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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Silva fight free on spike July 19, 2008

Anderson Silva to fight on Spike TV on July 19
By D. Meltzer
Dana White today confirmed rumors that UFC would be running a live Spike TV special July 19, head-to-head with the debut of the Affliction company's pay-per-view debut, and announced the hook would be middleweight champion Anderson Silva moving up to light heavyweight to face James Irvin in the main event of a show at The Palms in Las Vegas.

Silva, 21-4, ranked by Yahoo! Sports as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, will not be vacating his middleweight title. At this point the plan is for Silva to use this as a test as a light heavyweight but still defend the middleweight title later in the year.

If all goes right, this could set up Silva to face the likes of Chuck Liddell in what has potential to among the biggest money fights in MMA history.

"I love this guy," said White about Silva. "He'll fight anyone. He wants to fight six times a year. It makes my job harder but I love it. It's the Titos (Ortiz) of the world that ruined the fight game. This guy and Chuck Liddell don't care, they'll fight whoever you put in front of them."

Irvin, 14-4, is primarily a stand-up fighter, who is coming off an eight-second knockout win over Houston Alexander on April 2 in Broomfield, Colo., among the quickest in company history.

The semifinal will feature the return to UFC of Hermes Franca, 18-6, against Frankie Edgar, 8-1. Franca had asked to be released from his UFC contract after testing positive for steroids in a July 7 lightweight title challenge against Sean Sherk. But he recently inked a new deal to return after the completion of his one-year suspension. Franca vs. Edgar had been tentatively scheduled for the Aug. 9, event in Minneapolis.

Wednesday will be a major day for the company as at noon Pacific time, White is going to make the much-talked about major announcement to his staff. He conceded that a lot of fans will think it's a disappointment, but in his view, it's huge, comparing it to the announcement of the Bud Lite sponsorship deal earlier this year, which he thinks as a corporate partner was gigantic but it was not a major story within the MMA world.

It is also the final episode of the season of Ultimate Fighter, which apparently features the craziest season ending in the show's history and will determine the key match on a Saturday night live Spike TV special.

"Within five-to-eight years, this will be the biggest sport in the world," White said. "It will be bigger than the NFL and bigger than World Cup soccer."

Affliction, the latest challenger to UFC, is putting one of the most costly undertakings of any UFC rival with a pay-per-view event July 19 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The card features Fedor Emelianenko, generally conceded as the best heavyweight in MMA history, facing what would be his toughest test in nearly three years against former UFC champion Tim Sylvia. The show features several other former UFC heavyweight stars with Josh Barnett, a former champion, facing Pedro Rizzo, and Andrei Arlovski, another former champion, facing for International Fight League heavyweight standout Ben Rothwell.

White also confirmed Liddell vs. Rashad Evans as the headliner for the company's Sept. 6 show, a debut at Phillips Arena in Atlanta.

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