No matter how much he plays it down, UFC president Dana White has to be nervous about Affliction's debut MMA show, 'Affliction: Banned.'
The July 19 card, which features top-level fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia and Josh Barnett, puts most recent UFC lineups to shame. In fact, with the exception of 'UFC 84: Ill Will,' Affliction's debut card trumps everything they've done so far in 2008, at least in terms of matchmaking.
But why would White be even a little concerned? After all, he's top of the MMA food chain and Affliction is a start-up.
The answer is simple.
Until now, no other organization has been able to bring the kind of money and press coverage Donald Trump can provide. Combine this with a card that reads like a who's who of unsigned MMA talent and you can’t blame White for feeling a little threatened.
Many organizations have taken a shot at UFC before -- and failed -- but now there may actually be some legitimate opposition.
White is always quick to sling mud at a competitor, but this is time he's actively set out to derail one. As a sure sign White is starting to sweat, he is determined to ensure 'Banned' fails.
The same night as 'Banned,' UFC is offering a free show on Spike TV headlined by Anderson Silva, who is making the jump to the light-heavyweight division.
The freebie will, of course, go head-to-head with 'Banned.' The matchups are nothing to write home about, but it's free and it's the UFC, which may be enough to sway some people from buying Affliction's vastly superior card.
If you're torn between the two offerings, do yourself a favour -- purchase 'Affliction: Banned' and set your PVR to record the UFC. 'Banned' is going to be a better event and you'll be helping to light a competitive fire in MMA -- something sorely lacking at the moment.
For too long the UFC has been the only game in town and some of their recent cards have reflected complacent matchmaking.
Both 'UFC 83: Serra vs. St. Pierre II' and 'UFC 86: Jackson vs. Griffin' illustrate a nasty trend -- cards being sold on the promise of only one exciting fight, while the rest of the show suffers from subpar -- and often boring -- matchups.
What's worse is this approach seems to be working.
UFC 83 did enormous numbers and UFC 86 will no doubt perform fairly well. Considering that both events were snooze-fests until their main events, this will only ensure that the quantity takes precedent over quality.
But don't think this column is the result of hatred for the UFC.
I only have a desire to see someone come along to get UFC's competitive juices flowing. After all, there's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition.
FULL CARD FOR 'AFFLICTION: BANNED'
Former Pride champion Fedor Emelianenko vs. former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia
Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski vs. Ben Rothwell
Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett vs. Pedro Rizzo
Matt Lindland vs. Fabio Negao
Renato Sobral vs. Mike Whitehead
Mike Pyle vs. JJ Ambrose
Aleksander Emelianenko vs. Paul Buentello
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (brother of UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira) vs. Edwin Dewees
(The following matches may not be broadcast on the pay-per-view)
Vitor Belfort vs. Terry Martin
Ray Lizama vs. Justin Levens
Savant Young vs. Mark Hominick