Fedor Reigns Supreme

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The so-called experts got a break Saturday night when mixed martial arts top dog Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) put to rest any and all rumors of his demise. The 36-second stoppage of former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia (Pictures) before a sold-out crowd of 13,988 at the Honda Center testified to that fact.

Emelianenko attacked from the get-go, pummeling Sylvia with punches and eventually knocking him off his feet. He then swarmed the downed giant, continuously punching before taking his back and locking up a rear-naked choke.

Sylvia tried to fight the choke. However, he said it was over his windpipe and was very painful in addition to cutting off his air.

“I don’t think Fedor is human,” Sylvia half-joked after the fight. “He is by far the best fighter in the world.”

Fedor Emelianenko (right) vs. Tim Sylvia (Photo by Dave Mandel)

Fedor Emelianenko (right) vs. Tim Sylvia (Photo by Dave Mandel)

Emelianenko chuckled when told of Sylvia’s comment.

“I am human and I get nervous like everyone else,” said the newly crowned champion through an interpreter.

The much-ballyhooed showdown between Emelianenko and embattled UFC champion Randy Couture (Pictures) was trotted back into the spotlight after the fight. Asked whom he wanted to fight next, Emelianenko said Couture.

Emelianenko also cleared up questions about his health after the fight. Seen with a wrap on his hand, he stated that it was no big deal, that his thumb had just popped out and he had popped it back in.

Fedor Emelianenko submits Tim Sylvia (Photo by Dave Mandel)

Fedor Emelianenko submits Tim Sylvia (Photo by Dave Mandel)

“Anyone who doesn’t think that guy is the baddest man on the planet is completely full of s---,” former UFC referee and current Affliction broadcaster “Big” John McCarthy, in awe of Emelianenko’s performance, told Sherdog.com.

Andrei Arlovski (Pictures) took a leap of faith when he parted ways with his longtime promoter, the UFC. If his performance against former IFL standout Ben Rothwell (Pictures) is any indication, Arlovski’s future is brighter than ever. He ran circles around a flatfooted Rothwell throughout the first round, landing at will with a well-choreographed assault.

Rothwell was once again under siege in the second period, but he rallied after Arlovski gave up position by attempting an ill-advised heel hook. From the top, Rothwell strafed Arlovski with heavy elbows and punches and seemed to have swung the momentum in his favor.

A brief break in the action drew a standup from referee Josh Rosenthal. Arlovski seized the opportunity and nearly finished the bout with an overwhelming onslaught of strikes. Trapped in the corner, Rothwell could not escape the volley of strikes from his foe. A flying knee, a head kick and countless punches battered Rothwell to a pulp, and only the bell could assure him of seeing the third round.

Andrei Arlovski (top) vs. Ben Rothwell (Photo by Dave Mandel)

Andrei Arlovski (top) vs. Ben Rothwell (Photo by Dave Mandel)

Confident and patient, Arlovski opened the third frame stalking, searching for the optimum moment to unwind. About a minute in, he found his opening and delivered a straight right and a right uppercut. Rothwell was likely out with the first punch, but the uppercut left no doubt and he fell supine to the canvas at 1:13 of the final round.

“The game plan was to take him down,” Arlovski said. “I didn’t think I’d get him down, but I did come back. I didn’t show my jiu-jitsu, but I showed my boxing. I won the fight.”

Arlovski said he had felt quite a bit of pressure to win toward the end of his UFC contract. Without those distractions, he explained, this was the most prepared he had been for a fight.

As for his next bout, Arlovski left it up to Affliction: “I want to fight Fedor, Josh [Barnett] or anybody Affliction chooses.”

Josh Barnett (Pictures) scratched his seven-year itch, avenging a knockout loss to Pedro Rizzo (Pictures) from 2001 with a knockout of his own. It was a pinpoint left hook that sent Rizzo careening to the mat, where he lay prone at 1:44 of the second round.

Josh Barnett vs. Pedro Rizzo (Photo by Dave Mandel)

Josh Barnett vs. Pedro Rizzo (Photo by Dave Mandel)

Referee Herb Dean (Pictures) shoved a swarming Barnett off of the unconscious Rizzo, saving him from any unnecessary damage.

Mark Hominick (Pictures), known for his stand-up prowess, showed a flashy guard game in the second round of his bout with Trenell "Savant" Young (Pictures), finishing him with an armbar at 4:25 of the frame.

After a back-and-forth first round that saw Hominick inch ahead via aggression more than anything, the fighters finally hit the mat when Young scored an outside trip takedown. Hominick immediately started cycling through submission attempts. First it was a triangle that Young slammed his way out of, but the next triangle led right to the armbar that ended the fight by tapout.

Renato Sobral (Pictures) nabbed a unanimous decision over Mike Whitehead (Pictures) in one-sided fashion. The light heavyweights fought at a timid pace until late in the bout. That’s when “Babalu” turned up the fire on Whitehead, scoring with punches, knees and kicks to remove any doubt the judges might have had.

Whitehead, often heralded as a fighter with a ton of potential who just can’t come through in big fights, lived up to that reputation. He looked remiss to throw his hands, and when he finally did get the fight to the floor, he could not do anything offensive.

Sobral won each round convincingly, but the third was the most impressive. He landed a number of combinations and nearly garnered a submission. The official tallies were also unanimous -- 30-27 on all three cards.

Despite his victory, Matt Lindland (Pictures) could not be pleased with his performance. Fabio Negao (Pictures) took “The Law” to the limit, and after 15 minutes both fighters looked completely spent. Lindland looked good early, dropping Negao with a left before slapping on his patented “choke-slam,” or in normal terms, a guillotine.

After coasting in the first, Lindland found himself in trouble in the second. Negao landed elbow after elbow, backing Lindland to the ropes in full defensive mode. He eventually recovered and took the fight back to the mat. From there, Lindland punished Negao from top position to put another round in the bank.

Matt Lindland (left) vs. Fabio Negao (Photo by Dave Mandel)

Matt Lindland (left) vs. Fabio Negao (Photo by Dave Mandel)

The third round was tough to watch. Both fighters, running on E, failed to mount much offense. Lindland did land a significant knee, but he could not finish the fight. The judges awarded Lindland a unanimous decision by scores of 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Pictures) had very little trouble with Edwin Dewees (Pictures) in their light heavyweight affair. A slow match characterized by Nogueira’s methodical pace accelerated into a crescendo late in the first round. Nogueira got the plum clinch and kneed away at Dewees’ midsection. Dewees defended the body well, but when Nogueira went upstairs with a left hand, he buckled to the canvas. It was mere seconds later that referee Herb Dean came to Dewees’ aid and stopped the ground-and-pound assault at 4:06 of the first round.

Vitor Belfort (Pictures) made an impressive debut at middleweight, taking care of Terry Martin (Pictures) in devastating fashion. After a lackluster first round, “The Phenom” took over in the second. Martin, who was constantly moving forward throughout the bout, caught a flying knee on the side of the head. Belfort then punctuated the performance with an uppercut-straight left combination that removed Martin’s faculties 3:12 into the round.

As Belfort ascended the ropes to soak in the accolades of the approving crowd, Martin remained tangled in the ropes in a seated position.

Paul Buentello (Pictures) defeated last-minute replacement Gary Goodridge (Pictures) via unanimous decision -- 30-27 on all three scorecards. Buentello looked impressive in spurts but could not finish his veteran opponent despite the minimal offense Goodridge offered.

Mike Pyle (Pictures) defeated JJ Ambrose (Pictures) by rear-naked choke at 2:51 of the first period. Pyle easily outclassed his lesser opponent once the fight hit the mat. He got the takedown, advanced to mount and cinched the fight-ending submission.

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