[MMA] "Affliction: Trilogy" event canceled

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The Aug. 1 "Affliction: Trilogy" event, which lost its main event earlier this week when headliner Josh Barnett was denied a licensed due to a failed drug test, has been canceled.

News of the cancellation was first reported by veteran MMA journalist Josh Gross of SI.com.

Affliction Entertainment officials were not immediately available for comment when contacted by MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), but a source close to the event confirmed the decision has been made to scrap the show altogether, at least in its current form.

Officials from Affliction's co-promoter, M-1 Global, were also not immediately available for comment.

Barring a late change of plans or a miracle save from M-1 Global, "Trilogy" is essentially dead.

According to the SI.com report, event organizers have begun contacting the show's fighters to inform them of the cancellation. The event, which was expected to feature a main event between Barnett and famed Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, was slated to take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and air on pay-per-view and HDNet.

Other notables such as Renato "Babalu" Sobral, Jorge Santiago, Gegard Mousasi, Paul Buentello and Jay Hieron were also slated to compete on the card.

Another scheduled fighter, Vitor Belfort, was the leading candidate to replace Barnett, though the middleweight wouldn't have had the same drawing power. A fight between Emelianenko, the world's consensus No. 1 heavyweight fighter, and Barnett, arguably the No. 2 heavyweight, had been heavily promoted throughout the year and was expected to be one of the biggest fights of 2009.

Barnett, whom the CSAC said tested positive for an anabolic steroid, said he "had no reason" to believe he'd fail his test.

In addition to Belfort, fighters such as Brett Rogers, Don Frye, Jeff Monson and "King" Mo Lawal openly campaigned for the fight with Emelianenko, though none will apparently get the chance.

Affliction, a high-end clothing company that used to be one of the UFC's biggest sponsors, launched its own fight series in July 2008. Former PRIDE champion Emelianenko headlined both cards, defeating Tim Sylvia and then Anrei Arlovski, and drew 14,832 attendees ($2.1 million gate) for the first show and 13,318 ($1.4 million gate) for the second. However, the organization, which paid out nearly $7 million in reported fighter pay for the two shows, has been dogged by rumors of a potential demise in recent months, though Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio has been steadfast in his denials.

It's unknown if today's cancellation resulted from the simply loss of its "Trilogy" main event or if it underscores more serious troubles for the upstart promotion.

[mma junkie]

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