Tom Atencio

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If you haven’t heard yet, rumors of Affliction’s demise started spreading like wildfire last night when a reader claimed Affliction would be shutting down it’s fight promotion after it holds it’s third event. This information was allegedly corroborated by an appearance Tom Atencio made on “The Tom Leykis Show” where he said, “The third show will be it. We dived into the MMA buisness for a reason. To put on good fights. We have done nothing but that. The third show will be it for us. We are taking a break.”

However, Atencio quickly denied those rumors when he spoke to MMA Junkie, even claiming whoever appeared on “The Tom Leykis Show” was not him.

“It’s a complete lie. I don’t know where it came from…We’re looking at three to four months when we’ll do the next fight. The bottom line is we’re here. We’re coming up on the next event, and we’ll give the date pretty soon…I’ve never even been on the ‘Tom Leykis Show.’ The biggest radio show that I’ve been on is ‘Frosty, Heidi and Frank,’ which is the same radio station. But I’ve never been on ‘The Tom Leykis Show’…It’s crazy. At least people are talking about us. It’s a new market that I’ve never been on.”

Atencio then appeared on Hardcore Sports Radio and further addressed the rumors.

“With the whole onslaught of the Internet and everything else, rumors just fly,” he said. “I could make a rumor right now and say, ‘B.J. Penn got hurt, and he’s not fighting tomorrow, so go cancel your tickets.’ All of the sudden, everyone is going to start believing it. It’s not true. It’s that people get on the Internet and start making up lies, and people start to believe it. And without checking facts, there’s all these other Internet sites — these not so legitimate Internet sites — and they post it. People believe it. They read it and say, ‘It must be true.’ It’s not true. I’m here.

I’m not going under. It’s not going to happen.”

So, who to believe? It’s tough one. I trust the guys at Bloody Elbow wouldn’t promote this story unless they truly believed their reader had actual “inside” information. They’re not the types to recklessly spread rumors just for attention. Plus, it’s not like it would be any stretch of the imagination that Affliction was hanging it up. That said, there’s a few things that don’t seem right about this one.

Why would Affliction announce they were closing up shop now, yet still hold a third show in a few months? That doesn’t make any sense. Sure, they have contractual obligations to their fighters, but even if they couldn’t just flat out release them without penalty, it would seem they could at least buy their way out them for a lot cheaper than holding a third event. I’m by no means an expert on contracts, and perhaps the situation is much more complicated, but it seems there would be a multitude of more favorable exit strategies. Furthermore, if they are looking for a way out, why would they tip their hand so soon and lose any leverage they may have left in negotiations with potential buyers or Zuffa as the BE story suggests?

And then there’s the alleged appearance on “The Tom Leykis Show.” In the day and age when literally everything that is recorded on audio and video makes it’s way onto the internet, would Atencio really be foolish enough to lie about it if he really was on the show? Tom definitely has a way of contradicting himself and others in the organization, but I don’t think he’s an idiot. But, just in case, I’m digging into this a little further to find out if he was on the show or not.

So for now, I’m going to give Tom the benefit of the doubt. It’s certainly possible this is another public figure denying the truth up until the very last minute, much like every other dying company in the history of time, but at this point, all I’ve seen is rumors that raise one too many questions.

Moving on, there’s all been a lot of speculation about Affliction DoR’s pay-per-view buys. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said he was pleasantly surprised by preliminary estimates and Dana White claims they did “horrible, horrible” numbers, but there has yet to be an actual number attached to them. Well, it appears Kevin Iole has dug up some numbers, and depending on who he talked to, they range anywhere from 80,000-200,000 buys.

Even if, as White insists, Affliction’s tickets were given away, the tickets were at least used and weren’t dropped into a waste container. One high-level source said that Affliction’s pay-per-view did about 10 percent less than its inaugural show in July. The source said the first show finished with between 90,000 and 100,000 sales, while the second show did between 80,000 and 90,000.

Tom Atencio, the vice president of Affliction Entertainment, said he didn’t have final numbers and isn’t likely to make them public when he gets them. He insisted the first Affliction show did well more than 100,000 and said last week’s show did better.

Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions and Affliction’s partner, said he understood that the pay-per-view would come in between 175,000 and 200,000.

That’s a pretty broad range, but if Affliction did indeed significantly improve upon their first outing, I find it hard to imagine they would throw in the towel now. Every start-up loses money in the beginning. That’s the nature of business, but if you’re making progress, especially this early in the game, why quit when you’re moving in a positive direction?