When the popular clothing brand Affliction, which markets itself to fighters and fans of “extreme” sports, launched Affliction Entertainment in June of 2008, the MMA world was very optimistic. It was the makings of what could potentially be the next major promotional organization. One that would gather up all the great fighters not signed under the UFC. However, many remained apprehensive as it was unclear if Affliction was poised for greatness or destined for bankruptcy.
Affliction: Banned, took place a month later in Anaheim, California at the Honda Center. The fight card was stacked, and would include a fight between former Pride FC heavyweight champion Fedor Emeliankenko and former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia. It also featured two other heavyweight and one light heavyweight fight, each including a former UFC champion.
With an exciting fight card, free to watch undercard, live performance from the band Megadeath, and famed ring announcer Michael Buffer, it seemed that Affliction had the ability to achieve all the fan’s expectations.
The event had a total attendance of 14,832, grossing $2,085,510 at the gate and well over 100 thousand pay-per-view buys which generated somewhere in the ball park of another $2.1 million. This made their total revenue from the event around $4.2 million.
Banned was considered a mini success; nearly selling out the Honda Center and experiencing record high pay-per-view purchases, more than any MMA promotional company other than the UFC.
However, everything hadn’t played out as well as things seemed. Behind the facade of a packed Honda Center and solid pay-per-view numbers, Affliction Entertainment had taken a hard financial hit. What seemed like a healthy growth in the company; was in reality the beginnings of a bloody financial ulcer.
Affliction had purchased nearly one quarter of total gate earnings themselves and total fighter payroll for the event was $3,332,100; more than three quarters of estimated revenue. After fighter salaries, many expenses were still unpaid. With less than a million dollars left to do so, Affliction was bleeding profusely.
In January of this year, six months after Banned, Affliction: Day of Reckoning was scheduled to take place. Another stacked fight card featuring Emelianenko defending his title against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, and former light heavyweight UFC champion Vitor Belfort in a 195 pound catchweight fight; meant another stacked payroll.
The event which once again took place at the Honda Center, had 13,255 in attendance with a total gate of $1,512,750, and was projected to have between 150,000 and 200,000 PPV buys. But with a reported payroll of $3,318,660 plus bonuses, the financial hemorrhage was only made more profuse.
Affliction: Trilogy was scheduled to take place on the first of this month, nearly seven months since their last event. The main card was destined to be an MMA classic, featuring the much anticipated match up between Emelianenko and former UFC & Pride sensation, Josh Barnett.
To the shock of the MMA world, Barnett was forced to pull out of the fight 10 days prior to the event due to positive steroid tests. The fight that was supposed to pull Affliction Entertainment out of bankruptcy was now the final nail in the coffin for the company.
Ridiculous payrolls, long periods of time between events, and lack of hype and advertisement had all taken their toll and on July 24, Affliction Entertainment declared bankruptcy.
Although Affliction Entertainment is no more, Affliction Clothing was a separate entity and is still a vibrant company. They once again have a deal with the UFC to sponsor fighters. It was a falling out between the two companies in January of last year that had lead to the formation of the now defunct Affliction Entertainment.
The fate of the fighters signed with Affliction is uncertain. However, it is suspected that the UFC will pick up the contracts of some 22 or so fighters left out in the cold by the cancelation of Trilogy. But for right now, their fate is largely uncertain. What we can be certain about is that when the UFC decides to sign some of the best fighters in the world, it can only mean exciting things for MMA fans.