Earlier this afternoon, the t-shirt company turned MMA promoter, Affliction, kicked off its whirlwind media tour for Affliction: "Trilogy" from the Trump Towers in New York, New York.
It’s an appropriate name for the promotion’s third, and according to Vice President Tom Atencio, not final show. All the suits and t-shirts were in attendance for the formal announcement, from Atencio to Donald Trump to HDNet President Mark Cuban.
Naturally, several of the fighters slated to compete on the card, which is booked for the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Aug. 1, were also in the building. Main event participants Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko and Josh "The Babyfaced Assassin" Barnett, were situated near the podium. And Gegard Mousasi and Renato "Babalu" Sobral -- the two men who will compete in the co-main event -- were located nearby.
Overall, the event was standard fare with the photo-op providing one of the lighter moments of the afternoon. As Emelianenko and Barnett worked their poses for the camera crew, Barnett, in response to someone in the crowd, yelled, "No I am not going to kiss him (Fedor)." The Russian smiled in response as the two friends continued their less than menacing-looking stare down.
While both fighters hammed it up a little for the camera, they both spoke of the seriousness of the match. Barnett was the first to add this commentary to the historic fight:
"This is a fight that a lot of people have been expecting for a long time, the press and fans alike … fighters as well. Make no bones about it, just because we are friends doesn’t mean we aren’t taking this fight seriously. This will be a serious endeavor. Because of the nature of this bout, the mutual respect we have for each other and our status as professional fighters, this fight needs to live up to a greater expectation than any other heavyweight bout that I can think of in MMA history. "
Fedor followed, but was (typically) much briefer in his eloquence:
"I would like to thank Josh -- he is a friend … a true friend. I am very happy we will be able to meet in the ring and give everyone a wonderful show."
The questions that will now be asked by fans and pundits alike: Can the less popular American in Barnett actually mount a serious offensive to thwart the seemingly unstoppable Russian "Cyborg"? Will Affliction be able to survive past a third fight card? And if so, who can they feed to Fedor next if he can topple Barnett?
The MMA world waits for answers that will only be revealed little less than two months from today.
Thanks to Sports Action Network for the great photographs of the Affliction: "Trilogy" press conference.