Seems strange doesn’t it? In a span of two days Affliction went from putting together one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport to a failed organization who had cozied back into bed with its sworn enemy of the last two years – the UFC. How did this turn of events happen so quickly and how come more people aren’t asking ‘How did Affliction get the UFC deal done so quickly?’ Maybe everyone saw it coming, just like Affliction did.
Affliction folding was sad for the fighters who had trained so hard for so long and in the end will get nothing. Sad is probably an understatement. Likely feels like a tragedy for them. And now with seemingly zero competition in the marketplace the UFC will have free reign over the sport and its monopoly will continue. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably good for the long term health of the sport. There is no competition for the NFL, NHL or NBA. Some could argue the same for NASCAR, a business model the UFC has mimicked (and has openly discussed this fact). Those leagues have no competition and they work very well. Their stars make millions and the fringe players make more than almost all of us. The UFC can hopefully do the same for MMA athletes.
In a matter of 48 hours Affliction went from hating the UFC and trying to crush them with a monster card to being one of their major in-cage sponsors. What?! How could they have come up with a deal so quickly?
It’s no secret that Affliction met with the UFC back in October to try to mend fences. Affliction offered to quit running an MMA fight promotion and in return the UFC would allow fighters to wear Affliction clothing into the ring. The ban on Affliction impacted some of the biggest names in the sport including Georges St. Pierre, Randy Couture and Rampage Jackson. Rumor was that they couldn’t come to a deal and Affliction and the UFC went their separate ways. UFC off to make millions promoting fights and Affliction to give it one more kick at the can.
Then it really came crashing down for Affliction. Earlier last week Josh Barnett tested positive for a record third time and Affliction was left with no main event. I believe Affliction VP Tom Atencio went looking for three people.
1. Vitor Belfort – to inform him he would be fighting Fedor if the card can be saved.
2. Brett Rogers – because looking for a legitimate heavyweight would give this ‘search’ more credibility.
3. But the most important person for Atencio was probably Dana White and the UFC.
Atencio was likely exhausted and had enough. How can you blame him? The writing was on the wall for Affliction as a fight promotion. Affliction had made millions selling clothing, lost millions selling us on the virtues of one incredible Russian fighter whom a large portion of MMA fans had never heard of and finally said ‘No Mas.’ No more. I quit.
Atencio probably pulled out the agreement that they hadn’t been able to come to terms on 9 months ago and asked for both parties to sign. Atencio avoided a heart attack by a few minutes and Affliction was back in the fold with the UFC. Fighters and some fans were upset and you can’t blame them. But I can’t blame Affliction either.
At the end of the day Affliction saw this coming and may have used Barnett’s positive test as an opportunity to get the heck out of this MMA fight promotion business. They were losing millions and Trilogy would have only added more to their insurmountable debt.
Taking the positives out of the venture, Affliction provided a significant amount of money to a number of fighters and the failed promotion brought a significant amount of publicity. Maybe that’s what they wanted that all along.
In the end they saw their demise coming from a mile away. But the truth is, didn’t we all?