Fresh Sherdog.com scoop indicates that former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett has registered a positive test that has left a marquee Aug. 1 bout with Fedor Emelianenko at "Affliction: Trilogy" on thin ice.
(Barnett tested positive for illicit supplementation in the spring of 2002, denting his win over champion Randy Couture at UFC 36 that March. Barnett disputed the results, citing holes in the handling and protocol of the testing. He remained absent from the U.S. circuit until a 2006 Pride event in Las Vegas.)
This is woeful news for Affliction, which surely will encounter significant problems pulling television advertising on only 11 days' notice. Sherdog reports that a tentative agreement (pending Emelianenko's approval) has been reached with Vitor Belfort, who had been preparing for a middleweight bout and who can't weigh much more than 200 pounds at the moment. Belfort appears rejuvenated, but an extra 30 pounds of Emelianenko is a big load to carry. Another possible replacement is Bobby Lashley, a choice that could cause a minor stir; Lashley would be the best wrestler Emelianenko has faced since Kevin Randleman, who dropped Emelianenko on his danged head
Truth is, there should be a laundry list of athletes getting in line for a late shot at the sport's current king of the ring. Beat him and you're deified; get twisted up and you can lean on the excuse that you had only a few days to prepare. What does anyone have to lose, besides a few veneers?