If Affliction Entertainment has mastered one aspect in the art of promoting combat sports, it has been an ability to spend money and assemble stacked fight cards.
After a star-studded “Banned” event this past July, tonight’s “Day of Reckoning” lineup is as deep if not deeper than the promotion’s inaugural event.
Headlining the show will be a WAMMA heavyweight title defense by Fedor Emelianenko against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.
Arlovski will attempt to hand Emelianenko his first true defeat. While competing in the Japan-based Rings promotion in 2000, Emelianenko was TKO’d against former UFC veteran Tsuyoshi Koshaka after suffering a cut. The rules of the promotion at the time dictated that a fight had to be called to an immediate stop once a competitor had suffered a laceration. While his official record is listed as 28-1, Fedor has yet to experience being knocked out, TKO’d, or submitted in an MMA fight.
Much has been made leading up to this fight regarding Arlovski’s work with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach. Roach has been quoted as making critical comments regarding Fedor’s standup technique, which has drawn a negative reaction from MMA purists.
“He’s flat-footed, has no technique,” Roach told SI.com’s Josh Gross last month, before taking a more complimentary tone.
While Roach has rubbed some Fedor fans the wrong way, his ability to help promote a fight cannot be overlooked. In addition to being one of the top trainers in the sport, Roach is also a savvy businessman. His comments brought a spark during the fight’s buildup that was sorely lacking.
Roach no doubt made an impact during Arlovski’s preparations for this fight but too much attention has been paid to his involvement. The 21-year old native of Belarus did not spend his training camp working with Roach on an exclusive basis, as sources have revealed to FiveOuncesOfPain.com that Arlovski spent a great deal of time in Chicago working with Division I wrestlers.
Arlovski’s camp is well aware of just how versatile Fedor is and knew going into the fight that all of his skills would need to be in top shape. In addition to showing strong skills, Arlovski will also need exhibit strong tactical ability. In recent years, Arlovski has adopted a more thought out methodical approach, much to the dismay of some of his fans who preferred his aggressive style that he exibited during his early UFC days.
While Arlovski’s new style may not be as television-friendly, he’s a much better fighter. Following his UFC 59 loss in 2006 to Tim Sylvia in which Arlovski was TKO’d just 2:43 into the fight, he learned that he wasn’t the only hard-hitter in the heavyweight division. By evolving and fighting smarter fights, Arlovski has proven to be a much bigger threat than he ever was during his heavyweight championship reign in the UFC. Fedor is a dangerous opponent and Arlovski will not recklessly open himself up to be knocked out early.
It will benefit Arlovski if he starts out slow and paces himsef. While cardio has never been an issue for Fedor and likely won’t be in this fight, it needs to be noted that Fedor began his camp for this fight in Stary Oskol six weeks ago. That has left him several weeks short of the standard 8-12 week approach that most fighters dedicate to a training camp before a major fight. However, his involvement in filming a motion picture in Thailand and his decision to compete in the World Combat Sambo Championships in Russia in November briefly delayed the start of his camp.
However, being a few weeks short of a full camp isn’t likely going to be a factor in tonight’s contest. Both fighters have the ability to be explosive and finish fights early. Tonight’s contest is a title fight and is scheduled for five rounds but it’s very unlikely that Fedor vs. Arlovski will go the distance.
Fedor could pace himself in the early going but will likely look to make his move to finish Arlovski within the first three minutes of round one. Known for having a strong chin, Fedor can afford to expose his chin to one of Arlovski’s power punches in order to close the range between the two combatants so that he can apply a body lock to Arlovski.
Arvloski is one of the most athletic heavyweights you will find and he has utilized his athletic gifts to develop a strong sprawl. As such, it is not a forgone conclusion that he will get taken down. The problem is that Fedor is not a leg attacker, as much like Randy Couture, he relies on bodylocks in order to initiate upper-body takedowns so that he can ground his opponents.
If Fedor gets inside and wraps his arms around Arlovski’s body, he will utilize his world class Sambo skills to put Arlovski on the mat. While Arlovski’s jiu-jitsu is very underrated, Fedor’s ground and pound will likely prove to be too much. If Arlovski exposes his arm or neck in an attempt to defend Fedor’s punches, Fedor has shown in the past that he’s not opposed to taking the submission.
If Arlovski finds himself on his back, he will need to make sure he stays close to Fedor so that the former PRIDE champion can’t achieve separation in an attempt to put an optimum amount of momentum behind his ground and pound strikes. If Arlovski can force a standup, he will give himself a second chance at life and create the possibility of beating Fedor with his improved standup skills.
If Arlovski is able to force a standup, do not expect Fedor to allow it to effect him mentally. As one of the most collected human beings you will ever see during a violent confrontation, Fedor does not fight with emotion and will not allow outside influences to stand in the way of his achieving his objectives.
No matter how hard Arlovski tries to keep the fight standing, it’s inevitable that Fedor will find a way to ground “The Pitbull” and finish him via TKO, possibly as early as the first round.