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Affliction MMA aiming to push UFC

Elite XC may have fired the first shot in the battle to provide the Ultimate Fighting Championship a real competitor, but Affliction MMA is doing its best to strike a more direct blow.

Elite XC got its event on CBS, but controversy and inferior talent, especially in the main event, limited the boost network television otherwise could have provided.

Affliction, which shares its name with the popular mixed martial arts clothing company behind the project, could be a different story. The startup promotion will host its first card July 19 in Anaheim, Calif., with a heavyweight division that already rivals that of the UFC.

Three former UFC champions in the heavyweight division will be in action. Fedor Emelianenko, widely considered the best heavyweight in the world, will fight former UFC champion Tim Sylvia.

Former heavyweight champions Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett also will be featured.

Now comes news that the promotion has added a major investor, as Donald Trump has become a partner in the new organization. He not only brings a seemingly endless revenue stream, but also a name to help in mainstream promotion of the events.

The addition of the New York-based mogul also could open two other doors for Affliction, the first being a connection to free agent Tito Ortiz.

Ortiz hit the open market after finishing his UFC contract with a loss to Lyoto Machida at the MGM Grand last month. Ortiz was a contestant on the celebrity edition of Trump’s game show, “The Apprentice,” and Trump attended Ortiz’s loss to Machida, even sitting with Ortiz’s girlfriend, Jenna Jameson.

Trump is also influential in New York, where the UFC long has fought for mixed martial arts regulation. So far, the efforts have been fruitless.

But if Trump used his power to push the process, Affliction could beat the UFC into the lucrative New York market.

• UFC SCHEDULE — The UFC’s next two events will take place in Las Vegas.

Up next is the finale of Season 7 of the organization’s reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter,” on June 21 at the Palms.

In addition to the fights featuring competitors from the show, the Spike TV (Cable 29) card will feature a main event between Kendall Grove and Evan Tanner.

UFC 86 follows on July 5 at Mandalay Bay, featuring Quinton Jackson defending his light heavyweight crown against Forrest Griffin.

• FREE EVENT — The mixed martial arts portion of the combined boxing and MMA event at the Thomas & Mack Center on June 20 features several familiar names.

The main event of the MMA portion pits former UFC fighters John Alessio and Pete Spratt against each other.

Kim Couture, a Las Vegan and the wife of Randy Couture, also will fight on the card.

All 16,000 free tickets have been distributed through unlvtickets.com.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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