Affliction MMA was a flash in the pan struggle promotion that managed to pull off two events again in 2008-2009, but what a vivid flash in the pan it was. Mostly a clothes corporation that had taken in excess of a massive portion of MMA trend and fighter sponsorships, Affliction discovered itself banned from the UFC after an advertisement campaign that includes Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture experiencing off led the UFC to feel an attempted talent coup was in the will work.
Whether it was or not is even now a make any difference of debate, but at the time ousted from the UFC Affliction did without a doubt get started its very own marketing and go to war with the UFC … a war the UFC managed to acquire but not ahead of Affliction managed to hold the very first non-UFC MMA party to offer six determine shell out-for every-perspective numbers.
James Lynch caught up with Affliction MMA head Tom Atencio to capture up on his new gig accomplishing commentary for North Star Beat and request about some of that wild history.
“I’m not heading to dwell on the past and I’m not likely to search again, simply because if I do it is probably heading to bum me out,” Atencio claimed when questioned about his memories of Affliction MMA. “I suggest, seem at in which Dana White is and glimpse the place I am. You know that is just the severe realities of it, and and I can look again and I can go God if I experienced done this proper or I’d performed this ideal, or possibly I did not screw off so substantially, it’s possible I did not if I didn’t consume so a great deal or whatsoever it is. But at the finish of the day it’s the earlier and I’m not likely to dwell on it and so I’m seeking forward to this new chapter in my existence.”
“We truly were just one of the only companies to go head to head with them and I feel that um … that was a very good and a negative thing,” he stated. “I assume we possibly should not have taken on so considerably, particularly when you’re working with persons like the Fertittas, and I assume truly that is that’s what it was is a pretty eye-opening experience. If I seem back again and see who I was dealing with, I don’t imagine I was completely ready for it. I really do not assume that I recognized – I know I did not notice – the caliber of business enterprise that I was really in.”
The UFC has a background of becoming really ruthless when battling other organizations making an attempt to develop something larger than a regional promotion, and the gloves had been seriously off with Affliction. The UFC counter-programmed their initially party and normally made everyday living as difficult for Atencio and his companions at each turn. When a headline fight for Affliction’s 3rd function fell apart past 2nd among Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett, Affliction was compelled to terminate the celebration outright lest they open up the doorway to lawsuits.
“I feel it’s it’s like any other organization and when you’re into one thing that was new and you really don’t know all the nuts and bolts, you really don’t know all the things about the market, I consider you make modest issues,” Atencio discussed. “And if I keep in mind effectively, it was simply because we didn’t place ‘card subject to change’ on the posters. Yeah, smaller very little facts, and which is a little something that I’ll under no circumstances ignore, so I’m really confident which is what it was. And since we didn’t have that on the posters and the flyers and every thing else, it led the business to prospective lawsuits from people today that did not know that this card was transformed.”
It certainly wasn’t for absence of a respectable substitution fighter to face Fedor.
“We have been talking to Vitor Belfort, that was really anything that was discussed,” Atencio stated. “Oh yeah we ended up conversing, he was stepping up, and there have been a whole lot of other people also.”
Affliction MMA’s functions were ridiculously stacked even by 2009 criteria, before the watered down playing cards we see these times with weekly UFC reveals. Their to start with function showcased Fedor Emelianenko, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Ben Rothwell, Josh Barnett, Pedro Rizzo, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, and Matt Lindland on the principal card, even though the prelims highlighted Vitor Belfort, Lil Nog, and Gary Goodridge. Affliction was recognised for splashing fighters with funds, cutting mid to large six determine checks for fighters throughout the business. Quite a few felt that was the large reason the promotion fell apart in the conclude, but in accordance to Atencio the marketing was generating the money again through shirt profits.
“I do not feel individuals understood it was a major huge professional for Affliction,” he reported. “It definitely was, and that is what it was. I suggest as soon as we started off having the situations, we begun offering more shirts. It was like it was like operating television adverts, you know, in in the MMA field and it genuinely did aid boost revenue for the outfits line. Individuals didn’t understand that we were generating dollars, we were ready to not only make funds in the fight market, a minimal little bit of it again, but it was truly coming again to us in the in the product sales of garments.”
As for the UFC’s first final decision to ban Affliction more than that fateful Fedor vs. Randy advertising poster? Tom says it was just a significant misunderstanding.
“The fact, it was type of like a stunt,” he explained. “It genuinely was just some thing that they ended up both donning Affliction shorts, it was just a little something to enable market Affliction in the battle business. And then what happened was it got again to the UFC and they assumed that we ended up going to begin a combat firm so they banned us.”
As if that wasn’t adequate evidence that the UFC was really slash-throat when it came to competition, Atencio also shared a idea he experienced about a mole in his corporation.
“Now I don’t have finish proof, and this is likely to audio conspiracy principle, and it’s going to audio actually bad,” Atencio mentioned. “This is the very first time I’ve ever advised any person this. It is my being familiar with that my assistant was doing the job for Dana White or was doing the job for the UFC even though operating for me. For the reason that following I glance back again in 2020, with hindsight staying 20/20, soon after I glance back, this particular person that was performing for me was normally telling me things, ‘Dana has spies they are always checking on you blah blah blah.’”
“I often fearful about who I’m conversing to but then following the struggle organization stopped, this particular person has their own function now. And they under no circumstances experienced the dollars to to start out their have business. And it’s an business that is a feeder organization for the UFC … so you know, you variety of place the parts together and it’s quite insane.”
Atencio did not name names, but Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp did work for him again in the Affliction MMA times, and she does now operate a feeder group for the UFC. There is no proof delivered or even actually any certain accusations from Atencio of wrongdoing on his unnamed assistant’s portion. But it’s surely an intriguing very little element in the all out war amongst Affliction MMA and the UFC.
One more intriguing element from Affliction MMA’s history: the participation of Donald Trump as a promotional spouse for the enterprise. The Donald was advertised as a business husband or wife in Affliction MMA, but in truth Affliction MMA was having to pay Trump to be a confront and attract far more interest to the advertising.
“He wasn’t a shareholder in the struggle in side of it, he was far more of a face like myself and someone that introduced legitimacy to the masses,” Atencio confirmed. “It was us form of using him and expressing that he was a shareholder and blah blah blah, he just introduced a whole lot of things that we wouldn’t have been equipped to get with out him becoming associated and so that was his job and and it worked … it labored for both of those of us.”
Affliction MMA was really ahead of the curve when it came to comprehending just how much notice Trump introduced to assignments with his title connected. It did not help you save them in the end, but given the stiff levels of competition and no quarter stance the UFC had taken in direction of the oddball clothes enterprise turned battle advertising, that’s not particularly shocking.