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Ben vs. Ben: The UFC/Affliction Argument

(One more Ben never hurt anything.)

At Wednesday’s press conference in Los Angeles every single Affliction employee made sure to refer to their event as “the biggest event in MMA history.” That may be a blatant exaggeration, but this coming weekend is still a monumental one for our sport, not to mention a great one for those of us who love it. With that in mind, we bring you another edition of Ben vs. Ben, where Cage Potato’s similarly named editors battle it out. This time it’s personal.

Which underdog has the best chance of scoring an upset this weekend?

Fowlkes: There are underdogs and then there are underdogs. By that I mean there are the guys who are betting underdogs and the guys who are mostly just perceived to be underdogs, even if the line on them doesn’t really reflect it.

For the latter I like Ben Rothwell. It might only be a mild upset for him to beat Andrei Arlovski, but it would go a long way toward silencing the Rothwell haters who still think his thirteen-fight win streak was all IFL hype. Some of it was, sure, but Rothwell is a monster. He can do everything Arlovski does, only better. He’s also matured and become a real workhorse in the gym since leaving the IFL, whereas a lot of guys might have slacked off with no fights on the horizon.

As for real betting underdogs, at +400 Reese Andy’s my man (okay, so the old IFL loyalties are starting to show, I admit it). It’s not that he’s so much better than Brandon Vera, but I just don’t believe Vera’s head is really in this fight. He’s still dwelling on the Werdum fight, still feeling like he ought to be a heavyweight, and now Andy’s going to come in, take him down, and grind away at his face for a decision victory. It’s definitely not out of the question.

Goldstein: Wow. You should have prefaced that response with “Caution: Extreme Nuthugging Ahead.” I like Rothwell too, but to say that he does everything Arlovski does, only better — well, it’s a statement that can only be proved by the fight itself. Still, I have to agree that Rothwell has a good shot at surprising a lot of people. Arlovski vs. Rothwell is the only fight on the Affliction main card that isn’t completely lopsided, and Big Ben has the tools to win.

As far as other smart underdog bets, Bodog is letting hype affect their lines a little too much. Relative newcomer Cain Velasquez (3-0) is somehow a sizable favorite over the far more seasoned Jake O’Brien (10-1), and smother-master Jesse Taylor is a +130 ‘dog against the armbar-prone and cardio-challenged CB Dollaway.

And for you thrill-seekers, I’d just like to point out that the line on Affliction’s Antonio Rogerio Nogueira/Edwin Dewees match is -1500/+700. Hey, you can’t win if you don’t play…

Are any of the fights on the UFC card worth getting excited about besides the main event?

Goldstein: Short answer — no.

Long answer — though the event could turn out to be very entertaining, the main card is heavy on squash matches meant to showcase a single fighter, and with the exception of maybe Edgar/Franca, none of the fights will have any bearing on the pecking orders among the UFC’s weight divisions. CB Dollaway vs. Jesse Taylor will hold some interest for fans of “The Ultimate Fighter”, but it could potentially be the most boring bout of the night, with both wrestlers struggling to lay on top of each other. I suppose the interesting match for diehards will be the aforementioned lightweight bout between Frankie Edgar and Hermes Franca. Still, the idea of a rusty Franca against a guy who can’t finish doesn’t really fire me up.

I’m looking forward to seeing Anthony Johnson go for another dramatic KO, Cain Velasquez continue to fulfill his hype, and Brandon Vera try to regroup as a 205-pounder after back-to-back losses at heavyweight — but I’d be just as interested in these fights no matter who their opponents were. (See also: Anderson Silva vs. light-heavyweight gatekeeper James Irvin.)

The point of this card is having the “real” best fighter in the world steal some attention from Fedor Emelianenko. The rest of the lineup feels like an afterthought, so I’m keeping my expectations low.

Fowlkes: I’d really like to disagree with you here, mostly so I could insult you personally, but I just can’t do it. Squash matches are indeed the theme of the night. We may get a few highlight-reel finishes when “Rumble” Johnson (awesome nickname) smashes Kevin Burns or when Jake O’Brien comes in with something to prove and gets immediately swarmed by Cain Velasquez, but I don’t see any matches that are exciting and competitive.

That’s why I have to think this card is more for the casual fans who only know Affliction as a clothing company. That crowd also loves a big finish more than a close, technical fight, and the UFC is doing their best to deliver that. Once Affliction is over, then I’ll go back and find out if I was right.

What will Affliction’s pay-per-view buys look like, and will it be enough to declare the show a success?

Fowlkes: Something about this event – maybe it’s the presence of both Fedor and Matt Lindland – has everyone harkening back to the dismal 14,000-odd pay-per-view buys that Bodog generated last spring. It seems like if we agree on nothing else, we all feel strongly that Affliction has to do better than that, even if we don’t expect a UFC-like 500,000 buys.

A good night for Affliction would be breaking 100,000 buys. That’s what they need in order to feel like they’ve done something, even if they’ll still take a bath on the event as a whole. I think they’ll reach that milestone, but just barely. I can’t see them getting more than 200,000 and, yes, that’s due in part to the UFC’s Anti-Affliction show.

But I don’t think Affliction should be deterred by that. This event should establish them as a credible competitor with some buzz and a little forward momentum heading into the fall. That’s all they need to do, and they’ll do it. That, and maybe sell a few t-shirts.

Goldstein: If anything, Affliction: Banned will demonstrate the difference between “MMA fans” and “UFC fans.” Obviously, Affliction won’t pull in the number of buys that the UFC does with every show, but if we’re going to set the magic number at 100,000, I think they’ll hit it. Banned has little in common with that BodogFight fiasco — it’s a domestic card, stacked top to bottom with recognizable fighters, pushed by the names of Affliction and Donald Trump. MMA has also gone through a noticeable growth spurt in the last year. There are a lot more people following the sport now, and nearly everyone who considers themselves “hardcore fans” will be tuning in.

Less than 100,000 buys, and it’s a stiff blow to the morale of Affliction — they basically shot their wad talent-wise for their first event, so if they can’t sell pay-per-views with a card as stacked as this one, they’re in big trouble. Assuming the buy rate is decent, I think the real measure of success will be how quickly they can put together show #2. Right now, they’re a historic one-off; if they can follow up their debut in less than three months, they’ll become legitimate players.

No flip-floppy bullshit now — how exactly will the Fedor/Sylvia fight end?

Goldstein: In all the analysis of this matchup, one factor sticks out for me: Sylvia is a slow, lumbering giant, while Fedor’s classic overhand-right-into-shoot is one of the quickest sequences you’ll ever see from a heavyweight. With that in mind, I’m going with Emelianenko by armbar, late in round one, following a takedown.

Sylvia’s takedown defense may be top-notch, but I don’t believe it’ll stand up to Fedor’s explosiveness, dogged determination, and his willingness to absorb some shots on the way in. And I’m not even convinced that Sylvia will win the standup exchanges leading up to that decisive moment, either. The real question is, will Sylvia tap from the armbar, or will the ref have to step in for him?

Fowlkes: You’ll get no flip-flopping from me. My pro-Fedor platform is well-established, and I’m certainly not going against it now just because Tim Sylvia has a height advantage and likes to run off at the mouth about wanting to fight pro boxers. There’s some Fedor kryptonite out there somewhere. There has to be. But a lanky striker with a decent ground game, that isn’t it.

The way I see it happening is Tim Sylvia comes in with a full head of steam but it all dissipates after he feels Fedor’s power and quickness. Fedor has a way of communicating the inevitability of defeat to his opponents, and Sylvia has been known to get that ‘so this is how I’m going to lose’ look in his eyes when things aren’t going his way. If you don’t know the look I’m talking about, just wait until the second round when Sylvia’s lying on the bottom in side control, staring up at the ceiling and sucking air through his mouth.

Fedor by armbar, round two.

Cagepotato Comments

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John- July 29, 2008 at 8:36 am
Just because anderson silva fought in pride doesnt mean he had a contract with them ADW, Anderson silva was all over the place before he signed a contract with UFC, And then when UFC bought out pride they accumalated all of their best fighters...the UFC elite doesnt soley consist of PRIDE fighters it consists of both UFC and PRIDE fighters. As for affliction im going to have to agree that they couldnt have another stacked card like that again, most of the fighters that were on the card were Fighters who couldnt cut it in teh UFC, with a couple exceptions, I mean look at Arlovski's last fight in the UFC with his shit win over Werdum, or when linland fought in the UFC or when Silvia won over a credible opponent. UfC may have some lackluster cards but they still have a good main event and CO-Main event and they Know how to Market thier organization, that is why they will never go public, Dana white the Forenzo brothers know thier fans better then any other MMA organization and thats how they are going to keep growing and growing, it will be years before any other MMA organization can come out with a MMA game for the platforms and win best sports game at an E3 Coference.
ADW- July 18, 2008 at 8:32 pm
Actually Anderson Silva did come from Pride. He fought there when he was with Chute Boxe. He may have left to go the UFC BEFORE they acquired pride but that is still where he came to prominence.

And think of how many Pride Fighters are doing well in the UFC. Anderson, Minotauro, Rampage(until a couple of days ago) Wanderlei is on the up and up. UFC fans is the man you need to stop talking shit yourself and realize why so many pride fighters have a hard time in the UFC. Fighting in a cage is ALOT different than fighting in a ring. Imagine taking a fighter out of their their element (the ring) and putting them in a cage against some of the best fighters in the UFC. That is what happened to Crocop and every other Pride fighter that lost in the UFC. You can train in the cage but actually FIGHTING in one is very different.

I believe that Shogun and other fighters should have been given some easier opponents to fight from the start so that they can get there bearings in the cage. Throwing Wanderlei in with chuck may have seemed like a good idea but I think that it should have been Wandy's 2nd or 3rd fight so he could have gotten more cage experience (even though he has fought in the UFC before).
UFC fan is the man- July 18, 2008 at 6:34 pm
hey ufc fansucks, you are obviously retarded and dont know shit.
Anderson Silva didn't come from pride. Thats NOT where he was aquired.
You need to learn about what you are talking about before you can run that mouth.
All the pride guys got their ass beatdown.
Go troll your kiddy-porn site, and shut the fuck up.
PotatoHead- July 18, 2008 at 4:25 pm
Great "Ben vs Ben", guys!

(Goldstein... you're AWESOME!!!)
ufc fan sucks- July 18, 2008 at 4:56 am
ufc fan what about pride fighting all the best heavy weights were in pride for a long time. once pride folded they took over the belts in the ufc, anderson silva had a few losses in pride. ufc was a breeding ground for pride once the fighters came over from pride they dominated, name 1 good heavyweight in the ufc besides the two pride vets, oh yeah brock lesnar what's he got 2 fights. ufc is a bunch of lame ass tuf fighters besides the 9 or ten really good fighters. It's nice to see a little competition for the ufc, i still watch all the ufc ppv but ufc 86 sucked the affliction fights will be better then anything we've seen in awhile.
whaaa?- July 18, 2008 at 12:45 am
Remember the right hand Couture caught Big Tim with at the start of their fight, look for Fedor to recreate that then finish him with hammer fists before a minute is up.
MMA FAN- July 17, 2008 at 9:37 pm
It drives me crazy when people like ufc fan write such stupid comments. UFC actual champion lost against fedor 2 times. Besides they arent that old... 32 isnt relly that old for mma fighters, sure its better to have 28 years old but the amount of experience thay have is great. They all have lots of fights left on them, they arent like Ken Shamrock or Don Frye...
Dont give ur opinion unless u r informed correctly.
is that too much to ask? seriously...
Luke REAl MMA FAN- July 17, 2008 at 7:15 pm
UfC Fan your a joke read over what you just wrote, the Affilction card is by far the best and most stacked card in the past six months easy! Ufc is cool but its more like a brand just like those stupid Affliction shirts i think if this event goes well Ufc is gonna have there hands full competeing with Affliction for a long long time. Its not gonna be some flop like IFL or Bodog fights just to name a few, it will be around to last! Dont get me wrong though the Ufc has the best fighters in any other weight class other than heavy weights the only HW fighter that Ufc's got now is Nogera, who fedor's beatin umm twice. So Affliction needs to establish there other weight class's and they'll do just fine, other than those stupid over priced T-shirts!
BIG CHRIS- July 17, 2008 at 7:00 pm
That Anonymous comment was mine I just forgot to put my name in.....
Anonymous- July 17, 2008 at 6:59 pm
@UFC fan-
First you say-"The whole thing is made up of washed up ex-UFC fighters, and one coward who wouldn’t even sign, that being Fedor"

Then you say-" I wish affliction, and all the other little tiny shows lots of luck, cause the UFC needs them to grow a new crop of fighters, but that in no way makes them as important or on the same level."

So is it made up of old washed up fighters or young up and coming talent? Make up your mind!! I don't think you have a clue of what your talking about!! I just wanted to point that out.
Toner Breath- July 17, 2008 at 6:02 pm
Sylvia wins via flying armbar 1:00 first round. If I call it right, I get a T-shirt dammit
UFC fan = kool-aid drinker- July 17, 2008 at 5:56 pm
okay...your an idiot for thinking that...get off the UFCs nuts and pay the $40 to enjoy the freaking fight. Its a stacked card. You are not a MMA fan, you are a kool-aid drinking UFC fan. Ridiculous...
UFC fan- July 17, 2008 at 4:48 pm
I don't care what the affliction nuthuggers say, and I'm sorry I feel this way, but I don't care about the affliction ppv, I wouldn't watch it if it was free.
The whole thing is made up of washed up ex-UFC fighters, and one coward who wouldn't even sign, that being Fedor. Plus give him 1 more year and he will be to damn old anymore anyways.
Sorry to piss everyone off, but there is a reason why UFC has 500,000 buys even on weak cards, because everyone knows the best are already in UFC, everyone else is a farm team for raising new young talents without getting them destroyed in the UFC.
I wish affliction, and all the other little tiny shows lots of luck, cause the UFC needs them to grow a new crop of fighters, but that in no way makes them as important or on the same level.
Why UFC is even bothering to compete with "nobody's" is beyond me.
What UFC should be doing is supporting them, and all the other little shows, bring em all in to a big desk, and talk business, let them know that as long as they understand their role in farming out talent, and feeding the UFC a new generation of great MMA fighters, then UFC will make sure they stay in business, and even promote them.
Do them just like AA and AAA baseball teams. No one loses, no one has to spend a ton of money trying to convince smart MMA fans to watch just 1 show over the other.
Competing is for losers.
I expect the complete losers, and assholes on this forum to just lose their minds on me and talk stupid shit....feel free, you are wasting your breathe though.
Sideshow- July 17, 2008 at 4:04 pm
Surest bet I think is Barnett. I think Rothwell and Whitehead also have a good chance. And I also like Sylvia w/the odds.
Vrax- July 17, 2008 at 3:57 pm
The only thing I don't understand in your Fedor/Timmy analysis is why you think Fedor will even bother to work for top control. My bet is that he'll shoot (yes, after that right hand) and Tim will stuff it. Fedor anticipating this will grab a face-down armbar on Tim's left in the sprawl scramble.

Also, you really think Rothwell's hands are going be sharper than AA's? On the ground, oh yeah Ben is way underrated. But Roach is a helluva boxing trainer. Making this the fight I am most looking forward to.