Measuring the Success of Affliction

As a company, Affliction is already a successful clothing line.  From sales to brand power, it’s getting the job done.

Extending that brand to become a premier MMA organization is a whole other matter.

For Affliction to make the splash they wanted to they dished out big salaries to the widey-regarded top heavyweight in the world, along with other big name and former UFC champions.  A risky proposition for a newly formed organization.  Creating a bigger speedbump was the big kid on the block, the UFC, quickly putting together an event to air, for free on cable, on the same night.

Glancing at the numbers, and given the fan and media reception, it’s likely we’ll see a second event from Affliction.

The money

Salaries were released yesterday by the California State Athletic Commission.  The final sum: $3,321,000

Also reported was paid attendance: $2,085,510

While paid attendance can hardly be trusted as an exact figure, let’s assume it’s close enough to work with here.  If figures are taken at face value, Affliction is only $1,235,490 in the hole from the large salary payout thanks to ticket sales.  With a $39.95 PPV cost, Affliction would have needed approximately 30,925 PPV sales to recoup the rest of that.  Even with the competing UFC event, it’s not an outlandish number (no numbers or approximations were available at the time of this article).

There are far more costs than just fighter salaries, but looking at the numbers we do have, Affliction: Banned looks like it shouldn’t be too far into the red, if not having the potential to turn a profit.

The event and reaction

The top heavyweight in the game took on a top-level opponent for the first time in years and dismantled him in 36 seconds.  Even UFC head Dana White was impressed.  Other fights on the card provided a lot of action for a much more extended period of time.

There were some hiccups, and rookie mistakes during the night, but for the most part, people are talking about the fights and fighters.  A far cry from the first CBS EliteXC show.

John Morgan of MMA Junkie writes that Affliction’s night appears to be a success.

Despite the auspicious beginning, the remainder of the evening flowed smoothly from brutal knockouts to heavy metal performances. For [Affliction Vice President Tom] Atencio, it was a deserving culmination for the months of effort put into the program.

“Now I can take a deep breath,” Atencio admitted. “All I can say is, ‘Wow.’ It was amazing.”

Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! Sports describes Affliction as UFC’s first potential competitor in years.

The Affliction show, with a packed house, had a major-event atmosphere that was a stark difference from most of the promotional opponents UFC has faced off against over the past few years.

The future

The reaction to this event has led to many to ponder what’s next for the new kid on the block, and it’s all about potential here.  More big names, more big fights.

The current favorite topic among MMA media: What will happen with Randy Couture’s legal situation with the UFC, and if Couture is able to fight, will we see the Natural vs Fedor?

A fight of that calibre would catapult Affliction from potential to premiere status quickly.

While MMA’s growth has been phenomenal over the past few years, it’s still a niche audience.  The UFC’s attempt at silencing Affliction’s first event was understandable given the fighters involved.  Fans enjoyed the weekend overall, but many still picked just one event to watch.  Competition is great for any market, but splitting a niche audience isn’t productive long-term.  Hopefully the organization battle will move more towards putting on the best fights, instead of putting on fights at the same time.


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