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Ben vs. Ben: Affliction “Day of Reckoning” Edition


(Looks like Andrei’s the only thing standing between Fedor and another trip to the scary rollercoasters.  That is not a safe place to stand.)

Is it sad that this installment of Ben vs. Ben is forced to dwell on questions surrounding Affliction’s possible demise?  A little, but that’s life.  We can’t just pretend that they aren’t paying Andrei Arlovski roughly 20,000 t-shirts for an event that has no clear path to a profit…or does it?  That discussion and more awaits you below.

What are the odds that this is Affliction’s last show?

BF: -300.  In other words, 3-1 odds that we’ll never see another Affliction MMA event again.  I’m not happy about that, but if I’m being honest I have to look at how difficult it’s been for them to get a second show together, how much they’ll spend on it and how little of that will be recouped in ticket sales or pay-per-view revenue, and I can’t see how they justify another money pit of a show after this.

Of course, three has always been their magic number.  That’s how many shows they said they were committed to, and it would give them the chance to put on the Josh Barnett-Fedor Emelianenko fight they’ve obviously been angling for since the start.  But if Arlovski’s getting over a million bucks for this fight, imagine what it would cost to put on Barnett-Fedor alone, not to mention the rest of the card.  It would be an obvious money-loser, and even Affliction can’t bleed cash forever.  If they don’t pull out a miracle on Saturday night, they’re going to pack it in.

BG: I really hope nobody at Affliction has their fingers crossed and breath held for this miracle of which you speak. Between Margarito/Mosley and the UFC’s usual counter-programming and market saturation, Affliction won’t even be outperforming their first event in terms of ticket sales or pay-per-view buys. But I have to assume that they already know this. Maybe Atencio & Co. are bad at running an MMA organization, but they’re not childish enough to believe that money will literally fall out of the sky. And yet they sign Gegard Mousasi to fight in their third event, and announce they’ll be promoting four events a year with Golden Boy.

I’m not Affliction’s CFO, so I don’t know how much money the company is willing to lose on this MMA pursuit. But is it naïve to think that they wouldn’t be making these concrete plans if their future really depended on the financial performance of "Day of Reckoning"? Short answer: yes. Still, I’m going to set the odds for this one at a more generous -200. Now if I could just find a gambling site that offers a parlay bet on "Affliction won’t put on a third show" + "Tito Ortiz will never fight again," I could probably make a decent profit…

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Affliction and M-1 Now Both Own Fedor’s Ass

Fedor Emelianenko
(Say something about the pants. I wish you would.)

The relationship between Affliction and the MMA organization/Fedor Emelianenko rental company known as M-1 has always been somewhat sketchy. M-1 gets to make pointless speeches at Affliction pressers with no explanation as to why, they put their ads all over the arena during Afflicton’s July event, and generally seemed to have a hand in anything Fedor-related that Affliction even attempted. Now, apparently, the partnership is official:

“We’re basically just solidifying our relationship,” Affliction vice president Tom Atencio told MMAWeekly.com of the Russian promotion. “We work well with them. They’re one of the few companies we’ve worked with that if they say they’re going to do something, they do it. They’ve stood behind us, especially with negotiations with the UFC.”

This is part of what Affliction is planning to announce at tomorrow’s Trump Tower press conference in NYC. Another part is their involvement in the “Fighting Fedor” reality series. When will this show air, on what channel, and will there be anyone remotely credible in the running to fight Fedor? Hopefully that will all be answered at tomorrow’s press conference, though we can tell you right now that the answer to the last question is no.

The new deal between Affliction and M-1, however, should finally put to rest any notion of Fedor fighting Randy Couture in the near future. M-1′s Raimond Joost said there was no real possibility of Fedor signing a deal with the UFC, and as long as the UFC has Couture (which should be a healthy portion of his remaining shelf life as a fighter) you know they aren’t about to loan him out to the competition. So basically, take whatever remaining hope you had of ever seeing that fight and bury it somewhere deep inside yourself along with your suppressed rage and childhood dreams of happiness.

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Dana White Talks Failed HBO Deal with Playboy

The good people at famed gentleman’s magazine Playboy have an interview with UFC prez Dana White in their September issue (which drops Friday, August 15) and one of the more interesting nuggets to come out of it are White’s remarks on what torpedoed the HBO deal:

“I pulled the plug at the 23rd hour. HBO was pi**ed off… I would have had to sell out, literally. They would have owned the UFC… I took meetings with HBO’s boxing guys. I’ll tell you, if I had to hear one more time about how many fu**ing Emmys they had won, I was going to dive out the window. I said ‘You won a bunch of Emmys, but I’m kicking your a** on pay-per-view.”

Awesome. Do I believe Dana White actually said that to HBO executives? Not really, but it’s still a good story. As much as people criticized him for not making the HBO deal happen, you have to respect his desire to maintain his autonomy, even if it means not blowing up big time with HBO’s Emmy factory.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dana White interview if he didn’t bash Tito Ortiz:

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Affliction’s Contract Talks With Tito Ortiz Sound Downright Painful


(Tito and Jenna, still trying to solve that age-old argument about which is the more lucrative industry: fighting or screwing?)

Here’s what you know going into contract negotiations with Tito Ortiz: he is going to insist that you pay him waaaay more than he’s actually worth, and he will genuinely believe that it’s justified. That’s what Affliction is finding out. After claiming he had a “ground-breaking record” contract in the works only to have his statement directly contradicted by Affliction COO Michael Cohen, Ortiz is now actually said to be in negotiations with Affliction, though it isn’t going well.

Affliction VP Tom Atencio told MMA Weekly, “We’ve got a contract, and it’s just not feasible.”

I think we can untangle that odd syntax enough to infer that what he means is Ortiz has told them how much money he wants and it’s absolutely ridiculous. Color me surprised. The problem is that Ortiz has an inflated sense of what he can bring to an MMA organization at this point. For example, he claims that he’ll do a guaranteed 500,000 pay-per-view buys for Affliction. This is what’s known as “crazy talk.”

Ortiz isn’t that big a star anymore. He only thinks he is. MMA fans have seen him limp along the last few years with victories over an over-the-hill Ken Shamrock and his more recent loss to Lyoto Machida, so it isn’t likely that too many of the hardcore faithful are dying to see “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” back in action.

If his reasoning is that fans of “The Apprentice” are going to plop down forty bucks to see him fight “Babalu” Sobral (who most of them have probably never heard of) in Affliction (an organization they may or may not be aware of), then he’s overestimating the reality TV crowd’s attention span. They’ve forgotten him in favor of Brooke Hogan and Mr. Boston by now.

When the people who paid Matt Lindland $300,000 and Tim Sylvia $800,000 think your expectations are “not feasible,” you must really be off the mark.

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Affliction Signs Horodecki, Announces Nelson-Buentello, But Where’s Tito Ortiz?


(That’s the kind of youthful exuberance Affliction needs!)

Today’s Affliction press conference managed to temporarily steal some of the media spotlight away from UFC 87, as the organization announced that they had signed former IFL lightweight Chris Horodecki, and revealed a planned bout between IFL heavyweight champ Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Paul Buentello at their next in event in Vegas on October 11. That’s right, Nelson will not face Xtreme Couture’s Jay White in a pump-up squash match, as was previously rumored. Instead he’ll get something closer to a real test when he takes on the revitalized Buentello, who is fresh off a decision victory over Gary Goodridge at Affliction: Banned.

Affliction VP Tom Atencio said he was “really excited” about signing Horodecki and added that “everything is falling into place for Las Vegas.”

What Affliction didn’t announce at the press conference was the official signing of Tito Ortiz, who was said to be close to a “ground-breaking record contract” with the organization. According to Michael Cohen, Affliction’s COO (also Special Counsel to Donald Trump, see how that works?) there’s nothing to get excited about just yet:

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Tito Ortiz Signs “Ground-Breaking Record” Affliction Contract

Tito Ortiz Affliction MMA
(“Yaaaaaaaay!” Photo courtesy of MMA Mania.)

According to SI.com, Tito Ortiz signed a deal with Affliction yesterday that will make him the highest paid fighter in MMA history, and will compete at Affliction’s “Day of Reckoning” card (October 11th, Las Vegas); his opponent is expected to be Renato “Babalu” Sobral. Though he wouldn’t drop specific numbers, Ortiz told SI’s Arash Markazi:

“I guarantee you that my contract will be like no other…It will be a ground-breaking record contract for sure, without a doubt. There’s so much money to be made right now in mixed martial arts and it’s all about the fighters trying to make that money. It’s going to be a long-term deal where I put my heart and soul into the company and help build them…They’re going to bring me on, not just as a fighter but also doing some of the back work also…

I’m going to a company that’s going to take care of me, a company that’s going to respect me, a company that’s going to put me in the forefront and make me the ambassador that I’ve always been.”

Regarding Affliction’s drawing power with him on board, Ortiz was optimistic — perhaps insanely so:

“I know they want to make some money and I know they got over 100,000 pay-per-view buys on their first show and with me it’s guaranteed to be over 500,000 pay-per-view buys just by the number of fans that are going to follow me no matter where I go so they’re going to get there money’s worth just in pay-per-view no matter what.”

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Donald Trump and Howard Stern Talk Affliction

MMA ambassador Donald Trump stopped by the Howard Stern Show yesterday to pump up Affliction: Banned. The audio is above; some highlights are below…

***

Trump: I’m supposed to come over here to talk about Affliction, which is like this big deal, I own a big piece of this company that’s putting on fights, you know, the MMA, they — speaking about blood, they beat the crap out of each other —
Stern: Wait a minute, be honest with me, how many times are you having sex with your wife?
Trump: A lot.

***

Stern: What’s [Fedor's] thing, karate, jiu-jitsu, what does he do?
Trump: Everything. His thing is inflicting death on people. He’s never lost. He’s abnormally strong…
Stern: How tall?
Trump: He’s not that big either, he weighs about 225 pounds, he’s fighting a guy who’s a great champion, who weighs 100 pounds more [Ed. note: Well, like 40 pounds more. But still!], and he’s like six inches, seven inches taller. And they’re not giving the other guy a great chance.

***

Trump: I’m looking at this Russian, Fedor — with a face like you don’t wanna touch, with ears like I’ve never seen before, muscles on his shoulders like I’ve never seen, his neck I think it’s 28 inches — and I said to the girls, “Let me ask you a question. If I worked out for a little while, do you think I could take this guy?” They go, “Yes Mr. Trump”…
Stern: There it is, money speaks.

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Donald Trump to Become “Major Player” in MMA

Donald Trump Fedor Emelianenko Tim Sylvia MMA Affliction
(“Tim is hands-down the greatest shorts-shitter in the world.” Photo props to FiveOuncesofPain.)

From a press release distributed yesterday:

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK (June 3, 2008) — Affliction will pull out its Trump card Thursday when the company officially announces its partnership with Donald J. Trump at a press conference to be held in Trump Tower at 12:00PM. Trump will take the podium to address the press and outline his involvement with Affliction and their entry into the world of professional mixed-martial-arts (MMA) with their first event named, “Affliction Banned,” slated for July 19th 2008 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

“We are very excited to be partnering with the most recognized and accomplished business mogul in the world, ” said Tom Atencio, vice president of Affliction. “Trump is a true visionary who shares our belief in the future of MMA.”

“I have been a fan of professional sports since childhood, and I am particularly impressed by the athleticism, courage, and strength of these disciplined athletes.” said Donald J. Trump. “This particular sport resembles my business style of being fast paced, strategic, and aggressive…remembering to never give up. I am particularly excited to partner with Affliction and become a major player in promotion of MMA; the youngest and fastest growing sport to emerge in the last century.”

We’ll update you tomorrow; as for now, let the speculation begin. It could be as simple as Trump signing up to be the money-man for the fledgling MMA promotion. Though if he’s going to get involved with MMA, we would have thought he’d be hooked up with his Apprentice buddy Tito Ortiz, who has floated the idea of launching his own MMA organization. Stay tuned…

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Tito Ortiz: Fired

TOA

All things must pass. And so it went with Tito Ortiz, who found himself on the business end of a “y’fiyahd” last night on Celebrity Apprentice. Coerced into leading Team Empresario by Omarosa (who knew the next losing project manager would likely get pink-slipped), Ortiz had to develop a four-page ad spread for Dove Yogurt Bodywash or some shit, with Omarosa, Trace Adkins, and Stephen Baldwin as his associates. Unfortunately, Ortiz was a bit lost on how to approach the challenge, and Baldwin stepped in as the team’s de-facto leader, organizing a photo shoot that saw Trace seducing a hot model in a desert. It turned out surprisingly well, but Ortiz was a shifty, stammering mess when he was called on to present their work to a trio of Dove executives. Here’s one line from his pitch:

“Of course we used Trace, the reason why we used Trace is the demographics that we did have were from ladies ranging from the age of 20, or excuse me, 30 to 59, which, uh, most country folk ladies that would love Trace’s, uh…y’know, kinda push the product exactly.”

And such as. He also pronounced perfect (adj.) as per-FECT, and risque as RISK-ay. In the end, the Dove execs picked Team Hydra’s advertorial, which featured Carol Alt taking a bath and getting bitten, Marv Albert-style, by a male model. Thus, Ortiz was on the chopping block. And though Omarosa was called out for dodging a challenge that fit into her area of expertise (marketing, not washing), and Baldwin was criticized for being an overbearing prick who was directly responsible for their losing concept, the buck stopped at the project manager, and Tito was dunzo.

But Trump was so impressed with Ortiz’s performance on the show that he gave the HBBB $50,000 anyway for his charity. He called Tito “really special” and “the best there is,” which is strange because Ortiz honestly didn’t do that well on the show; he never got a chance to show off his leadership skills or business acumen, and only lasted as long as he did by hiding behind the greater failures of others. It reminded me of that SNL sketch “The Sinatra Group” where Frank Sinatra (Phil Hartman) tells 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell (Chris Rock) “you don’t need to work blue, kid, you got talent,” and Rock is like “no, I really don’t.” I wish that video didn’t cut off in the middle so you could actually see what I’m talking about.

“Issue #4: Milli Vanilli, what is this faggot crap?” Classic.

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Tito Ortiz’s Mind Is ‘Very Powerful’

We were just alerted to this video spot that Tito Ortiz filmed to pump up The Celebrity Apprentice (premiering January 3rd on NBC), where the HBBB will try to organize Lennox Lewis, Vincent Pastore and Gene Simmons into his own personal Team Punishment. Though it does sound like Ortiz took a hard shot to the head right before filming his speech at the end. Just a little cobwebby, that’s all…

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