Affliction MMA Uptade
“We’re not intimidated by Fedor”
Says Andre Arlovski Trainer Freddie Roach

Dennis Bernstein, MBA

It worked for his fighter the last time, so why not do it again? Trainer Freddie Roach has once again cast himself as a central character in an important fight and time will tell if he can affect the world’s best MMA heavyweight as he did boxing’s biggest draw. Relying on the same formula that influenced the Manny Pacquiao-Oscar de la Hoya bout in December, Roach spoke pointedly about the prospect of defeating the seeming invincible Fedor Emelianenko on January 24 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.

“We won’t be intimidated. Being in the best shape you can be is the best way to be prepared for a fight. Andre’s footwork has improved his footwork greatly, I’m not a genius on ground work but he has a wrestling and ju jitsu coach for that; Andre’s striking skills are strong. Fedor’s footwork is not that great and we’re going to take advantage of that. He can’t beat Andre standing up, it’s that simple,” Roach exclaimed on Wednesday.

Hmm, them’s fighting words but Arlovski’s comments weren’t as strong. The fighter never predicted a win over the reigning #1 heavyweight but admitted the importance of this bout to his future. Arlovski hinted that his record against better opposition may be the difference in the upcoming match and is ready for anything.

“If you want to be the best fighter you have to fight against the best fighters. I will do everything possible to beat him. He’s human and I have to be mentally ready for this fight and we’ll see what will happen. I have to be ready for a ground game and I have practiced a lot on it. I can go either way; I fought effectively against Ben Rothwell but would have to fight differently on the ground against Fedor. Fedor is the number one heavyweight in the world and I will respect him up to January 24 but once we step in the ring that respect will be gone. I think his recent sambo loss will only motivate him more. I’ve been waiting for this fight for a long time and it’s great that it’s a title shot,” the Chicago based Arlovski admitted.

Roach addressed how training camp was going and the difference between training boxers and MMA combatants. For Freddie’s money, there’s no difference. “We have two workouts a day for Andre. He works out for three hours on boxing, takes a four hour rest and does three hours on his wrestling. We’re just getting him ready for the battle. There’s no difference in cornering an MMA fighter than it is a boxer. If someone comes to me and they want the help and they’re dedicated to the sport I will help them. A fight is a fight. Andre is a very disciplined guy like Manny and he’s easy to work with. His work ethic is great,” said Roach, who will be in Arlovski’s corner for the second time.

The veteran of both UFC and Affliction addressed the issue of his departure from UFC and the accompanying pressure of the main event. “I’m just focused on my fight with Fedor on January 24.  I’m not with UFC not for other reasons that I wanted to box as well. But I’m training for MMA right now.. I think we both feel pressure but probably more on him because he’s the champion. I’ve trained hard for this moment and this is the biggest fight of my career of my life. I’m happy to work with Affliction and everything’s been great so far,” Arlovski noted.

Affliction VP Tom Atencio was present to address some points not involved with the main event. Throughout the promotion, Atencio has been sensitive on questions about ticket sales given the earlier cancellation of Affliction’s second MMA show that was scheduled for Las Vegas late last year. Admitting that his lack of experience in the public eye may have contributed to the tone of his responses, he had some good news on the ticket front and what the next show will hold. “We’ve just opened up the arena for more ticket sales and I wanted to address those rumors about the lack of ticket sales. The winner of Fedor-Andre fight will get Barnett-Yvel fight winner,” he related. He also gave further information regarding the sanctioning of Yvel by the California state athletic commission. “We went in front of the commission and we’re to the point where he’s getting his medical exam. If he passes that, he’ll be sanctioned to fight,"  leaving open the possibility that Yvel may not make it to fight night. As far as the appearance of MMA legend Tito Ortiz, while you’ll be seeing him around the promotion, you won’t be seeing him in the ring anytime soon. “Tito is still under contract to fight with the UFC. But we want to help him with his career after fighting. Once he fulfills his contract commitments to the UFC we’ll talk about the possibility of fighting for us,” the Affliction VP related regarding Ortiz’s color commentating role on the PPV event.