The Weekly Wrap: Jan. 24 - Jan. 30

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By Jack Encarnacao Jan 31, 2009
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.

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Andrei Arlovski leapt into the air with designs on becoming the first man to put away Fedor Emelianenko. By the time he landed, he'd been rendered just another victim.

The world's top heavyweight countered the former UFC champion's flying knee attempt with an overhand right that sent Arlovski headfirst into the canvas. The unforgettable knockout closed the second pay-per-view event from Affliction, “Day of Reckoning,” on Jan. 24 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The first three minutes of the main event saw Arlovski back the Russian up with competent, crisp boxing, but the bout suddenly morphed into a classic performance by Emelianenko, who has proved most dangerous at the moment he appears vulnerable.

In post-fight comments, Emelianenko said he didn't feel in trouble during the fight, while Arlovksi told Sherdog.com that he paid the price for trying something flashy, a flying knee that didn’t factor into the honed game plan of boxing Emelianenko against the ropes. Focus turned toward a fight between Emelianenko and Josh Barnett after "The Babyfaced Assassin" defeated Gilbert Yvel by third-round submission earlier in the show.

Notables on hand at the Honda Center swarmed the ring after the main event. They included Oscar De La Hoya, who took heat in the boxing community for representing Golden Boy Promotions at the show. Affliction cut a revenue-sharing deal with Golden Boy for assistance in booking the venue, and used its promotional license in setting up the event. A remark by HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant that De La Hoya was paid $5 million to attend the show was shot down by Golden Boy officials and, according to a report by Sherdog.com’s Loretta Hunt, "ticked off" De la Hoya. Merchant later recanted the statement, apparently having confused the total $5 million investment Affliction made in the event for an amount paid only to De La Hoya.

Though official figures are still not available from the California State Athletic Commission, Yahoo Sports reported that Affliction "Day of Reckoning" had 8,946 paid patrons among the 13,225 attendees, which translated to a $1.5 million take at the gate. If these figures hold, attendance and gate figures will be down from Affliction's first MMA effort, “Banned” in July, at the same arena.

The production was scaled down in several ways, including a less elaborate entryway, no Michael Buffer announcing and no big-name music acts, like Megadeth and Ozzy Osborne, performing. The number that will determine whether or not the show was a success is the tally of pay-per-view buys, which reportedly hovered around 100,000 for the first Affliction show. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told Sherdog.com that preliminary estimates look very good, and that Affliction is likely to break even on the event. Rumors persisted, however, that Affliction's cut of the revenue won't be enough to sustain the company’s MMA arm past a third show. Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio vehemently denied that possibility in interviews this week.

One thing that wasn't scaled down was the size of payroll. Yahoo Sports and MMAWeekly.com reported that Affliction spent $3.3 million on fighter purses. Arlovski earned a cool $1.5 million in disclosed pay, while Emelianenko took home $300,000. Emelianenko was likely paid much more by the Russian M-1 Global outfit that co-promoted the show (Affliction paid M-1 $1.2 million for Emelianenko’s services for the fight in July against Tim Sylvia, according to The Wrestling Observer). Barnett banked $500,000 for his hard-earned win over Yvel, and Vitor Belfort, Matt Lindland and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira also broke the six-figure mark.

Belfort scored his most emphatic knockout in years, flooring Matt Lindland with a left hook followed by three punches on the ground that left the elite middleweight twitching and in need of extensive medical attention. Nogueira headlined a preliminary card that aired on HDNet with a dominating performance using knee strikes to topple now-former top-10 light heavyweight Vladimir Matyushenko in the second round. In another light heavyweight tilt, Renato "Babalu" Sobral submitted Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in the second round with a D’Arce choke.

The pay-per-view opener between Dan Lauzon and Bobby Green proved a spectacle, as three extended breaks in the action came after low blows from the animated Green, a last-minute replacement for Chris Horodecki. Despite the starts and stops, Lauzon was able to finish Green with a choke in a first round that took some 10 minutes to complete. Time was too tight to air Jay Hieron's first-round knockout of Jason High, which took place after the main event. The fight aired on HDNet's "Inside MMA" on Friday.

While "Day of Reckoning" garnered a good share of attention, it wasn't the MMA television show with the most eyeballs on it on Jan. 24. As has been its practice, the Ultimate Fighting Championship ran head-to-head marathon programming on Spike TV to counter another promotion’s live offering. A premiere airing of fights from UFC 91, including Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture, drew an average of 2.3 million viewers, with a viewership high of 3.3 million for the heavyweight title fight. The number makes the bout the most-watched pre-taped fight to ever air on Spike TV.
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