‘Trilogy’ Taking Shape for Affliction

By Brian Knapp Jun 19, 2009
Two of the world’s premier middleweights will collide when Sengoku champion Jorge Santiago meets the mercurial Vitor Belfort at Affliction “Trilogy” on Aug. 1 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The 185-pound showdown will help anchor one of the summer’s most anticipated events.

Based out of American Top Team, the versatile Santiago (21-7) will carry a nine-fight winning streak into the match. The 28-year-old Brazilian last appeared in January, when he choked Kazuo Misaki unconscious to win the Sengoku middleweight crown. He holds victories against reigning Maximum Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Trevor Prangley and UFC veterans Derrick Noble, LaVerne Clark and Kazuhiro Nakamura. Santiago has delivered 20 of his 21 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission.

Enjoying something of a renaissance, Belfort (18-8), still only 32 years old, has rattled off back-to-back knockout wins against UFC veteran Terry Martin and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland. One of the sport’s most physically gifted competitors, he has not tasted defeat since he dropped a unanimous decision to Dan Henderson at Pride 32 in October 2006. Victories against UFC hall of famer Randy Couture and former Pride Fighting Championships middleweight titleholder Wanderlei Silva highlight his resume.

Meanwhile, reigning Strikeforce light heavyweight king Renato "Babalu" Sobral will lock horns with former Dream middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi.

Unbeaten since he was banished from the UFC two years ago, Sobral (32-8) has not fought since he submitted Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou with a brabo choke at Affliction “Day of Reckoning” in January. The 33-year-old Brazilian has secured more than half (17) of his 32 career wins by submission and remains one of only two men to submit 2005 Pride middleweight grand prix winner Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

Mousasi (25-2-1) has won 12 straight and finished eight of his last nine opponents inside one round. After vacating his Dream belt to move up in weight, he submitted super heavyweight Mark Hunt with an armbar in just 79 seconds at Dream 9 last month. The 23-year-old Armenian has never been knocked out in 28 career bouts and holds notable victories against Hector Lombard, Denis Kang, Melvin Manhoef and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza.

A heavyweight super fight pairing Fedor Emelianenko with Josh Barnett will headline Affliction “Trilogy.” Other bouts will pit former International Fight League welterweight champion Jay Hieron against British striker Paul Daley, UFC veteran Dan Lauzon against one-time IFL cornerstone Chris Horodecki and Miletich Fighting Systems heavyweight Ben Rothwell against the unbeaten Chase Gormley.

In addition, Paul Buentello, originally scheduled to lock horns with former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, will meet the winner of the Gilbert Yvel-Pedro Rizzo match at Fight Force International “Ultimate Chaos” on June 27. Sylvia was forced to withdraw from the event after he was knocked out by Ray Mercer in nine seconds on June 13.

Affliction: Trilogy
Saturday, Aug. 1
Honda Center
Anaheim, Calif.

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Josh Barnett
Gegard Mousasi vs. Renato Sobral
Jorge Santiago vs. Vitor Belfort
Jay Hieron vs. Paul Daley
Ben Rothwell vs. Chase Gormley
Chris Horodecki vs. Dan Lauzon
Brett Cooper vs. Akbarh Arreola
Jessie Gibbs vs. Rob Broughton
Lucio Linhares vs. Mikhail Zayats
Deividas Taurosevicius vs. TBA
Paul Buentello vs. TBA
Mark Hominick vs. TBA
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