It appears that Affliction's "trilogy" subtitle was a little too optimistic.
As detailed first by SI.com's Josh Gross and expanded on by Sherdog.com, the apparel company's third foray into fight promotion has been rendered null and void: Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio began making calls to fighters Friday morning to tell them the Aug. 1 event in Anaheim, Calif., had been canceled.
The promotion ran into a brick wall earlier in the week when headlining athlete Josh Barnett tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance. A scramble to find a replacement for star attraction Fedor Emelianenko distracted both organizers and media: Vitor Belfort and Brett Rogers emerged as leading candidates, with Belfort's camp confirming to multiple sources he had agreed to the fight.
Per a press release, the company's official party line is that there "wasn't enough time" to promote a new main event; highly unofficial speculation points to event financiers getting skittish about the suspect business result of Emelianenko fighting a late-notice replacement and pulling funding.
Print, billboard and television advertising were all focused on Barnett's participation; anyone ordering the event could claim -- with merit -- that the content was not as advertised and request a refund. Considering Affliction's already considerable budget, the idea that a chunk of customers would wind up contributing nothing to the show financially would effectively make the show a charity.
Where this leaves Affliction as a viable brand or entity -- and whether the same contractual rubble that affected ProElite will delay athletes looking for another payday -- is all TBD.