut event seemed like it took place in a dingy college fraternity basement under a black light, complete with painful delays between fights and set to a sorry heavy metal soundtrack.
The production was much cleaner, brighter and faster. And the mixed martial arts action, for the most part, flowed like the river Nile.
Okay, it wasn't that spectacular, but it was a significant improvement. So, too, were the fights.
WAMMA Heavyyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko put his title and mythic reputation on the line against his stiffest competition in more than three years, Andrei Arlovski, in the main event of the evening.
He didn't disappoint, but it was not without the typical cold blooded and calm demeanor we have come to expect from the Russian.
"The Pitbull" was confident and appeared to be on his way to an early upset in the opening minutes of round one. He clearly won the stand up and appeared to have Emelianenko in trouble after several well-placed strikes founds their marks.
Emelianenko, as usual, weathered the storm and stayed eerily cool under pressure. And when Arlovski had him cornered and rocked, he was somehow able to knockout the Belarussian in midair with a right hook as he attempted a flying knee.
Arlovski was unconscious before he hit the canvas in a surreal scene. Once again, Emelianenko delivers the goods and stops a former UFC heavyweight champion for the second consecutive time.
Why not go for three in a row?
Josh Barnett and Gilbert Yvel threw down in the co-featured fight of the night. And it lived up to its billing despite critics who questioned whether or not the "Dirty Dutchman" was worthy of such a high profile position.
Yvel -- who self admittedly has a lackluster ground game -- did all he could to survive the smothering and relentless attack of the former UFC heavyweight champion. It appeared that Barnett had him all but finished on numerous occasions, reigning down vicious blows from full mount, but he demonstrated great heart and held on longer than this writer expected.
He is one tough dude. But toughness alone is not enough to topple a world class fighter such as Barnett. "The Baby Faced Assassin" was absolutely dominant and had to wonder how he could not put away the resilient kickboxer sooner.
But his time came midway through the third round when Yvel could no longer endure the punishment and tapped out because of strikes. It would have been sweeter to see the fight stopped by the referee and save Yvel a little face, but there was no shame in his performance tonight.
It was an exciting fight and a big win for Barnett. That's because now the catch wrestler earned a dream fight against his old friend and current WAMMA Heavyweight Champion, Fedor Emelianenko.
Literally just as soon as Tito Ortiz got finished talking about how Matt Lindland is among the top 185-pound fighters in the world, Vitor Belfort dropped the Team Quest fighter with a devastating short left hook seconds into round one.
Lindland -- dazed and terribly confused -- tried to recover by grabbing a leg, but the Brazilian seized the opportunity and annihilated Lindland with follow-up strikes. "The Phenom" soon had his opponent stiff as a board out cold twitching on the canvas. Fortunately, the referee in charge of the action stepped in to save the Olympic silver medalist from further abuse.
It's hard to tell what was scarier -- Lindland's long journey back to consciousness or Belfort's sudden emergence as a wrecking machine in the middleweight class.
Let's just hope he doesn't fizzle like Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.
The Cameroonian burst onto the scene back in the Pride FC heyday with impressive knockout wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona. He hasn't lived up to the hype ever since ... and tonight was no different.
The Team Quest-trained fighter once again came out strong, but could not maintain the momentum against the dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu stylist, and current Strikeforce 205-pound champion, Renato "Babalu" Sobral.
The UFC veterans battled up and down for most of the first round. And it appeared to be a solid evenly matched affair heading into the second stanza.
It didn't last long.
"Babalu" got him on his back early in round two and, as history proves, that's pretty much half the battle. He sunk in a fight-ending choke, sending Soku to La La Land and handing him his third loss in four fights.
All in all "Day of Reckoning" was a fantastic night of fights. There was a lot on the line for not only several of the fighters, but for the future of the promotion, too. It was a huge step in the right direction and hopefully one that keeps the organization moving forward in the days and months ahead.
For complete results and blow-by-blow commentary of the main card fights click here. Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for everything you need to know in connection with Affliction: "Day of Reckoning."