It's now time to talk a little Affliction: "Banned" action, which took place last night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., before a solid -- but not sold out -- crowd.
There's quite a bit to discuss since it was the first-ever show for the clothing company turned mixed martial arts promotion and several of the top heavyweights in the world were booked to compete.
Let's start with the bad or "low lights" of the production. And I mean that quite literally.
It was a dark atmosphere for most of the evening. At times it seemed like the fights were taking place within a smoky saloon on the outskirts of a far-off town. In addition, the camera angles seemed distant. And because the ring was absolutely MASSIVE it was hard to feel a part of the action.
The audio was low and it was sometimes hard to hear the announcing team, which was good but not great. Jay Glazer didn't do a horrible job; however, he doesn't have that pop in his delivery like a Mike Goldberg or Mauro Ranallo -- the kind of pop that gets you excited for a fight even if it's a sleeper.
Ring announcer Michael Buffer was great as usual. In-ring post-fight interviewer and color commentator, Big "John" McCarthy, was serviceable.
The ring entrances and filler video need some work. Megadeth was cool to open the show, but after that it just gave me more time to use the restroom or flip over and see what was going on over at Spike TV. Most if not all fans would rather see fights (not all of them made the broadcast) instead of an aging heavy metal band.
Overall, it was an average showing in regard to production. Not bad for a "T-shirt" guy and his crew putting on their debut show. But flipping back-and-forth between pay-per-view (PPV) and Spike TV showed that the differences are night and day.
Now it's time for the good.
I was nearly asleep until Josh Barnett woke everybody up with that sensational stoppage of Pedro Rizzo. It looked like it was going to be a technical battle with neither fighter really laying it all on the line. Then, "The Baby Face Assassin" exploded with a left hook that dropped the Brazilian.
Barnett charged in to finish him off, but the damage was done. "The Rock" was out cold, like, well, a rock.
Andrei Arlovski and Ben Rothwell followed quickly thereafter and continued to maintain the energy that Barnett and Rizzo unleashed. Arlovski -- who has been training with boxing training savant, Freddy Roach -- looked sharp and powerful throughout the fight.
Rothwell hung in there and did land some nice shots. But rather than retreating and circling (he had so much room with which to work if he wanted) like Arlovski has done in his recent past when he meets resistance, he instead fired back and beat up the Miletich product.
"The Pitbull" appears to be back and ferocious one again -- that combination to end the bout in the third round was brutal. Watch out.
And then there was the main event between Fedor Emelianenko and Tim Sylvia.
The Russian came out guns blazing as if his intentions were to silence the critics -- UFC President Dana White chief among them -- as soon as possible. And he did just that, taking a page out of Randy Couture's playbook and storming the giant with a barrage of well-placed haymakers that found there mark.
Sylvia dropped and the wily Sambo specialist pounced, sinking in a rear naked choke and winning the inaugural WAMMA heavyweight strap.
Fedor made it look easy ... something he has been doing his entire career. He doesn't even seem to put any effort into his expressions or behavior. He's pretty much even-keeled regardless of the situation, whether it's fighting former champions or feeding some white ducks.
He's the man. And hopefully a fight with Barnett is on the horizon. Randy Couture was brought in the ring after the win likely to hype up a match between the two legends. But this writer has little to no interest seeing that match up before a Fedor-Barnett showdown.
That's a fight that should have happened several years ago. And one that should happen sooner rather than later.
Congratulations to Vitor Belfort for his knockout win over Terry Martin. The former UFC champion looked fantastic at 185 pounds. It took him a little while to get going, but when he did he did it right. That was a great fight-ending finish. It's too bad Martin's chin got abused again ... he demonstrated some much improved boxing technique.
And nice job by Mark Hominick submitting a very tough Savant Young. I didn't see that one coming -- I didn't expect him to win much less pull off a submission.
Even though there were a handful of good fights, it was clearly the "Big Three" that saved this show -- Barnett, Arlovski and Fedor. Any promotion would be thrilled to have the trio as its cornerstones. And it would behoove Affliction to market the hell out of them for the next show.
I'd buy it ... again.
To check out Affliction "Banned" results and blow-by-blow coverage click here.