The following is an official transcript of the Affliction: Day Of Reckoning conference call prior to the event:
Tom Atencio: I am Tom Atencio and I'm the vice president of Affliction Entertainment.
As you know, it stands to be an exciting event. It is stacked from top to bottom. This event – nowhere else will you find so many A-list fighters all together in one show. Once again, it's stacked from top to bottom and it promises to be an exciting event.
Kelly Swanson: Renato, if you could make a brief comment?
Renato Sobral: Yes. I've been training hard – I look forward to this fight on January 24. It's going to be awesome. I can't wait to fight and then go back to my seat and watch all those fights. It's going to be a pretty exciting show; fun to fight, fun to watch.
Chris Horodecki: How are you doing? Glad to be here. Ready to start the night off for Affliction and just ready to be a part of it.
Vladimir Matyushenko: Hi everybody. Same thing very excited to be part of it. Training hard, actually just finished my session right now. I'm still, breathing hard. So, I am looking forward to it – I've already fought this guy (Antonio Nogueira). He's a really tough opponent and it's going to be a great fight.
Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com: My first question is for Babalu. You're fighting Sokoudjou. Obviously your fight with Southworth was very impressive. Sokoudjou kind of brings a different approach to the game. He's known for judo throw and he's very, very physically strong – a lot like Southworth. Are you preparing in any way to deal with his judo and his striking and if so, how?
Renato Sobral: Well, I am prepared – I have been training for Strikeforce and I'll just keep the training going and of course, I have to prepare a little bit for Sokoudjou's strike, but I have to respect his judo skills of course. I respect all his skills, but I know what I have to do to win this fight and I don't have anything special prepared for Sokoudjou – actually, I plan to stay away from his right hand because it's very dangerous. I just have to push the pace of the fight and I know how it's going to end – it's going to end with me finishing the fight – probably going to submit.
Franklin McNeil: Wow. I have another question for you, Babalu. When it comes to experience, as good a fighter as Sokoudjou is, he really doesn't stack up when it comes to experience and the quality of opposition in his face even though he's faced Machida who is a very good fighter. How important is experience in this fight, do you believe?
Renato Sobral: That's right, it counts a lot when you have more experience in your background because you know all (defeats) going or have been pretty much. But, no the truth is that it doesn't matter – if you have one hundred fights in the bag or one fight – minutes before the fight everybody pretty much does the same and that's where you have to control more emotions over there, like minutes before the fight. But this really doesn't matter very much because some kids – just coming up right now, they already know how to control and I don't know. I know I was lucky. I had like a rough time, and an easy time .If you don't train hard – if you don't train properly for the fight, you'll probably be more nervous than you should.
Franklin McNeil: Okay, great. My next question is for Vladimir. Vladimir, you've been off, going into this fight will be, just under a year. Is the layoff something that you're concerned about at all?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Well, I could get used to it. I mean, I haven't before but I'm not saying it's how I like it. It definitely can be a factor for a fighter to be as sharp if you have to fight every three, four months but, you can do what you can do. But like I said, I've had layoffs before and I get out of them, pretty well.
Franklin McNeil: I want to ask that same question to Chris because your last fight was, I believe last April. I think it was actually here in New Jersey was your last fight.
Chris Horodecki: Yes, yes it was New Jersey.
Franklin McNiel: Right, and going into that fight, you were coming off your first loss as a pro. Obviously you're back on track now in the win column but how – with this layoff, would you have preferred to fight sooner and do you think this layoff will affect you in any way?
Chris Horodecki: Yeah, it is definitely probably the longest layoff I've ever had. You know me, but I kept myself busy, basically having to live through my training partners. And I've kept, going into hard training just because I would start camping and right when I was into the camp, somebody would be pulled out. It doesn't compare to having, a real live fight. Nothing gives you that feel of somebody going full tilt at you. It doesn't even matter how hard your sparing is, but I've been maintaining in the gym. I've been doing the right things and training with the right people so I would keep myself busy. So no, I'm not too worried and I think I won't be too ring rusty. I think I'll be on point and ready to go.
Franklin McNeil: Okay, my last question is for you Tom. As the obvious, I asked Chris and I asked Vladimir about their time off and it's been, for a lot of fighters they like to fight every – you know, at least twice or two or three times a year. How many shows do you hope to put on this year?
Tom Atencio: We're looking at possibly four. Right now, I just look at the next fight. For me, we're a new organization and this is only our second event so I'm looking at this event, once I get closer and passed this event, then I'll look at the next one. But right now, to answer your question, we're looking at four this year.
Michael David Smith, AOL Sports: Babalu, I just wanted to ask you, I think your last four fights have been for four different organizations. Could you just talk a little bit about how different organizations treat the fighters and which organization you think is the best to work for?
Renato Sobral: I have been fortunate every time I've worked with all these organizations. Everybody in America right now is very professional and they treat all the fighters pretty much the same and professionally. It's very important. Just about, you don't have to be privileged to anybody, you just have to be treated as a sport, as an athlete. And everybody pretty much treats me the same, but of course, you have some organizations that you like to fight more, fight there, fight here and because I feel more comfortable – I feel comfortable anywhere, but Tom has been my friend for a long time, if you feel like you're at home, you know what I mean? So, they have treated me very well.
Michael David Smith: Babalu, do you have bad feelings about how you left UFC?
Renato Sobral: I don't have bad feelings at all. Things happen for a reason, first thing – first of all, things happen for a reason. And the second, I made a mistake and I had to pay for that so I've already paid it so I don't have anything to talk about anymore.
Michael David Smith: Fair enough. And then Tom, just following up on that, can you talk about what it is that Affliction offers a fighter just as far as why Affliction in your view, is a good place for a fighter to work?
Tom Atencio: I think that the difference is we're not so concerned with our brand. Our brand has already been built and for us, the fighter is a little bit more important and we're trying to make these guys the stars that they are. I think that's number one. Number two, most of the guys I've already had a relationship with them through our brand and they know me, they trust me and we work well together. I think that – like Babalu just said, it is a home. I've known Babalu for quite some time now. I've known quite a few of the fighters for quite some time now so, I think that's a better question asked of the fighters because, I have a lot of them coming to me and asking me to fight for me and that's a great feeling, I think, that they trust me and I think that they know that if I say I'm going to do something, hopefully eight or nine times out of ten, I come through. I'm not perfect and I'm always going to make mistakes and I get busy, but hopefully they know that they have a home here and they feel comfortable, like Babalu said.
Joshua Stein, Fightpicker.com: I would like to start with Tom. I got all my questions sort of in order here. Who are you looking at with respect to future matchups for Fedor if he should beat Arlovski? Josh Barnett kind of backed out of that fight and I'm not sure if you are trying to get that matchup to happen at some point – any thoughts on that?
Tom Atencio: No, you know, first of all, let me correct you, Josh did not back out of that fight. There were issues that we were talking about and those are between Josh and I, but by no means did he back out of that fight. Second, whoever the winner is of Barnett versus Yvel, they would, be next in line in contention to fight Fedor if he wins. If Arlovski wins, then it works the same way. It is basically tournament style if you will, whoever wins the Barnett vs. Yvel fight versus whoever wins the Arlovski Emelianeko fight?
Joshua Stein: All right. That's good to know. You guys have a great card, I'm really happy that you guys have managed to put that together. My next question is for Vladimir. You're fighting a guy who has got great jujitsu. You've fought him before. Obviously you've got the wrestling background and maybe control where the fights ends up. So this is kind of a technical question, I understand if you don't want to go into game plan details. Can you work on the ground with him or not?
Vladimir Matyushenko: I'll prepare to do both. If I have a wrestling skill, but you can't really beat anybody by wrestling. You can dictate where a fight is going to be – it's going to be on the ground or on the feet. I prefer standard game with him, but if something comes up, I don't mind to go on the ground. I know he has a great skills as far as submission goes and – but I can stay away from them.
Joshua Stein: That's really good to hear. Babalu, you're fighting a guy who's fought three really great, resilient fighters – guys with great submission games in two of those fights. He ended real quickly with that right hand, so is there any sort of nationality factor now that you have Machida who is a Brazilian and you have him beating two Brazilians. Is there sort of a country pride thing going on there?
Renato Sobral: I don't think, of course I love my country, but I don't think of it like that – as a country war or something – I just think there's – just one more athlete I have to beat. He's a very humble guy so it's not personal. It's just sport. It's nice when somebody talks shit about you, but it's not to humble a sport.
Joshua Stein: Chris, I do actually have a question. Do you want another fight with Ryan Schultz?
Chris Horodecki: You know, absolutely, if the opportunity presents itself. We're at different stages in our careers. He's doing the Japan thing right now and I'm with these guys, but it doesn't have to happen today or tomorrow but one day down the road, definitely we can do a rubber match and get it, settle the score.
Jeff Howard, Promma.info: Tom – just a real quick question. Has the California State Athletic Commission granted Gilbert a license?
Tom Atencio: Yes, they are going to look at him again when he gets here in the beginning of January, but so far I've been in contact with them via email and so far we've tried to cover our bases and make sure that it's not going to be something where he shows up and, Josh is preparing for him and at the last minute he's denied. So yes, so far they've said it's okay and I'm definitely making sure that everything is covered.
Jeff Howard: Excellent, okay. Along that questioning line, I know somebody else already asked this but you said Josh Barnett or the winner of Barnett vs. Yvel will get a title shot next – do you really think that Gilbert Yvel is a top ten opponent for Josh or is that just the only person you guys could pin in?
Tom Atencio: I don't think I would be putting him against him if I didn't, think Gilbert's – ready – he's a great fighter. I don't know any other guy that comes out as hard as Gilbert does, and he brings it whether he wins or loses, he still brings it.
I think that, yeah, he had a few problems, but what fighter hasn't? And maybe he's taken a little different, but I think he's changed and hopefully, I know Josh well enough that I think Josh is going to come out and stand and bang with him and it's going to make for an exciting fight so absolutely.
Jeff Howard: You and Upgrade are pretty evenly matched. Can you go into any game plan or what's going quite possibly the most exciting fight to call to be honest and I'm just wondering if that's your game plan.
Chris Horodecki: I think it's very different for both of us. Usually we both get put up against guys that much older than us and I think it's going to be a real exciting fight because you're going to see two guys that are, young and hungry and want to win and want to, keep their career moving. And we're going to lay it on the line. I don't want to say too too much about what I plan on doing, but I do plan on coming out on top and bringing things to the table that Dan hasn't seen before so I don't want to say too too much. You guys will see on fight night.
Jeff Howard: Vladimir, you've already fought Rogerio but looking past this fight, not to say who is going to win and who is not but looking past this fight, who is next for you do you think? Do you think you'd like to fight Babalu?
Vladimir Matyushenko: Yeah, there's a possibility. I like him; he's a friend of mine. Hi Babalu. But, you know, some point, in this business some point there's possibility you can – you know, I'm not saying I'd really want to knock him out and beat the crap out of him but if it comes to the job.
Jeff Howard: OkayI understand it's just a job but just looking at the depth of the light heavyweight division it would be obvious that you…
Vladimir Matyushenko: Yeah, light heavyweight division as far as right now in Affliction, you have Sokoudjou, you have Babalu, you have Tito Ortiz if he wants to come in. That would be I want a piece of that action, if Tito's coming.
Jeff Howard: Okay, then one last quick question for Babalu. Somebody else alluded to this as well with experience – Sokoudjou has only had what? Maybe eight professional fights, do you see this as a fair matchup with you and him?
Renato Sobral: Well, he's guy – very vigorous fighter. He's already proven maybe he doesn't have good luck in – under the UFC but that's why he's no doubt he's on this – fight in lightweight division.
Dan Step, MMAjunkie.com: Tom, I've got a couple of quick questions for you. The first event drew almost; I think it was 15,000 fans. Can you tell me how many seats will be available for this event and how many you've sold so far?
Tom Atencio: The event's going really, really well. It's selling – we're real extremely happy about how it's going. I can't give you exact numbers. I'm not even sure to be honest with you. I know that I've compared them recently and it's pretty comparable to the last event. Having said that, I think we are – it was 13,499 or something like that last time. I think we're at about – the event is going to be around 15,000 this time.
Dan Step: Are you expecting a sellout? Is that you guys' ultimate goal for this?
Tom Atencio: Well yeah, I mean, obviously it's our ultimate goal and I'm pretty optimistic about it too. Like I said, sales are going really well, and this event, it speaks for itself. You look at the caliber of talent that I have on the phone right now and the caliber that's on the event. I think that you're not going to see another event with this caliber of talent all tighter in one night.
Dan Step: That's a good point about the – especially the main card and I know it's not something you like to talk about but, do you have a target for the number of pay-per-view buys or is there a certain number you're shooting for?
Tom Atencio: Well, you know, every time I do something I want to improve. I don't want to go back. So last time we did well over a hundred thousand which nobody else has been able to do in history. I mean, if you look at any other even that's come out, we came out like gangbusters and we're looking to do it again. So we're hoping to work off the momentum of the first one and continue forward.
So, I'm looking to do more than that but you never know. There's a lot of factors and sometimes I feel like Sisyphus. I feel like I have a boulder on my back walking up a hill but that's okay. I love the challenge and I know my partners do as well.
Dan Step: Who, with all the competition that month from the UFC and WEC and even Golden Boy, do you feel like it makes it that much tougher to kind of match the success you had from that first event?
Tom Atencio: You know, once again, like I said, I feel like I have a boulder on my back and I'm walking up a hill. You know, I think the WEC and the UFC, they are going to do what they need to do to make themselves successful and to block us in every way shape or form. I think the Golden Boy thing is a non-issue.
I've spoke about this many times and I'm always asked this question and it's a non-issue. I don't see the boxing and MMA crossover as of just yet so once again, I think it's a non-issue but the other – the other ones, you know the UFC tried to block us and they counterprogrammed us and it really didn't hurt us.
It obviously made a small effect but, you know, they are going to do what they need to do to protect their business. And, you know, all I can say is bring the challenge on and hopefully I can step up and my partners, and Kelly Swanson and everybody involved can step up and make this successful and show that they're not the only game in town.
Matt De La Rosa, Promma.info: You talked about doing four shows in the upcoming year. Do you have any particular venues that you're looking at to hold those events at right now?
Tom Atencio: Right now I'm not. I say it all the time, for me, this is only our second event. Having said that, our first one was very successful but for me, I like to look at each event as it comes and try not to – almost like a fight, I don't want to take it for granted and to make sure that it's successful, I focus on this event and once we're done with this event then I look towards the next one. Our plan is, with Golden Boy to do four events this year and for me, right now Honda Center is a great venue, we have a good relationship and I'd like to continue with good relationships but having said that, I think it makes sense to branch out and take our events to other places, but I rely on Golden Boy for that. They are the experts in that, and they let us do what we do well and we let them do what they do best. So, right now we're looking at four.
Matt De La Rosa: How important is your relationship with HDNet heading into 2009 and beyond for Affliction?
Tom Atencio: Well, I think all of our relationships are important. I think our relationship with HDNet, I think our relationship that we have, had and continue to have with FSN, now Showtime pay-per-view, Golden Boy, M1 Global, WAMMA, everybody. You know, they are all important to me so, HDNet is one of the leaders when it comes to MMA and so to answer your question, very important.
Matt De La Rosa: Tom, when did you make the final decision to scrap the Babalu vs. Matt Lindland bout? What was the determining factor in deciding to go forward with Babalu vs. Sokoudjou and Lindland vs. Belfort?
Tom Atencio: Lindland and Belfort, they've been asking for that fight. Both of those guys, they want to fight each other so I think it's just a great matchup. It is two guys that are really hungry and they want to fight each other. The Babalu and Lindland–Babalu and I sat down, we spoke about it, and it's a good matchup, but at the same time it's difficult for any fighter to cut weight to what they normally fight at but personally I think that was asking a lot of Babalu, and he's a friend and we sat down, and we just both came to a decision together and decided to keep him in his weight class that he's and keep Matt at his weight class. It just worked out. Thierry came up and I think it's a great matchup and it worked out to our benefit for sure.
END OF CALL
Promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and brought to you by Affliction Entertainment and its partners, Donald J. Trump and M-1 Global, Affliction “Day of Reckoning” is scheduled for January 24 Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. The loaded fight card includes 11 rousing bouts of fierce, full-throttle action headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski. The six-fight blockbuster PPV telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, features MMA stars Josh Barnett, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Chris Horodecki and Matt Lindland in separate bouts. As a prelude to the highly anticipated PPV telecast, HDNet will televise live beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT five additional fights with the marquee match-up of Antonio Nogueira vs. Vladimir Matyushenko as the main event.
Ticket prices range from $50-$450 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster (available online at www.ticketmaster.com or at all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 714-740-2000) and at Honda Center Box Office (714-704-2500).