Anaheim, Calif. – During Saturday night’s “Day of Reckoning” event presented by Affliction Entertainment and M-1 Global, Andrei Arlovski became the fifth former UFC champion to fall to current WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko.
In front of over 13,000 fight fans in attendance at the Honda Center, Emelianenko countered a flying knee attempt by Arlovski with a big right that knocked the Belarussia native to the canvas at 3:14 of round 1, forcing referee John McCarthy to call a stop to the fight while Arlovski lay momentarily unconscious.
In the weeks and months leading up to the fight, famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who helped prepare Arlovski for last night’s title fight, questioned Fedor’s standup technique while Arlovski also questioned Fedor’s confidence due to a November loss during the World Combat Sambo Championships in Russia.
In the end, neither Fedor’s confidence or standup skills were an issue with actually both having proved to keys to the stunning first round knockout. After being rocked by a kick to the body, the former PRIDE heavyweight champion appeared to be in trouble.
Sensing that his prey was vulnerable, the 6’3” Arlovski went airborne in order to try and finish Emelianenko with a flying knee. Displaying tremendous poise, Fedor countered the high-risk maneuver with the big right that will be featured on highlight reels for weeks and months to come.
Arlovski now joins an illustrious list of former UFC heavyweight champions beaten by Emelianenko that also includes Kevin Randleman, Tim Sylvia, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Mark Coleman. The knockout also served as additional ammunition against critics such as UFC President Dana White that contend that Emelianenko has avoided facing top competition in recent years.
In requiring just 36 seconds to submit Sylvia during Affliction’s “Banned” event this past July and only 194 seconds to knock out Arlovski, Emelianenko’s recent display of dominance could also re-open the debate regarding the “pound-for-pound” best fighter in the world, an unofficial designation that many feel is currently held by UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Emelianenko, now 29-1, could receive an opportunity to add a sixth former UFC heavyweight champion to his resume following Josh Barnett’s third round submission victory over former PRIDE heavyweight Gilbert Yvel during “Day of Reckoning’s” co-main event.
Barnett utilized his takedown ability to control Yvel on the ground for much of the fight. With the exception of several rallies by Yvel, Barnett exhibited most of the offense in the fight and forced the Amsterdam native to tap to punches at 3:05 of round 3.
Leading up to the fight, Affliction organizers were quoted as saying that the winner of the Barnett vs. Yvel heavyweight title would be in line to fight the winner of Fedor vs. Arlovski. While no bout agreements have been signed, sources have revealed to FiveOuncesOfPain.com that the potential Fedor vs. Barnett matchup is already in the works to take place in May or June.
In addition to wins by Emelianenko and Barnett, “Day of Reckoning” also featured a brutal knockout by former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort against Matt Lindland at 37 seconds of round 1. The victory was Belfort’s second as a middleweight and comes on the heels of his second round knockout over Terry Martin during Affliction’s first event in July.
Lindland laid motionless in the ring for several minutes after the scary knockout, prompting EMTs to rush to ringside with a stretcher. However, a wobbly Lindland waived the stretcher off and eventually walked out of the Arena’s bowl with the assistance of his trainers. After the show, Lindland was seen as the official event hotel in the lobby signing autographs and chatting with fans.
Once considered a consensus top ten light heavyweight, Belfort will likely begin to garner consideration as a top ten middleweight. The win over Lindland is Belfort’s fourth straight with James Zikic and current UFC fighter Ivan Serati also having been beaten by the 32-year old Brazilian.