Here’s a strange twist for you: an MMA promoter is trying to downplay how much one of his fighters is making. After years of Dana White trying to convince us all that UFC fighters are paid better than we think, it’s something of a surprise to hear Affliction VP Tom Atencio doing his best to quiet the rumors about just how much they’re paying Fedor Emelianenko.
Atencio told MMA Weekly that reports of Fedor making somewhere between $1.5-2 million to fight for them were “all rumors.”
“It’s a considerable amount of money, but it’s not what everybody says,” Atencio said.
So what is a considerable amount of money? Earlier reports had Tim Sylvia making somewhere in the neighborhood of $800,000. If that’s true, one has to assume that Fedor is getting at least $1 million, especially considering that his asking price has been notoriously high since leaving Pride. Monte Cox recently speculated that Affliction’s fighter payroll for their first show could be the biggest in the history of MMA, and while Atencio didn’t confirm that, he did say that he does not expect the company to turn a profit with their first offering:
“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.”
Losing money now to make money later. Such has been the rallying cry of MMA startups from the IFL to Elite XC, and yet that profitable point in the future has eluded both of them so far. It’s like Creedence says, “Someday never comes.” Tell it, brother.
When pressed about recent comments from Gary Shaw to the effect that Affliction would have been better served staying in the clothing business, which is known to be occasionally profitable, and keeping out of the MMA promotion business, which almost never is, Atencio responded with the following hazy logic:
“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.”
I’m sorry, how does that “just make sense”? I fail to see how being involved in something as a clothing manufacturer and fan means that the next logical step is ownership and promotion, along with all the accompanying financial risk. Is that just me?
It’s like the makers of And1 saying that since they make basketball clothing and are basketball fans they should start their own basketball league. Damn. Bad example. Anyway, you see my point.
That’s not to say that the first Affliction show doesn’t look great. The card is truly impressive. But I’d like to know they have better reasons for thinking they can succeed where others have failed, especially when they seem to be spending so much money up front. Better reasons than, you know, being fans and making t-shirts. Would a business plan that includes making more money than you’re spending be too much to ask?