by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
After months of hush-hush negotiations and a rumor mill working overtime, clothing company Affliction has stepped out of the shadows to announce its entry into fight promotion.
In an appearance on “Inside MMA” last week, Affliction vice president Tom Atencio announced a card to be held July 19 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., featuring a laundry list of top fighters including the ever-elusive Fedor Emelianenko.
Several published reports have put Emelianenko’s asking price at between $1.5 and $2 million. “Not true,” Atencio told MMAWeekly.com. “They’re rumors, they’re all rumors.”
So how then did Affliction secure the world’s most expensive fighter?
Atencio wouldn’t disclose Emelianenko’s base pay, but said, “It’s a considerable amount of money, but it’s not what everybody says.”
Still, with names like Fedor Emelianenko, Tim Sylvia, Josh Barnett, and Matt Lindland – all high-priced free agents – it’s apparent that the promotion is starting in the red. Atencio says that’s fine. He doesn’t expect the July 19 show to make money.
“I don’t see how anybody can,” he said. “The only people who are making money in this business are the UFC and Scott Coker with Strikeforce. Do we plan on making money this first show? Absolutely not. The second and third? Hopefully.”
Plans for a second show in October and a third in February will round out the first phase of Affliction’s new venture. At that point, Atencio and his partners will decide whether they still want to be carnival barkers.
“This is new to us, so we’re going to take it step by step,” he said.
Already, Affliction has attracted the ire of existing promoters, particularly the Ultimate Fighting Championship, who banned them as a fighter sponsor. EliteXC followed suit shortly after, echoing the Las Vegas based organization’s non-compete policy. In a conference call for EliteXC’s upcoming “Saturday Night Fights” card on May 31 on CBS, president of live events Gary Shaw took a swipe at Affliction.
“I think they should stick to the clothing business,” Shaw said. “I predict they will do one or two shows and then go back to making clothing.”
Atencio said he understands the arrows slung his way, though he didn’t expect Affliction to be banned by the UFC. As a lifelong fan of the sport, he simply sees his company’s venture as a natural extension of their success in the clothing industry.
“We’ve been involved in the industry as far as the clothing side of it, and I’ve been personally involved in MMA for over 16 years. I’m a huge fan of the sport so it just makes sense for us at this point,” he said.
Affliction plans to hold press conferences with several of its fighters on May 20 in Los Angeles and May 22 in New York.