The news came as a surprise to nearly everyone, even Roy Nelson. The former International Fight League heavyweight champion found out that he would be facing fellow Affliction fighter Andrei Arlovski on the Oct. 4 EliteXC event just a few hours before it was reported in the media.
"Talk about short notice," said Nelson, who was originally slated to face PaulBuentello on Affliction's Oct. 11 offering before the event was postponed. "All I can say is, that's the fight game. You never know what can happen."
Now instead of facing a mid-level opponent on the undercard of an Affliction show, he's taking on a top heavyweight on what has just become a very compelling EliteXC event on CBS. It has the potential to serve as a major boost not just for Nelson, but also for EliteXC and Affliction, both of which have struggled to make headway against the UFC in the battle for fans' attention.
Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio said the two organizations have been in talks for nearly eight weeks, but a deal was finalized just 11 days before the event.
"When you watch the show, you're going to see it's pretty well-branded," he said. "It's an EliteXC-Affliction co-promotion. There are a couple different reasons we did it: one is, obviously, to brand the clothing line. We have commercials and things like that. But also it's just to showcase Andrei Arlovski, and I think it's going to be a great fight."
The addition of Arlovski, a former UFC champion, who is well known among hardcore MMA fans, certainly gives this EliteXC event the credibility it has sometimes lacked in past CBS broadcasts. Combined with a KimboSlice-KenShamrock fight and Gina Carano appearance, it also has the potential to bring stellar ratings. But many are wondering what became of Josh Barnett, who was originally scheduled to face Arlovski for Affliction.
"He was offered the fight," Atencio said. "I couldn't get a hold of him. He was out of the country and it was just how it worked out that it ended up being Roy Nelson and Arlovski. It's a good matchup either way, but now it makes it so that the winner of this fight is in contention to fight Fedor [Emelianenko]."
When such a fight might take place, as well as whether Affliction's next event will be another co-promotional effort with EliteXC, is still a lingering question.
"Our next show is in January -- and we're not even confirmed for January, so right now we're looking at the first quarter of 2009 -- and that's going to be with Golden Boy," Atencio said. "Whether we work with EliteXC or anyone else, we haven't finalized anything yet, but right now it's Golden Boy that we're doing the next show with."
Affliction COO Michael Cohen told a slightly different tale as to the status of the organization's next event, but is also keeping the door open for a long-term arrangement with EliteXC.
"Right now we're concentrating on the Oct. 4 event," Cohen said. "There is no definitive agreement currently in place for other events. We are scheduled for a Jan. 24 event, but that event is not currently associated with CBS or EliteXC. But we are all concentrating on the Oct. 4 fight because the time of the signing of the agreement to the day of the fight is less than two weeks. More discussions will ensue, but they will ensue after this event."