Fighting and Cycling

The UFC scored a huge victory yesterday, and they didn’t even have to do anything. Former UFC fighter Josh Barnett was supposed to be in the main event of the next Affliction card against Fedor Emelianenko on August 1. Barnett was briefly a UFC heavyweight champion, but he was stripped of that title and booted from the UFC when he tested positive for steroids. He moved on to Pride and then to Affliction after burning that UFC bridge, and he established himself as a top heavyweight outside of the biggest organization. In his pre-fight drug test this week he again tested positive. That means he obviously can’t get a license for the fight, and he was booted from the card. Affliction didn’t have the time to replace him, so they took the unusual step of cancelling the entire card. That’s a huge blow for a fledgling organization, and it could even be a fatal one. EliteXC was forced to declare bankruptcy after less of a setback than this one. Whether Affliction survives or not, this only serves to further establish the UFC as perhaps the only legitimate MMA organization out there. At the very least, they are by far the most professional. The best possible outcome of this is that Fedor Emelianenko would finally get frustrated by not fighting in the biggest and best and would join the UFC like he really needs to do. That would open up a world of possibilities – Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar and so on. There is no better place for him to be, and no other way for him to prove that he is what everyone thinks he is – the best heavyweight in the world, and perhaps the best fighter period.

If you haven’t been watching any of the Tour de France yet, do yourself a favor and watch Saturday’s stage. You don’t have to watch it all, just the last 45 minutes or an hour. The race ends at the top of Mont Ventoux, the biggest and nastiest climb of the entire tour. If you have never seen them ride up Ventoux then you probably won’t believe what you see. It’s a steep, relentless, nasty climb. It looks like it is almost straight up, and it seems endless. To make it even tougher, the wind blows up there like you wouldn’t believe. It’s not just that the stage itself should be interesting. AlbertoContador is secure in first place and probably won’t be caught. Behind him, though, things are wide open. Lance Armstrong is in second and will be fighting for his life to stay on the podium. Andy Schleck, who is in second, will be fighting hard to at least maintain that position, and will try as hard as he can to catch Contador off-guard and pull off the miracle and take the lead. He’ll work in this stage as he always has with his brother Frank. Frank sits in sixth right now and will desperately want to secure a podium spot. The rest of the top ten will be fighting for position as well. That all sets up for a thrilling, brutal, tactical race that should see people pushing themselves right to their limits and beyond. It’s drama on the highest level, and you don’t have to be an avid fan of the Tour to appreciate it. Check it out.

Edit: Not to say I told you so, but Affliction reportedly ceased operations tonight.

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