As with all showbiz productions, “The show must go on!” In light of Josh Barnett’s shocking stage-left exit from “Affliction: Trilogy,” company VP Tom Atencio is scouring the globe for a stand-in to trying and take down reigning WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko just 10 days before the curtain raises.
“We are very confident in getting a worthy opponent,” Atencio stated on today’s “Affliction: Trilogy” conference call. “I am in the negotiation process with a few fighters and we’ll put on the best fight possible, as we always do, to make sure that the match-up is one of quality and lives up to the standards of Affliction.”
The highly anticipated heavyweight title tilt was officially scrapped today after it was reveled that Barnett tested positive for a banned substance on a pre-fight screening administered by the California State Athletic Commission a few weeks ago.
Atencio stated that Barnett and his representatives are contesting the positive result and they are in the process of having the Commission test Barnett’s B-sample after his A-sample triggered the failed test.
However, Atencio added that he wasn’t exactly sure what Barnett tested positive for, but that he isn’t expecting Barnett’s participation in the event in any way.
This is the second time the former UFC heavyweight champ has come up positive on a drug test, so he certainly won’t get the benefit of anyone’s doubt.
Although Barnett and Co. are going to go through the appeals process, “Affliction: Trilogy” shall go on as planned inside the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Atencio would not divulge which three fighters he had honed his sights on, however wanted to reiterate that it would be someone that would please their fans.
“I work with Strikeforce, we share fighters as everybody knows, so I’m talking to them,” Atencio said of his multitude of options. “There are a lot of fighters out there. I have everyone under the sun coming up to me saying they have the next person that can beat [Fedor]. I have every single name, but I want to make sure that I give a fight that’s worthy for our event and for the fans.”
The early favorite to stand opposite the Russian is former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, with reports suggesting that he has already signed on the dotted line; Internet chatter which Atencio wasn’t ready to commit to.
“Until you hear it from me, until I have a contract signed, they’re all rumors,Atencio stated of Belfort moving up in weight to take on MMA’s Terminator. “It’s everybody trying to come out and get their moment in the sun. But until you absolutely hear it from my voice, from me, it’s not finalized.”
Belfort was slated to take on American Top Team stud Jorge Santiago on the August 1st pay-per-view event. No word on what his status will be if Belfort indeed gets a promotion.
Lights, camera, action?