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UFC announces official collaboration with Affliction; plans July 31 press conference

Who says you can't go home again?

Affliction MMA reportedly burned plenty of money after becoming fight promoters a little over year ago -- though it looks as if they haven't burned any bridges.

If they have, the UFC got those puppies rebuilt in a matter of hours.

Affliction Entertainment and The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced yesterday (July 24) an official collaboration that would bring the popular clothing line back into the world's biggest MMA promotion, effectively removing the ban implemented after "The T-shirt Guys" threw their hat into the MMA ring.

From UFC President Dana White:

"We are excited about the return of Affliction to the UFC and look forward to seeing our fighters once again walk into the Octagon wearing the Affliction brands. Affliction is an innovator of mixing fashion with this sport and we are looking forward to working together to promote the sport."

The two sides had been reportedly trying to mend their fences for quite some time, but couldn't seem to agree on acceptable terms for a reunification of brands.

Fortunately for them, Josh Barnett was able to "inject" new life into those negotiations.

Barnett became the Seth Petruzelli of Affliction by helping to destroy a financially crippled organization in one swift move. Instead of knocking out the company poster boy, he knocked himself right out of an upcoming event by failing a random, pre-fight drug test intended to nab users of banned substances before they can cycle off.

By testing positive, "The Babyface Assassin" was denied a license to compete, forcing company officials to scramble for a replacement to headline opposite Fedor Emelianenko at the "Trilogy" event planned for August 1 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Atop of a short list of candidates to fill in was current middleweight contender Vitor Belfort, who was scheduled to face Jorge Santiago that same night, but who also stated he was willing to move up in weight to fight "The Last Emperor."

Dark horse Brett Rogers, fresh off a stunning first round knockout of former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, as well as freelance fighter Jeff Monson were also under consideration.

In the end, Atencio & Co. opted to cancel the event altogether, cut their losses and go back to the proven formula of sponsoring fighters and promoting their clothing line at UFC events.

From Eric Foss, co-founder of Affliction:

"Our brand is synonymous with the 'Live Fast' approach to life and UFC is the perfect venue for us to market our brand. We have come to an agreement with the UFC which we feel will be the best for the sport and will help the UFC continue delivering the highest caliber of fights."

To help make heads or tails of this incredible turn of events, the UFC has tentatively scheduled a press conference on July 31 to cover the new Affliction deal, among other things.

As of today, Tito Ortiz, Affliction Clothing and Kimbo Slice are all property of the UFC, which if I'm not mistaken is three of the seven signs of the apocalypse -- four if you include a certain WWE wrestler who went on to become heavyweight champ.

Anyone taking a guess as to what 2010 might bring?

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