Almost as soon as Affliction’s debut mixed martial arts event ended, news and rumors about the numbers and their second event started flowing. For the most part, the MMA media saw “Banned” as a success. Affliction VP Tom Atencio claimed it did over a 100,000 PPV buys, which would be a first for any non-UFC MMA event in North America. The live gate numbers for “Banned” rivaled the UFC’s shows that had visited The Honda Center before it. Affliction II news was leaked only a week after “Banned” had wrapped up. Their next show would take place in the UFC’s backyard, Las Vegas, on October 11, and Fedor Emelianenko would return to defend his shiny new WAMMA Heavyweight Championship belt.
Sounds like they were well on their way to giving the UFC a run for their money, right?
Well, maybe not. For all the good news that comes out, it seems as if a report quickly follows to refute it. Here’s a quick rundown.
- Total attendance: 14,832; Tickets Sold: 11,242; Live Gate: $2,085,510
- Report comes out claiming $500,000 worth of tickets were bought by Affliction. Atencio later confirms Affliction did purchase tickets, however won’t confirm dollar amount.
- Tom Atencio claims Affliction did “well beyond 100,000″ pay-per-view buys.
- Dave Meltzer reports early cable industry estimates put the number of buys somewhere between 50,000 and 85,000. Atencio still stands by the 100,000+ figure, although refuses to release actual numbers.
- Kevin Iole reports Affliction II will take place at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on October 11. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski will headline.
- Tom Atencio states in an interview that Las Vegas is not finalized and October 11 doesn’t look to be working out. “Andrei Arlovski vs Fedor Emelianenko” is apparently changed to “Andrei Arlovski vs. TBD” on T&M Center website. Vadim Finkelstein, Fedor’s manager, wants to work with the UFC now, which isn’t going to work out, but raises the questions of what Finkelstein plans to do with Fedor in the coming months.
Fighter Pay Cuts
- Despite seemingly good numbers, Affliction reportedly still took a multi-million dollar loss on the first event. Atencio states Affliction can’t continue to take losses like that on future shows. Says fighters will have to work with them to fight on future cards. Cutting costs, trying to set themselves up for profitability in the future.
- Dave Meltzer reports Affliction asking for 50% pay cut from fighters in exchange for easier opponents. Josh Barnett, despite being “buddy-buddy” with Atencio, says he will not take a pay cut. No word yet on other fighter’s willingness or lack thereof, although one has to wonder if questions surrounding Fedor’s participation at Affliction II has anything to do with these pay cuts.
Also worthy to note is the possibility of Tito Ortiz signing with Affliction. It is believed that his 60-day “match” period expires on Monday, Aug 4, so we should be hearing something about him as soon as next week. He would become their most valuable asset if they can get him at a reasonable cost.
So what does this all mean for Affliction? Well, if you take a look at nearly any MMA blog that’s run a similar story, the comments sections are laden with predictions of Affliction’s impending doom. Many believe a second show won’t even happen. Is it possible? Yes, but I think people are jumping to conclusions a little too quick. Affliction is an upstart MMA promotion. Problems are guaranteed to arise, although they brought some of them on themselves.
The most important question is if the primary backers of the promotion—Donald Trump for instance—are patient enough to allow Affliction time to work through these issues and show signs that profitability is a realistic possibility. If the losses came as a shock to the ones holding the cash, then yes, there’s likely trouble behind the scenes. I would hope they would have known major losses were all but guaranteed.
In short, I think it’s premature to start calling the time of death at this point. Affliction is supposed to be holding a press conference next Wednesday, August 6, to announce their next show. Answers should come soon enough.