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Affliction’s Tom Atencio Talks “Ultimate Chaos” Fight, Doesn’t Give a Damn What the Critics Think

Affliction VP Tom Atencio
(What’s he looking for?  A war.)

I spoke with Affliction VP Tom Atencio for this week’s SI column on his fight with local card dealer Randy Hedderick at tomorrow night’s “Ultimate Chaos” event in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Contrary to my suspicions before our talk, I came away convinced that Atencio isn’t doing this so much as a self-promotional Affliction publicity stunt, but rather because he genuinely wants to.  What makes me think so?  Mostly his reluctance to even talk about the fight, as well as mild surprise that anyone would want to talk about him considering the other fights on the card.

He also offered some insight on his life as a highly-publicized but low-level MMA fighter, as well as his career as a fight promoter.  And naturally he managed to slip in some shots at the UFC…

On why he’s fighting a twenty-something card dealer in Mississippi:
“For no reason.  For me.  Why do other guys go out and play sports on the weekend? It’s the same thing."

On why there are so many Affliction fighters on this “Ultimate Chaos” card:
"The promoter said he needed fighters.  I don’t want to keep these guys from making money. With [Affliction] not holding fights all that often, these guys still need to get paid. If I can help them do that I’m happy to."

On what he thinks of the UFC’s decision to ban more fighter sponsors unless they cough up some cash directly to the UFC first:
“It’s their company and that’s their decision.  I’m against it.  It’s taking the opportunity to make money away from their fighters.  I think it’s wrong, but they can do what they want to do.  That’s how they do things.  They like to control everything.  Would I ever do something like that?  No.  But I’m not the UFC.”

On when a VP of a clothing and entertainment company finds time to train MMA:
“I train every day, usually at 2 pm.  I always try to train every day even if I don’t have a fight.  The kid I’m fighting, he works and still trains.  I’m no different, except maybe I work longer hours.”

On what kind of fighter he is:
“I like to think that I’m well-rounded.  I came from Marco Ruas originally and he’s one of the first well-rounded Vale Tudo fighters.  Before that I trained with Joe Morreira.” [Ed. note: but watch out for his head kick.]

On what his critics will say about this fight, especially if he loses:
"I’m never concerned with what people think.  Once I started being in the public eye I stopped caring about that. You just can’t. There are always going to be those people. They say my next [Affliction] event will be my last event. They said that about the first one. But if you’re going to be out there you can’t listen to any of that."

On his age and the youth of his opponent:
"That’s the least of my worries.  I’m in the best shape of my life right now. My cardio is good. My weight is perfect. I don’t look my age and I sure don’t act my age."

Cagepotato Comments

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just some dong- June 28, 2009 at 4:02 pm
What may be slipping through the cracks is the fact that, by being concerned about making money for themselves, the UFC is in fact making money for fighters. Why should maintaining control of their organization and trying to make as much cash as possible off the rise of the sport - which they are solely responsible for - be looked at in any way as a bad thing? Its no secret that a lot of the money they make goes right back into the business, growing the sport and expanding to audiences around the globe, making MMA mainstream and breaking down barriers of old. We wouldn't be posting on this site if it weren't for the UFC, because the site wouldn't exist. We fans can and should respect Tom, but it's the UFC and Dana White that we owe.
Chri534.- June 27, 2009 at 11:53 pm
@tallkitchenbags "he looks like a total douche, but he sounds like a normal guy. the total opposite of dana white. you go, tom."

...Thanks for the breakdown, Tyra.
tallkitchenbags- June 27, 2009 at 5:33 pm
he looks like a total douche, but he sounds like a normal guy. the total opposite of dana white. you go, tom.
reddog- June 27, 2009 at 9:38 am
strangely, i all of a sudden have respect for him...weird
and he genuinely loves fights. unlike certain fuckwads from the ufc.

well, this match is no "can for fedor", barnett has the necessary skills to maybe hang with the emperor. he has wrestiling , experience, he is quick.

i have enjoyed all the affliction fights so far. i hate that it is a ring, not a cage. but the matchups they have had are cool.

my .02
Chri534.- June 27, 2009 at 12:48 am
@Soda Popinski: "in saying all this, im in no way a UFC hater, but at the same time i kinda of see them as the yankees of MMA. the bullies with all the money that feels threatened by anything else the competition might try and do."

I'm with you Soda, I consider the NFL to be the Yankees of football...when will people stop caring about politics and all that other garbage and finally watch the CFL?
Soda Popinski- June 26, 2009 at 7:25 pm
im with philibuster. i think atencio is actually a class guy. especially in contrast to dana.

and why is it that everybody feels the need to trash on affliction in the first place. i think they're doing things the right way and in a respectable fashion. (outside of megadeth performing in between fights) i dont know, theres part of me that wishes them the best.

in saying all this, im in no way a UFC hater, but at the same time i kinda of see them as the yankees of MMA. the bullies with all the money that feels threatened by anything else the competition might try and do.


Babcock- June 26, 2009 at 6:37 pm
Holla! after 2 months i can finally sign in and make stupid comments you folks *Joy* :*)
ihateemo- June 26, 2009 at 3:57 pm

I agree Atencio isn't in it for the money. Anyone who pays out $2.3m to two guys Fedor used as punching bags clearly has no interest in profit or successful business. He's pretty much running a slush fund for over-the-hill fighters right now.
Darkside- June 26, 2009 at 3:42 pm
Definitely got some more respect for Tom after that interview.
philibuster- June 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm
Tom Atencio is much cooler than Dana "so you wanna be a boxerciser?" white. I really feel that he's in it for the fighters and clearly not the money. I don't think affliction is going anywhere soon, especially with big backers golden boy and trump.
Titos Head- June 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm
Ok we need a UFC Gif with Dana and a Swastika...T-shirt guy calls them Nazis without really calling them Nazis awesome!
Akilleez- June 26, 2009 at 3:05 pm
Well clearly he doesn't give a damn what critics think, or else he would have ended that horrific clothing line before it even started.
shartacus- June 26, 2009 at 3:01 pm