July 19: UFC Versus Afflication MMA

Gary WhittakerCorrespondent IJune 20, 2008

The UFC recently announced a new special event would be added to their lineup on July 19th, the same night that Affliction will have their first MMA PPV event they have entitled "Banned". Headlining the event for UFC will be Anderson Silva, who will be fighting in the light heavyweight division for the first time in his career. Anderson Silva was looking to having a boxing match with Roy Jones Jr, will now have to settle for a UFC striker and KO artist James Irvin.

Only 2 other matches have been announced so far. Anthony "Rumble" Johnson looks to legitimize himself by taking on a very strong grappler in Kevin Burns, and Hermes Franca is coming off his suspension to take on the undefeated Frank Edgar. You would have to think that Dana White will have to do much better than that if he wants to significantly hurt Affliction's promotion happening that same night. While the UFC will be airing free on Spike TV, they do not have anywhere near the star power Affliction has in fighters like Fedor, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Josh Barnett, and many others, including Canadian Mark Hominick.

I have to think that most hardcore MMA fans will still order the PPV (or watch it with friends at a local bar), and simply record the UFC event. I am only not impressed with the quality of UFC's card. Sure, Anderson Silva is maybe the best pound for pound fighter in MMA right now, but James Irvin? Really? Is there no one else willing to take this fight? You have to think that Dana is acting in retaliation for losing Arlovski, and not being able to sign Fedor.

For those thinking that Dana White is an egomaniacle asshole, this pretty much confirms it. For those thinking that despite his character "flaws", he is still a savvy business man, the jury is still out. Personally, I think it was a great move on his part, for the simple reason that Affliction is using UFC promoted names like Sylvia and Arlovski to bring over the many fans that have followed them throughout their career, and could capitalize on the interest of the growing number of MMA fans created (in part) by Elite XC's promotion on CBS. From a business perspective, he needs to take away as many fans as he can, by offering a free alternative to watch a good MMA promotion, with minimal risk since he can easily explain away any difference in ratings due to the fact that this is not his "A" PPV promotion.

In addition, Dana also has quite a bit of momentum going into July 19, due to the fact that he will have TUF Finale this Saturday, followed in 2 weeks by Rampage versus Forrest at UFC 86, before putting up this new event only 2 weeks later. He knows that there is a significant number of MMA fans that have a brand loyalty to the UFC over any other promotion, and those fans will be watching it free on Spike TV.