For a brief moment last week, it seemed like Brett Rogers had a decent shot at replacing Josh Barnett in the main event of Affliction: Trilogy (R.I.P.). Fedor wanted it, the fans wanted it (at least more than they wanted to see Emelianenko take on middleweight Vitor Belfort), and hey, at least it would be better than canceling the event altogether, right? Then, the rug was pulled out from everyone’s feet. Team Bison owner/head trainer Mike Reilly made a long post on FiveOuncesofPain over the weekend to answer questions and explain the Grim’s role in the behind-the-scenes negotiations. Some highlights…
On how Rogers first came up as a possible replacement: "We never asked to fight Fedor. We are under contract with Strikeforce and happy to be [with] Strikeforce. We have not sought any bouts outside of Strikeforce. We were however approached to fight Fedor by Affliction. Of course we agreed to the fight immediately provided all the details could be worked out among the many parties involved."
On Fedor: "He is the unqualified best in the game. The quintessential fighter. Accepting a fight against him on nine days notice may seem foolish or simply a money move; but it is not. The bottom line is you never know when, or if you will get another chance. Brett is not in this game to be good, he is not in it to be great; his goal is to be the best. How, as a fighter, could he have turned down the possibility of taking his greatest test? No chance he walks away from that opportunity. When Fedor mentioned Brett by name as the replacement he wanted we were very honored."
On Affliction’s demise: "I know that some people want to make this a story about failure, or greed, or stupidity. As someone who was close to the story I can tell you I saw none of those things. In this story I saw courage, respect, and effort. We want to believe that those things will always be enough to make it work, but sadly even our best efforts still fail…Yes, Affliction the promotion failed. True fans of the sport will mourn it’s passing. Personally I will rejoice in their efforts and give them a great deal of credit for trying something daring, for enriching the lives of fighters and fans. While we never got to step inside their ring (damn close…twice) we were still touched by the respect and professionalism shown by the entire Affliction team and we are proud to number them among our friends."
On haters: "Understand that is the lesson of the cage. Most of the time when guys step inside the steel they are ready, willing and able to lay it all out on the line. They give their blood, their passion, their heart to win and half the time they come up short. That is just how it goes folks. But I would rather be numbered with those who strive mightily and fail then those sheltered cowards who heckle and hiss from the shadows of the sidelines."
On Brock Lesnar being a total asshole who nobody likes: "There are some who think great champions in this sport should mock their opponents, spit on sponsors and flip off the fans. We are not in that group. Neither is Fedor. We hope one day we get to share the stage with him."