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Random Rant: UFC is well within its rights to counter-program Affliction

I have a confession to make, which is that I sometimes lurk on some of the more popular message forums out there just to see how people are reacting to certain things that are taking place in MMA.

I was especially curious to see what people were saying about the UFC’s decision to hastily put together a UFC Fight Night card to be televised live on Spike TV on July 19, directly opposite the Affliction: Banned pay-per-view that has been scheduled for that day for several months.

Most of the posts I’ve seen have been critical of the UFC and its President, Dana White, for going ahead trying to take the steam out of Affliction’s inaugural event. Some of the posts I have seen have contained a ton of angst, almost accusing White of being an MMA anti-Christ.

The UFC’s decision to run opposite Affliction is a low blow, but it’s not illegal. Furthermore, there’s no written or unwritten agreement that says promotions cannot hold cards on the same day of each other.

With that said, I actually think what the UFC is doing it’s smart business. Some people are claiming White is being a hypocrite because he’s said in the past that he welcomes competition but then does something like this. But I don’t see how he’s being a hypocrite? He said he welcomes the competition but has never said he was going to roll over for it.

Lest we forget that two recent UFC heavyweight champions, Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia, are set to appear the Affliction PPV. While Sylvia was released with one fight left on his contract, the specter of Affliction’s involvement of MMA no doubt hurt the UFC’s leverage at the negotiation table.

Whether the UFC wanted to keep Sylvia around at the right price is debatable, but I don’t think it’s even a question that the UFC did not want to lose Arlovski. Not to mention, if Affliction succeeds, they could potentially recruit and sign many other stars that the UFC had a hand in building.

Seriously, did the same people that are crying now about the UFC’s decision say they felt it was unfair when Affliction signed Arlovski out from under the UFC?

The July 19 UFC Fight Night is not good for the long-term growth of the sport, but it could be good for the long-term growth of the UFC. I can understand why purists do not like the move, but can’t we think logically for a second? White is not a paid good-will ambassador of MMA. He’s paid by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta to run the UFC and ensure it remains the market leader in the sport. Would White be any good at his job if he willingly allowed his competition to overtake him?

I’m not going to sit here and try and tell you that UFC Fight Night 14 isn’t going to hurt Affliction: Banned. The fact is that I am convinced that the UFC card will have a serious adverse financial impact on Affliction’s PPV buyrate. Yes, Affliction has the better card. And yes, we live in the age of DVR and TiVo, so people can watch both, something that I anticipate many hardcore fans doing. But hardcore fans aren’t going to make or break Affliction. With the money it is spending, Affliction needs to breakthrough to the casual audience and convince them to order the PPV in droves in order to have any hope of breaking even.

The problem is, Affliction has done a poor job of marketing “Banned” to the masses. Look, they’ve put together an All-Star card, one so good that I have been thinking paying out of pocket so that I can see it live. They’ve also done a good job of holding press conferences in Los Angeles and New York and making the fighters accessible to the MMA media and hardcore MMA fans. And getting Donald Trump involved was a tremendous coup. But we’re running out of time here and I have not seen a major mainstream media push. Unless a big campaign starts soon, they will not be able to penetrate the casual MMA audience.

Now, even if they come up with an amazing mainstream marketing campaign, Affliction’s debut show is still going to have problems from a pure dollar and cents perspective. By holding a free show opposite Affliction’s PPV, the UFC is giving the casual MMA fan a strong alternative. You and I will be watching both, but if the typical casual fan gets the urge to watch MMA on July 19, chances are that with the economy the way it is, he or she will tune into Spike instead of shelling out $39.95 that they can instead use to fill up their gas tank.

The UFC’s decision to counter-program Affliction is bad for the sport. However, just because something is bad for the sport doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. Assuming it’s not violating anti-trust laws or using strong-arm tactics, the UFC has every right to run its business how it sees fit and to rip White to shreds for making a smart business decision is just plain “crazytalk.”

To the fans who see the MMA industry from the outside looking in, MMA is a sport. But what so many of us overlook is the fact that when it comes to those on the inside, MMA is not only a business, it is also their livelihood. Why shouldn’t the UFC try to protect that livelihood?

96 COMMENTS
  • Mike C. says:

    All this is going to do is kill Affliction a little but faster and give me a great night of fights on the 19th.

  • ufcfan says:

    thanks for putting this post out sam.

    anyone who complains about the ufc’s move are thick headed
    its business…a good business move.

    a lot of these people that are trashing the ufc fail to think what they’d do if they were in a similar position and we’re running a company.

  • JohnnyRev says:

    Sam well thought out piece. I agree with you a 1000 percent. Dana is doing what he paid to do. Protect and build the UFC. I see this trend of free fights and counter programming continuing.The MMA war is just beginning and we the fans are the clear winner. When Demand is high, the supply of available MMA will go up and thats good for everyone in the sport not just the fan

  • Evan says:

    “Seriously, did the same people that are crying now about the UFC’s decision say they felt it was unfair when Affliction signed Arlovski out from under the UFC?”

    To go on this alittle further…We all know that Affliction went after Arlovski right after his last fight which they weren’t supposed to do. Sam..I am sure you sat on that one for awhile. From about 10 days after his last fight if I remember right.

  • Johnny J says:

    Thank you for this article Sam. You make a lot of good points.

    I think a lot of people like to rant about how more competition is better, but then when the UFC steps up to compete, they get angry.

    What “the more competition, the better” really means to these people is, “anything but the UFC because I don’t like Dana White.”

    I, however, am of the mindset that the more competition there is, the better product we will all receive. If that product is coming from the UFC, great! If that product is good and comes from another company, great! I am just looking for great fights.

  • whatever says:

    Seriously, did the same people that are crying now about the UFC’s decision say they felt it was unfair when Affliction signed Arlovski out from under the UFC?

    It wasn’t unfair because the UFC:
    1) Held AA from his last fight for almost a year, because they couldn’t come to terms.

    2) Had his last fight against the most boring style they could find.

    3) Had Joe Rogan saying everything negative that he could think of about AA.

    4) Didn’t broadcast the fight when he won.

    5) Didn’t give him a post fight interview.

    Face it, the UFC drove AA off. It wasn’t unfair and it certainly wasn’t signing AA out from under the UFC, seeing as he was completely free of his prior contract when he signed.

  • ultmma says:

    DW= great fro the UFC
    DW= not so great for MMA

    but people he works for the UFC its his job to make sure his product stays at the top of the mountain

    He’s like the general manger (GM) for your favorite pro team. His job is to make his team number 1 and his team is the UFC

    Plus why are real hardcore fans complaining we get to a silva fight, vera fight, plus a good lw bout for free AND a stacked affliction card. what a weekend for MMA. i’m pumped

    If affliction is going to suceed there going to have to go head to head with the UFC sooner or latter

  • Donk says:

    Well i love MMA and i think what the UFC is doing with regards to affliction is bad for MMA. So i don’t think there is anything wrong with fans of the sport being anti this decision.

    The whole MMA business can’t be within one organisation, there are just too many fighters, and we have seen what happens when too many fighters are in one org, they sit on the bench for long periods. I want to see different orgs emerge and cooperate and the UFC just seems to be too keen to burn bridges rather than make friendships. That will hinder the growth of the sport in my opinion.

  • Andrew says:

    Sam, when you ask purist if it was fair Affliction signed Arlovski out from under the UFC, are you saying they were talking with him while he was under contract? Did Tim Sylvia ask for a release because he was guaranteed a large purse to fight for Affliction? I believe Affliction said in an interview that there are some fighters that are in the UFC and possibly Elite XC that want to sign with Affliction when they are free agents. Is Affliction tampering with fighters under contract?

  • JJ says:

    Sam, great article.

    I said the same thing about DVR, I’ll pay for Affliction and record the UFN. Looking forward to both and we’ll see what happens.

    If the Affliction PPV sucks, well then lesson learned. We all know what UFN’s are about and the ridiculous amount of commercials they contain from what I recently remember, so at the very least record it anyway and skip all that garbage.

  • bjjdenver says:

    I still am not convinced that this move is the “Affliction Killer”.

    It was not Afflictions target to go after the casual fan with this show, it is more directed at the steady, if not hardcore, mma fans.

    I believe a high percentage of the steady/hardcore fans that were intending to order Affliction, will still do so, while recording the UFC on their BetaMax…I mean DVR.

    I also still believe, that having a ppv, instead of a UFN, would draw more ppv dollars away from Affliction, by forcing many fans to choose one or the other.

    It is clear, that this card is to get the Affliction name out there as a promotion, and they are going to have to step up their matches in their next card or two. Personally, I believe much of Affliction’s future is based on getting Randy for a fight or two or three. That is what will get UFC fan’s attention.

  • ufcfan says:

    if the blogging world is correct affliction won’t last too long if they keep paying those types of salaries.

    if there was any “tampering” going on you can’t blame tim sylvia for bolting for $800k, that’s triple what he was earning per fight in the ufc. that’s a nice little nest egg.

    now if affliction fails, where are those fighters going to be going back…
    likely the ufc (if we’re talking money) or japan question at that point does the ufc take them back??? probably not.

    the risk some fighters take is that if they bolt the ufc, and in the end the ufc is the last organization standing at that point they’re kinda screwed. (keep in mind i’m strictly speaking from a north american organization perspective)…there’s always japan (i.e. barnett is probably one of the wealthiest fighters from his wrestling/sponsorship deals)…but a lot of fighters may not want to go that route for various reasons.

    if fighters burn bridges by taking those one or two affliction paydays i can’t blame them….$$$ talks but long term it could backfire.

  • JacRabbit says:

    Dana is a dick–a smart dick… but a dick

  • tricky dicky says:

    I hardly see this as a killer.

    They did a good job driving away Arlovski and skidding Sylvia. They could have signed Fedor but we know how they structure their contracts (maybe a good thing he’s not in the UFC because now they can pursue their SWEET feud between nog and mir lmfao).

    It is a good business move on their part but reeks of scorn, spite and asshurt – but you’re right it is totally fair.

    Bottom line for these cards, I’d rather pay for a steak than get a free 3 day old ham sandwich.

  • jaydog says:

    I’m not going to argue with more MMA on any given day. However, it’s disingenous of Dana to claim to be an authority on MMA or even a fan if he’s going to promote Anderson Silva against a lesser oppenent as a bout that rivals Fedor vs. Tim Silvia. He would have killed to make that fight a year ago. If he really thought Fedor sucked, he wouldn’t be playing his ace, arguably the best P4P fighter in the world on late notice.

    Dana’s reaction is a tribute to the Affliction card. So, he’s trying to put out a fire, possibly by throwing grease on it. My question is, what’s he going to pull for the 26th/CBS/EliteXC event?

  • bjjdenver says:

    Sam,

    Will Affliction be required to release the salaries for this show? I know in some states they do and others they don’t.

    Atencio has implied that the reports of what these guys are being paid was greatly inflated, especially Fedor.

  • Joseph says:

    People who say that this is a good move, and won’t watch Affliction because there is a free UFC card now on Spike, I hope you guys understand that if Affliction goes out of business, the UFC won’t give us free cards anymore. The only way the fans win is if we SUPPORT Affliction as well, so the UFC can up their game. Else, the UFC will be happy to charge you $55 to see Bisping vs Leben as main events.

  • king mah mah says:

    totally within their right to sign arlovski. i will be buying affliction ppv.

  • Derek B. says:

    great move on UFC’s part.

    I think it will be a hell of a good show for both orgs. I’m more interested in Afflictions fight card to be honest. But I feel UFC’s fight card will be more exciting to watch.

  • ak47 says:

    What? I don’t really need a lesson on business Sam, thank you. I understand that my competitors can put their competing product out anywhere and any time that I can. The legality and the even ethics of the move are not really in question here.

    Further up, there was a comparison of Dana to being a GM of a sports team. I think one of the problems is that he’s NOT running the UFC like a sports team. The GM of a sports team is part of a larger league of teams that all have to cooperate in a way that allows them to grow their sport. What’s good for the league is good for the team. Instead, Dana is trying to destroy the very organizations that are bringing this sport into prominence.

    Consider this: Dana could not come to an agreement with a network for a TV deal because the networks were demanding too much control. This was probably a great move for the UFC, but there still needed to be network TV exposure for the sport for the UFC to advance their business. EliteXC filled that void, and now Dana is able to go on ESPN, put down his competitors and at the same time tout his product as being far superior to a wider audience.

    What’s bad for the sport is bad for the UFC. If they want to be anything more than the equivalent of a bush league, they need to let their competitors grow into the bush league role.

  • Evan says:

    Hey Joseph..you trying to say this is the UFC’s first and last free card?

  • Procannonfodder says:

    This can’t come as a huge surprise to Affliction can it? Seriously, did anyone out there think Dana would just rollover when one of the competitors did something to catch his attention? Dana strikes me as the kind of guy that would fight you for a Home Depot parking spot, much less the UFC’s marketshare of the MMA world…

  • joe says:

    great article sam. as a lifelong mma fan i can honestly say that there is no better time than now to be a fan. this may be the best it gets in terms of availability and quality.

    listen, if Affliction knows anything, they should know that it takes atleast 3 years to come out of the RED, so if they are good business men and truley want to love and watch theyre baby grow ;they wouldnt care so much if the first show is a flop. just chalk it up to growing pains and hope for expomential growth

  • yuushi says:

    bjjdenver said:

    It was not Afflictions target to go after the casual fan with this show, it is more directed at the steady, if not hardcore, mma fans.

    They are indeed going after the mainstream audience. How do they expect to “break even” if they weren’t going after the casual fans. With hardcore fans alone, they wouldn’t come close to “breaking even” with their costs.

  • king mah mah says:

    I don’t think the ufc being free the same night will affect the ppv buys all that much. The people who originally wanted to buy it will still do so. Including me.

  • Sergio G. Hernandez says:

    “They are indeed going after the mainstream audience.”

    When the most recognizable fighter on the card is Tim Sylvia, who is hated by the casual fan, it’s safe to say the mainstream audience is not a concern.

  • king mah mah says:

    Well, if a lot of the fans are so damn “casual”, then they won’t know about the UFC’s show either. So it won’t make any difference.

  • Trsigley says:

    I am going to use the great invention we call the Internet to watch some of the Affliction fights. Why pay for one and DVR the other when I can get both for free?

    Fedor has never been able to turn his popularity in Japan into popularity in America. While the diehards (me included) know Fedor as one of the (if not the) best p4p fighters in the world….the casual fan has never heard of him. The only thing I can think of that would propel Fedor to mainstream status in America is to fight and beat Randy Couture.

  • bjjdenver says:

    yuushi–

    “They are indeed going after the mainstream audience. How do they expect to “break even” if they weren’t going after the casual fans. With hardcore fans alone, they wouldn’t come close to “breaking even” with their costs.”

    Umm, not so much. I’m sure they would love for everyone who has heard the term “mma” to buy their card, but the fact is they aren’t. Atencio has already stated that he does not expect to break even on this show, or any of their next few cards. of course it would be nice, but it isn’t realistic.

    You should try and get a hold of his appearance on Inside MMA, it was pretty interesting and informative.

  • yuushi says:

    Sergio said:

    When the most recognizable fighter on the card is Tim Sylvia, who is hated by the casual fan, it’s safe to say the mainstream audience is not a concern.

    It’s arguable that Arlovski is as recognizable having been the UFC champ and propped up quite a bit when he was.

    But that’s beside the point, they NEED mainstream support if they hope to break even like they hope to. It just doesn’t seem likely.

  • Jesse says:

    I love it when people talk about the ethics of UFC vs. Affliction and how it’s hurting MMA. It’s the same group that shouts about unfair business practices, but when their favorite fighter isn’t getting paid what they think they should they’re all over commenting. Business is business, and the sport will continue grow because of good matchups and fights, not neccessarily because of organizational parity.

  • bjjdenver says:

    #26,

    Imo, the UFC is also not going after the casual fan with this show. They are targeting the UFC fans that may have been interested in the Affliction card. I think at this point, the only promotion really targeting casual fans or new fans is EXC via CBS.

  • Mike C. says:

    bjjdenver, didn’t he also say he expected 250k+ buys for this event?

  • yuushi says:

    bjjdenver said:

    Umm, not so much. I’m sure they would love for everyone who has heard the term “mma” to buy their card, but the fact is they aren’t.

    http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2008/6/16/552885/affliction-buying-into-the

    The promotion internally believes it can break even, even with a $4 million fighter payroll off a combination of a sellout live gate and 250,000 to 300,000 PPV buys.

    They aren’t going to do that without mainstream support. They may have changed their tune after the UFC put the wheels in motion with the Spike UFN show, but they were hoping to break even.

  • king mah mah says:

    @31, Yeah I hear ya, but I think if people were interested, they will still be interested and buy the ppv.

  • Evan says:

    I have to admit..this will cause me not to buy it. I spend a fortune on PPV’s already. I will follow pbp or whatever.

  • ACK! says:

    I’m not as optimistic as you are that this is a smart business move. Putting it directly up against Affliction’s event exposes the UFC’s top-dog status to unnecessary risk. If UFN 14 pulls in a mediocre number of viewers, can it be deemed a success? What if Affliction steals the night (obviously not likely due to ppv vs. free)? And what is really gained here?

    This is a lot of work to simply try and undercut Affliction’s viewership, which might not have been so significant anyway. If this event was on Friday or Sunday it would receive more viewers and still curb Affliction and EliteXC’s media proliferation. What’s more, having UFN14 on the same night effectively helps market Affliction’s event because many articles about one will mention the other (possibly even touting Affliction as the better card).

    That said, I agree with everything else you said, Sam. This is undeniably bad for the sport, but it may yet prove to be a good move by the UFC.

  • bjjdenver says:

    Yuushi, thanks for the link. Unfortunately that is what Meltzer is reporting on their internal beliefs. i am stating basically what Atencio himself, has stated publicly, that he doesn’t expect to break even, and that was well before UFN 14 came about. He also stated that the reported fighter salaries were greatly inflated.

    The bottom line is, there is no way they will break even on this event. The flip side is, that unless it is a massive failure and they bleed money from it, there will be future shows.

    Mike C., sorry, can’t remember if he said that, or it has just been reported that they are expecting that. If they do, that will be $10 mil in ppvs, which I couldn’t imagine gives them a lot of profit after the dues are paid. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of the cost side of things, could help us out and state a “break even” number for this show. If you assume the payroll is 4 million, I would think all the other costs would be more than the 6 million left over and I doubt the live gate will add much more.

  • Sergio G. Hernandez says:

    “Well, if a lot of the fans are so damn “casual”, then they won’t know about the UFC’s show either. So it won’t make any difference.”

    I suppose when it comes to MMA, the term “casual fan” should be amended to “UFC fan.”

    Because you’re “casual” MMA fan is basically a UFC fan… the kind of guy who calls it ultimate fighting or cage fighting and got totally butthurt when Rampage KOed Chuck.

  • bjjdenver says:

    #34,

    Agreed, that is what group I am in. I just can’t see this having a huge impact on the ppv buys directly. Damn, if I didn’t get it, I’m positive I would spend 40 bucks that night anyways and probably more, lol.

  • king mah mah says:

    Yeah if I saved money on the ppv I would just buy more alcohol!LOL!

  • yuushi says:

    bjjdenver said:

    i am stating basically what Atencio himself, has stated publicly, that he doesn’t expect to break even

    Atencio is probably saying things that are not exactly what Affliction’s internal offices (which is what Meltzer’s sources were) are saying just as Dana White doesn’t always say what’s what.

    All in all, I think it’s bad business if they are NOT trying to get more than just the hardcore fans with this card.

  • vxbpoison says:

    I could not have said it better myself, and I have been trying to convey this message to many people.

    The UFC’s decision to run a show on the same day is just good business, plain and simple.

  • Matthew Lenz says:

    The UFC’s strategery:

    caveman mma fan no know how watch two things at once. caveman mma fan head hurts. caveman mma fan not know fedor guy. caveman mma fan just watch ufc instead.

    Reality:

    The people who buy mma ppv and watch mma regularly are just going to watch both. Thanks to 20yr old inventions like the VCR. The only true dilemma would have been if they would have had another PPV event at the same time as the Affliction show and made the providers and fans decide where there money was better spent.

  • bjjdenver says:

    yuushi,

    I can agree with you on that much. It would seem much like good business to appeal to casual/new/UFC fan as much as possible. i think they are trying with the big name fighters, but those names aren’t really the ones they need. As I stated earlier, I believe the key to them sticking around, is to get Randy on their cards. That will draw the fans and probably make Fedor a more widely known name.

  • ctownhood says:

    I, like most of us, will watch both events. But is the UFC supposed to allow their competitors carve into the sport they have created? I mean, if an upstart football league started up and tried to compete with the NFL, they would do the same thing. Like him, love him, or hate him, Dana White is the sole reason MMA is where it is today, period. His passion for the sport (which cannot be said for guys like Gary Shaw, Monte Cox) is evident in the feverish manner he works to promote the UFC. Websites like this wouldn’t be here for us to waste company worktime debating and chating about such things if not for Dana and the UFC. This is no different than Burger King countering McDonald’s value menu. The Affliction card is great, no doubt. But where do they go from here? They have only a handful of fighters. Can’t keep doing shows with the same talent.

  • Jim says:

    Everything I see the UFC do reminds me of the big players in sports: NFL, NBA, etc.

    The NBA was huge back in the eighties and nineties. Insanely successful. The action was competitive, the players were good, and rivalries were intense. When Michael Jordan was at the height of his popularity, he was a god. Even when he left for two years, they didn’t lose too much in popularity because the NBA was what people were used to watching and they were looking for the “next MJ” — something still going on to this day. Over-expansion and image problems hurt the league for a while, but it’s certainly had a nice revival over the past few years and is seriously raking in money once again.

    The NFL is even more successful. They have a TV deal which they spread evenly to every team so the owners of the league retain solvency even during a poor year. The teams are iconic, the players sometimes even secondary to a team’s identity. (For instance, you think Steelers, you think defense; it doesn’t matter if it’s Troy Polamalu or Jack Lambert with the jersey on.) The players and the owners negotiate over the moneys the league brings in, the image of the league is considered paramount, and everything they do is about licensing and product recognition.

    Everything that Dana White has said and done over the past few years I’ve followed MMA makes me believe this is what he’s heading for.

    He’s a former boxing promoter who has seen the mess that boxing is in with the different orgs and open contracts and everything else. He looks at those major sporting organizations and that’s what he wants. He wants the UFC to be what you think of when you think of professional mixed martial arts just like the NFL is what you think of when you think of professional football. Sure, there are other football organizations out there (Canadian Football League, Arena Football League), but none of them are near the level of the NFL — and if they tried to challenge for the throne, you better believe the NFL would go after them to the best of their ability.

    I really believe that, in the next five to ten years, the UFC is going to try some sort of collective bargaining or other policy with fighters. I believe they’re going to try to regulate sponsorships and endorsements. I believe they’re going to try to standardize as much of the business as they can, simply because it’s a safe format proven to be successful. They can’t change things too much, there are certainly dangers in this — look at the cluster the NHL has turned in to after they moved away from their traditional fan base and expanded into regions not much interested in hockey — but by taking a traditional, successful business model for a sporting organization and modifying it for an individual combat sport.

    As ironic as it is, really, the best model to follow just might be the Professional Golf Association. =)

  • Evan says:

    # 37 bjjdenver…yeah I think I saw that number on mmapayout and junkie.

  • darkmetal says:

    First of all, there is no way that the UFC can lose money on this, they will make huge amounts on advertisers on Spike TV. Also, historically, they have had huge numbers whenever they have an Ultimate Fight Night event.

    I consider this as putting an IED under the wheel of the Affliction donkey cart, and you will notice the effect.

    Affliction was hoping to break even, but they will now be talking about how much money they are willing to lose.

    Winners: Dana White, the UFC, The Affliction fighters who are getting huge paydays

    Losers: Randy Couture (who cannot make as much money from this event due to his legal entanglements), Donald Trump, and Affliction Inc. that need to pay out what they promised, but will look like fools of the business world on the 20th.

  • Andrew says:

    I never understood this, why is everyone saying UFC is not trying to grow the sport? Isn’t Dana and the UFC reason this sport exist is in North America? Isn’t Dana and the Fertittas the ones that stuck to the sport when nobody cared about it in North America? Isn’t Dana and the Fertittas the ones that shelled out millions to fight the human cockfighting stereotype, that still follows this sport. Isn’t Zuffa, LLC the ones that are hiring firms shelling out millions just to get the sport legalized New York, thus enabling other states to follow. Without UFC, can you honestly say that these owners behind the Affliction, Elite XC, Strikeforce, or the IFL would invest in MMA if they didn’t see UFC making a profit? Be honest.

    Do you guys think Pro Elite doing to growing the sport by having a guy with 2 MMA matches under his belt against a guy who had a rough outing in the last six of his eight fights? Do you think Pro Elite is growing the sport by ignoring the Unified rules of MMA and tipping scales so their biggest draws can make weight?

    If Pro Elite or any other organizations or even WAMMA is doing anything significant to grow the sport, even if it’s only for themselves please list them.

    You can make the argument that UFC is doing all this for themselves, but realistically, if money was their only concern, they would of remained in states that and countries that are sanction MMA just like the old UFC did instead of shelling out lot of money just to get it legalize. They would just rely on the Pay-per views.

    As for failed Network deals with HBO and CBS, if any you guys watched the Elite XC or boxing on HBO, the content of the production, can you honestly say that UFC made the wrong decision not to hand over control? That Elite XC show reflected horribly on MMA and according to White it turned off a lot of Networks and sponsors. White will never compliment any other MMA promotions, but is any Network knocking on the door of MMA organizations? Jay Larkin said that the IFL only received time buys. Networks will not pay mma organizations to air their product. They are interested in it after May 31 show, but they are not going to get 100 percent behind it. Hell, CBS did not even get hundred percent behind Elite XC until the ratings got in. Elite XC deal with CBS can’t be that good if they are forcing them to put on another show so quickly where they do not have anybody outside Kimbo and Carano to draw a significant. And, the deal can’t be that good if Gary Shaw is not making the decision himself to air choose the next line up

  • Evan says:

    “I consider this as putting an IED under the wheel of the Affliction donkey cart, and you will notice the effect.”

    awesome…ahahahaha

  • king mah mah says:

    @42, Hey matthew, talk about caveman, you still have a VCR? bwaahahaha! At least get a dvd burner. You sound like my grandfather refusing to make the change!

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Whether it’s “fair” or “unfair” is a silly question. Unless it’s illegal or unlawful for some reason, it’s permissible. Welcome to capitalism and the free market system.

    Affliction’s problem will be publicizing the event so that “casual” fans are even aware that it’s happening, and ensuring that it’s carried by cable companies. I’m a ComCrap customer and I don’t know whether it will be available. Hope so. If Affliction doesn’t market this aggressively (and I haven’t seen anything on television about it), they’ll lose out of the gate and regardless of what UFC does or doesn’t do.

  • jimbo says:

    If I was the UFC i would do the same thing. Affliction built its brand on its presence on UfC fights and programs. No one would even know about Affliction if it wasnt for the UfC. If someone used me like that id be trying to put them 6ft under too.

    Ill youtube the Arlovski and Silva Fedor fights. As much as I dont like Silva I think hes going to take Fedor out.

  • ak47 says:

    “Like him, love him, or hate him, Dana White is the sole reason MMA is where it is today, period.”

    Come on, really? Sure, he’s done a great job turning this sport from an attraction into a business, but he’s not the reason this sport is where it is. It’s here because of the fans, it’s here because of the many, many people who have supported it since the very first UFC event. How did the fighters get into the sport? I doubt any of them will say Dana White. The fans? None of them will say Dana White. Dana White didn’t legalize it either, that was the individual states (with help from the unified rules of the NJACB).

    Furthermore, even if I didn’t contest that fact, this does not mean he’s doing what’s best for the sport and his business right now. He may very well have carried MMA on his back to this point, but there’s no assurance that he’s going to carry it on his own into parity with other major sports leagues. EliteXC has basically proven that by showing the huge untapped market of fans the UFC has thus far ignored.

  • ak47 says:

    BTW, the “it’s legal so it must be right” defense is wrong on so many levels I won’t even try to explain.

  • Beav says:

    While this move is ‘fair’, it is absolutely horrible for the ‘hardcore’ fans out there. There is no question there are high barriers to entry in the MMA market. Many companies have popped up and failed with out direct competition from the UFC. Affliction is the first company to jump in with two feet in the water, sign the biggest free agents out there and put them against one another. These fights would NEVER take place in the UFC. If this Affliction show fails it is going to be a huge deterant for any one else thinking about entering the MMA business. While this now makes for a great night on two cards, if Affliction goes down, it will be the last great night for a very long time.

    If I were a fighter, I would be very discouraged by the UFC’s decision to hold a card on the same night. By limiting competition, they are taking money directly out of their pockets. Everyone complains fighters don’t make enough, but if a company doesn’t make money, they can’t pay their employees.

  • Evan says:

    ak47 you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him

  • Sergio G. Hernandez says:

    Jim: Since no one is, I’LL give you props. Great comment, chief.

  • Trsigley says:

    # 44 Matthew Lenz

    I have this thing we call the “Internet” (emphasis on quotation fingers). I will watch the UFC Fight Night live……wake up the next morning and download the Afflicted fights. It’s amazing what they can make rocks do these days….

    VCR……too damn funny…..

  • good article, i think it is a very smart business move on white’s behalf. some people don’t even know who fedor is still and i (a hardcore fan) want to watch both but i just can’t afford it. i was going to buy it till this but i can still get my mma fix and then just visit this site for the results. free mma > $39.95.

  • Trsigley says:

    #57 Beav

    “Affliction is the first company to jump in with two feet in the water, sign the biggest free agents out there and put them against one another. ”

    Sounds alot like the USFL to me……

  • Patrick says:

    I glad you wrote this article. People forget that at the end of the day all these organizations are companies that have to turn a profit. But the other point of “is this bad for the sport?”. I think its better to have all the great fighters under one banner like the UFC. It ensures you get the biggest names in the biggest matchups, and with more stacked fight cards. If we get to many organizations competing at the top level like the UFC, Dream, Affliction, and Elite then the sport turns into boxing. You get a dozen different champions who never get matched up because of their contracts, and you never get to know who the best. Look at the NFL, 99% of the worlds best players are in the NFL. If a player needs to repair their career there is the CFL or AFL, but they are always looking back up to the NFL. Things were okay when it was the UFC vs Pride, but you can’t deny that MMA has really taken off since it was the UFC alone at the top.
    The UFC began going after a broaded audience with Spike TV. And then the IFL had a live event on before EliteXC did it. EliteXC went with CBS because CBS can call the shots. Thats why they are pushing for another show in late July. CBS just wants ratings, and its more than happy to put another EliteXC disaster out there to get them.

  • Evan says:

    #57 Beav

    “Affliction is the first company to jump in with two feet in the water, sign the biggest free agents out there and put them against one another. ”

    Remember the WFA?

  • Ken says:

    “The promotion internally believes it can break even, even with a $4 million fighter payroll off a combination of a sellout live gate and 250,000 to 300,000 PPV buys.”

    250, 000 PPV Buys x $40. per x .5 Promoters share of PPV Revenue =
    $5,000, 000. PPV $ for Afflication

    20,000 live gate at an average of 350.. per ticket =
    $7,000,000 live gate

    PPV 5mil + 7 mil Live gate = 12 mil

    12 mil gross revenue – 4 mil Fighter Salaries = $8 Million Gross Revnue

    then deduct other expenses = not bad

    I doubt that they will sell even 100,000 pay per views. The live event wont sellout at it’s UFC prices.

    But even then

    100K PPV Rev = 2 mil
    Live gate 50%= 3.5 mil live gate

    So 5.5 Mil gross then deduct 4 mil fighter salaries = 1.5 Mil
    then deduct arena rent, associated payroll and marketing.

    they might break even. not bad really.

  • JoHn says:

    i think its a great business decision, they are doing exactly what big business does, LOWES AND HOME DEPOT build right next to eachother, BEST BUY AND CIRCUIT CITY build right next to eachother, nobody complained when the ufc had a show on the same night of the baseball world series or playoffs, i cant remember i watched the ufc card… but you get my point

  • JoHn says:

    the good thing is i can tivo the ufc card and watch the ppv affliction card, and both parties will win from my standpoint

  • Ken says:

    P.S. then throw in Dana’s Money Wrench, and those numbers may go down into serious losing money territory.

    Seems like a good move for the UFC. They will also benifit from the publicity surrounding the controversy.

  • Joe says:

    Sam:
    I would like to start by saying that there is a difference between bussiness moves and legal moves. Usually, bussiness moves that are too good to be true usually end up being illegal, basically because they cause harm in an illegal form to competitors. I know this, since this is my area of expertise in law practice.
    For instance, Wal-Mart wanted to take out all competing bakeries in a specific town, so they just unercharged, and established “predatory-pricing” as comapny policy. That means that, for a while, it will absorb its losses, because, sooner than later, competitors will break, and then, when they own the monopoly, they can charge whatever they want since there is no competition. That is straight out illegal
    Take that example and move it to the UFC/Affliction issue. It is clear that what the UFC is trying to do is eliminate Affliction as a comeptitor, so perhaps it is now good for us customers, but if you look a bit ahead, if UFC’s startegy works out, they will probably end up having a dominant position in the market, and will charge whatever they want for PPV, and they will offer the same shitty contracts to fighters, because they won’t be able to fight anywhere else.
    Remeber the golden rule… monopoly is not bad itself… what’s should be examined is “how you got the monopolist position” and how you exercise that position.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  • Arashikage says:

    When it comes to which ppv to watch. As a hardcore fan, its easy for me to want to order the Affliction show, and record the UFC show. But outside the people I train with, my friends are the typical casual fans that get together to watch the ppvs. They know the names of Couture, Franklin, Anderson Silva, and Matt Hughes. But they don’t really know who Shogun or Nogueira is. They didn’t know who Kimbo or Gina Carano was. So it becomes hard to justify spending money on a ppv. Especially when to them, its a show put on by a t shirt comapny that makes ugly shirts for posers. Has a bunch of guys that used to be in the UFC. And some guy who is supposed to be the greatest ever, but they never heard of him. But there is a free UFC with Anderson Silva and Brandon Vera. Easy choice for the casual fan. Suddenly the Affliction show gets low buys rates similar to five years ago when the sport relied on the hardcore fan to make money.

  • ILikePunch says:

    Any news on the announcement today????????

  • Sam Caplan says:

    The announcement is not expected to be made until 3:00 p.m. ET.

  • Zack with a ck says:

    Reading what MMA fans think about business is like “dancing about architecture”, as the famous quip goes.

    This is not bad for the sport. At all.

    I’m writing off all the criticism I’m reading as slavering angry rabid fanboy jealousy/hatred of Dana White. And ultimately all the bitching amounts to pissing in the wind.

  • Zack with a ck says:

    The announcement is a huge disappointment. It’s that Lorenzo is going to focus on the UFC full-time and resign his poisition with their casinos. Boring.

  • xx2000xx says:

    That Lorenzo Fertitta is resigning from his post at the president of Station Casinos to work full-time in expanding UFC.
    Fertitta is leaving a post where he was the second highest paid casion executive in Las Vegas in 2007, earning a total of $113.8 million.
    Frank Fertitta III will become the man in charge of Station Casinos at CEO and retain 45% ownership in UFC, while Lorenzo Fertitta will work alongside Dana White as the co-heads of UFC.

  • bjjdenver says:

    #65 Ken,

    No way in you know what, does this do a 7 mil live gate. UFC doesn’t get that, or anywhere near it. I know you arent projecting them to do that, rather just putting numbers out, but still. Even half of that is laughable, imo. Ufc has had a handful of cards break the 3 mil mark. I would put it more around the 1 to 1.5 mil for live gate, but that is just a guess.

    The UFC gets an approximate share of the GROSS ppv of 50%. Assuming that is close to what Affliction is getting, it is around 2 mil at 100k buys.

    If you add the 2 mil for ppv and be generous for the live gate and say another 2 mil, that is 4 mil. At 200k buys, it would be 4 + 2=6mil.

    If you use their estimation of 250k buys, then it would be 5 + 2=7mil.

    Most sources are estimating salaries at 4 mil.

    I am guessing 100k in buys and 2 mil in live gate, which would put it at 4mil.

    However, if we give them a little leeway, say 150k in ppv and 3 mil at the gate, that would be 6 mil, which is about what I would thin they need to hit the break even mark.

    If anyone figures it differently (or better, lol) please post it.

    So I have it at a 6 mil, 150k ppv mark to break even.

  • bjjdenver says:

    Sorry, meant the 7 mil gate was laughable, my bad.

  • Ken says:

    hey bjj – where do i find figures on UFC live gate’s?

    i just figured 20,000 arena capacity by an average ticket price of $350, based on looking at the ticketmaster event site for like one minute. so i may be a lil off.

    thanks..

  • […] Caplan makes a good point when he talks about the ethics of the Affliction cock-block event: The July 19 UFC Fight Night is not good for the long-term […]

  • Davey D says:

    Sam, I’m glad you decided to do a write up on this topic and agree with you 100%. I’d have to say this is just Dana’s nice way of saying to Affliction, “You guy’s want to battle? Let’s battle and see what happen’s when it’s over”. It is a very smart thing to do, in my book.

    Affliction seems to have the cash money to fund this thing without a whole lot of Marketing. EXC/CBS basically put on a “roadblock” campaign to let everyone know about their show and who was on it. Maybe Affliction is waiting until the first of July to make a major push or maybe they’ll continue like so, just treading water?

    Someone on Sherdog made a post today with the question about Affliction and if they could sue the UFC for holding an event on 7/19/2008. This person was an orange belt. I know this is a question and I don’t mean to be rude or condesending but I would call this person a “casual fan”. That is the type of person Affliction wants to see their show.

    If you can’t figure out at MMA is a sport and that the UFC doesn’t actually own MMA (although they may own the term “Ultimate Fighting”). Any org can hold their own event’s whenever they please. As long as they don’t book an event at the same venue on the same date. What is the BIG probelm here?

    Instead of one event on 7/19 costing you Forty bucks (the undercard on FSN is a good, no, great move). We also get the UFC’s UFN 14 on Spike TV to boot. The UFN will also get re-aired at least 3 or 4 times as well. That is good enough for me. Again, sorry if that was rude but I had to point that out.

  • bjjdenver says:

    Ken,

    I think if your prices and such were right and all tix sold, you numbers would be right on. However, many tickets are given away and many are much, much cheaper in that size of arena. I googled info on live gate for UFC and at one point in the past 2 years, they had only 3 or 4 gates over 2 mil in revenue. Now, this has gone up a lot since then, but I’m not sure if they have ever broken 5 mil, with 3-4 mil now deemed a very strong live gate. That is what I based my estimates off of, just guessing that it will do a live gate of an average UFC card at best, thus around 2 mil. I could see it getting to 3, but that would be pretty huge for a first show with little appeal to the casual fan. I also googled Affliction sales and all I found was the old estimate that they sold $250,000 in the first 30 minutes. Usually, ticket sales for mma events are usually strong at the beginning, then even out and that was their estimate, not an official number.

    UFC has put on shows in many places that divulge the revenues and salaries, so just searching it on the net, should give you a lot of info on their past shows. For instance:

    “Multiple sources are reporting that the UFC announced a sellout crowd of 14,773 at UFC 84. Todd Martin at CBSSports.com is reporting that the event drew a live gate revenue of $3.7 million.”–from one of my searches.

    That was a pretty big card and it would be ultra-ambitious of Affliction to think they could achieve that.

    Personally, I see this doing better than the K-1 Heroes Dynamite USA crapfest, but I don’t think it will get near an average UFC card.

    I also doubt the rumored salary estimate of 4 mil, but I could easily be wrong, and that is the number we have to work with at this point. I know they have internally said they want to sell 250k in ppvs, but in my estimation, they would probably be satisfied with half of that, which would probably get them near the ballpark for breaking even.

  • bjjdenver says:

    You know, another thing is, there are tons of bars and such, paying $1000 or more to show UFC events nowadays, this is another edge that they have over any other promotion, including Affliction.

  • Trsigley says:

    bjjdenver

    Most venues (Hooters etc.) pay a per seat fee, and this is a decent chunk of the UFC’s PPV money. A large sports bar might pay 2000 maybe even as high as 3000 for the right to (and legally) broadcast a UFC show. I have yet to see any advertising in any of the bars or sports bars I frequent.

  • bjjdenver says:

    Exactly, my buddy owns a new sports bar, and they are paying right around $1000 bucks a card, and it is a medium size place at best.

    You know a few years ago, it was hard to find a place showing the UFC, even in Denver. Now, there are probably 20-30 bars showing it easily.

    And outside of the mma sites on the net and the cage at Adrenaline the other night, I have seen ZERO advertising for Affliction and know of no bars showing it.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    #84 Lack of advertisement

    And that is why Affliction might struggle, not because of UFC. Viewers are only choosing between options if they are aware of them. If viewers watch UFC without knowing of Affliction’s card, Affliction didn’t lose those viewers to UFC because Affliction wouldn’t have them in the first place.

  • Trsigley says:

    Another interesting trend I have seen bjjdenver is that a bar won’t advertise that they are showing, but you get there and it is on……I wonder if some of the bars are trying to show the fights under the UFC’s radar. I would think the cable companies could see this and punish the bars. Maybe I am wrong, but for as much as I know it costs to broadcast a UFC fight from a bar they would advertise it to the hilt.

  • HexRei says:

    @#86 Of course they are trying to avoid it. I’m sure some do pay the license fee but a lot of the local bars in my area are just buying it once and showing it on their TV network. Word of mouth still fills the one I go to regularly to standing room only every show.

  • sol says:

    to all those people complaining, are you or are you not going to tune in and see how incredible Vera and Silva are at 205? I thought so

  • Brandt says:

    It certainly is legal for the UFC to do what they did. It’s also in their own best interest as well. But, it is a shame that more people are going to tune into a mediocre UFC show instead of buying a stacked PPV.

  • DocWagner says:

    It is “ok” and “within their rights” for the UFC to pursue opposition to Affliction…it is absolutely “business”…but is that good for MMA?

    I personally am tired of Dana White’s monumental ego.
    His constant “i have a big announcement” nonsense. It is so tiresome. The fighters and all of MMA suffer because he strives to be #1. This is about him.

  • DPK says:

    I love this move, it pretty much means that anytime another MMA org is going to try a pay per view, we are going to get free UFC, and next time I doubt the card will be thrown together last minute.

    UFC also better get ready for EliteXC or even Affliction(if they can work a free TV deal) to try and do the same thing back to them later on.

  • stevefiji says:

    Affliction is marketing so many ex-UFC guys, with only Sylvia and Arlovski anywhere still near the top of their game and they are trying to call this the greatest fight card ever? Dana’s just masterfully one-upping the pretentious but lovably obnoxious Trump.

    I hope Donny ZCombover is prepared to go deep into his so called deep pockets… He rarely uses much of his own money on any RE project and unless the Trumpster doesn’t mind , in essence, shelling out 4 to 5 million for his front row seat, in his Edsel MMA Promotion, the bleeding will end relatively soon when Trump finds his new baby going head-to-head consistently with the UFC on the same dates.

    Dana’s ‘the balls’…. taking on the blowhard and beating him silly with hammer fists and an then an arm bar, at his own game. Affliction has no real cash themselves so when the The Donald pulls the plug, we keep a little longer, the idea of a single unified belt, that actually holds all the value.

    The UFC is about Survival of the fittest…and so should MMA

    I love a single Belt that matters
    I love the idea of the majority of the world’s best fighters in ONE organization
    There will always be small leagues …in fact more and more ads the popularity grows… but there is one NFL, one MLB, one ATP and the world is a better place because of this

    Snuff out Affliction, get Fedor and Couture in the Octagon and wait for the next pretender to take on the champ.

    Actually the annihilation of Affliction will be great for MMA… It will increase The UFC’s value, they will eventually go public and reap the rewards and then even more resources will be pumped into the UFC to secure the fact that the best will be fighting the best.

  • stevefiji says:

    Sorry a quick follow-up… people keep talking incessantly about the fact that Affliction is good for the MMA fan…why is that really? …because, by almost all accounts, Fedor has idiotic management and won’t soon with the UFC and make 10 times in endorsements than he’ll ever make on an Affliction card? Let’s face it, if you take away Fedor, this card then is a B- at best…

    What would be best for the MMA fan is Fedor and Barnett battling in the Octagon and chasing a single belt, up against all the best fighters in one ladder. Affliction will die, Fedor will eventually end up in the UFC after he’s lost years of endorsement earning potential. Couture, who already is almost past his ‘used by’ date, will eventually conclude the same. By the way i saw Redbelt…. and ‘Stuttering Randy’, sorry but you do NOT have a career in film. Couture could have fought Nog, and morphed already into the George Foreman of MMA. Instead he sits on the sideline and bitches and moans about being underpaid… he gets no sympathy from me…

    MMA is still in its infancy stages…. Many UFC cards still perform underwhelming on the PPV. The fighters will get theirs in due time… as some have pointed out already, collective bargaining and yes, the occasional rebel, stirring up the kettle will raise the fighters share…but MMA is best without the boxing BS and the silly competing organizations and the lack of professional standards, etc, etc….

    The UFC will start or acquire more minor leagues, and that is what will happen before the fighters get too high a percentage…. these minor leagues will subsidize lesser but promising talents…Yes, the future is super bright for MMA fans… we’ll get to see the best fight the best and leave the debates that rage when one fighter will NEVER be able to fight another right out of the equation.

    Many people weigh the numbers of fights as being more important…to hell with that… I want ‘names’ fighting ‘names’ with no debates left and one unified organization is the best way to consistently accomplish that.

    If you want artificially beefed up records everywhere, diluted talent shows, Kimbo Slice taking 20 unanswered hits to the head and not pretending that its a farce… an ass-munch like Babalu on your card AFTER you saw what he did in the ring and what he said after that… Now Affliction is not all of that, but those are facts about recent MMA promotions. The ‘best fight the best’, in one arena…Dana White said it best…”no posers, no pussies’. Sure they are in it for the money, but what about the 60 years where MLB players didn’t make much?… or the same for the NFL, etc, etc… Zuffa has turned around the UFC in 8 years!!!! and now fighters are making big money!!!! What’s the problem? Are they true warriors or are they in it for the $$$$. Get in the ring, face off against the ultimate tests you can meet, and be grateful that it’s not 1940 and you are not playing in the NFL or MLB strictly for the love of the game. If you are named Liddell or Penn, you’d fight for nothing, and thats why we love them so much and that, my friend, is why Fedor will not attract the PPV’s that people expect.

    Just my two cents worth…
    Cheers mates!

  • Chester says:

    Was there any mention of the fact that Randy Couture has his hands in Affliction and how pissed Dana was when he left the UFC?!?! Anyone think that might be part of Dana’s planning???

  • NealTaflinger says:

    Do people think MMA is so fragile that one card or one guy can wreck it? Of course Dana welcomes competition – its another opportunity for him to demonstrate market dominance.

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