Affliction: The Good, The Bad, And The Last Emperor
Affliction Entertainment spun off from Affliction Clothing and developed into a semi-powerhouse MMA promotion in 2008. Backed by Donald Trump and HDnet’s owner Mark Cuban, Affliction’s VP, Tom Atencio, is making a run at the MMA market. They held 2 events thus far, Affliction: Banned (July ’08) and Affliction: Day of Reckoning (January ’09) with another one on the horizon, Affliction: Trilogy scheduled for August 1st of this year featuring Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko versus Josh “The Babyfaced Assassin” Barnett in the main event.
The good thing about Affliction is that they feature fighters that fans want to see who for what ever reason are not fighting in the UFC. Fedor is at the top of the list, with other top fighters such as Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Andrei Arlovski, and Gegard Mousasi to follow. Another good thing about Affliction is that they do not hold fighters under contracts that prevent them from fighting in other promotions or sports like the UFC does, such as how Arlovski fought in Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields or how Fedor can compete in sambo.
It is important to have many venues in which fighters can have the opportunity to compete in, especially for new or up-and-coming fighters. Affliction, however, has made it clear that they are going to showcase top fighters and plan to play a major role in the MMA arena. With the first event, Affliction: Banned, getting over 100,000 Pay Per View buys and the second event, Affliction: Day of Reckoning, getting over 150,000 PPV buys, it would seem that they are off to a good start. The UFC, for comparison, averaged over 400,000 PPV buys per event in 2007 and 2008. The UFC is not concerned by Affliction, but that is not to say they are taking this lightly as evident by UFC: Silva vs. Irvin, which was put together on short notice and held the same day as Affliction: Banned and was televised for free on Spike TV. Tom Atencio wants Affliction fighters to fight UFC fighters but the UFC would have nothing to gain by doing that. It would appear, at least at this point, this is going to be a David and Goliath situation, except with a different outcome.
In all of this, Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko is the biggest loser. He is in the top 3 best pound for pound fighters, if not number 1, yet he does not get to fight other heavyweights who are close to him in the heavyweight rankings. People who do not rank Fedor as the number 1 pound for pound fighter cite the lack of quality opponents he has faced. Fedor is carrying Affliction on his back headlining their first 3 events. Despite this fact, he only made $300,000 (no win bonus) in the win versus Tim Sylvia who made $800,000 in the first event. Then in Affliction’s second event, again Fedor made $300,000 in the win versus Andrei Arlovski who made out with a cool $1.5 million. It would be naïve to think that the best fighter should get the most money, but Fedor is a huge draw and without him Affliction might otherwise be Defunction.
Andrei Arlovski’s and Tim Sylvia’s salaries in the first 2 Affliction events show the star power the UFC holds. Fedor obviously does not care about fame and fortune, otherwise he would have given up his sambo career and signed with the UFC. Seemingly, Fedor is the only thing Affliction has above the UFC.