Evaluating Affliction

One of the questions that I keep thinking about is whether or not Affliction in here to stay and whether or not they will compete with the UFC.  No one disagrees that UFC is the standard of MMA right now, but Affliction is making up ground quickly.  It has been a tell tale sign of a slight change that Affliction has signed so many guys lately including many of the stars from the now defunt IFL, which was bought by the parent company of the UFC, Zuffa.  Affliction has signed Champs Roy Nelson and Vladimir Matyushenko.  They have signed lightweight star Chris Horodecki and are rumored to have welterweight champ Jay Hieron.  Affliction is cleaning up the free agents and doing better in that regard than even the UFC as of late.  So, what is there to judge a promotion…

1. Fighter Talent – Fight promotions are fight promotions.  There are other factors that come into play, but primarily if a promotion does not have top level talent they will not stay relevant.

2. Show Quality –  While good fighters is essential, the promotion must put on a good show.  They must entertain fans.  This includes exciting fights, good commentators and a solid show production.  Promotions have to build shows people will come to or buy.

3.  Solid Managment –  Managment is important to a fight promotion, not just anyone can do it.  A promotion may suceed or fail based ont he business savvy of the fight promoter or president.  The PR, fighter pay, contracts, TV deals, etc. all come into play here.

With that said, let’s see how Affliction is doing…

1. Fighter Talent…

There is a lot of hype around Affliction’s fighter talent.  Here is who I can think of off hand that they have and will use on their cards

  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Andrei Arlovski
  • Josh Barnett
  • Tim Sylvia
  • Ben Rothwell
  • Roy Nelson
  • Pedro Rizzo
  • Paul Buentello
  • Aleksander Emelianenko
  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
  • Tito Ortiz
  • Vladimir Matyushenko
  • Renato “Babalu” Sobral
  • Mike Whitehead
  • Edwin DeWees
  • Vernon White
  • Vitor Belfort
  • Matt Lindland
  • Jay Hieron
  • Mike Pyle
  • J.J. Ambrose
  • Chris Horodecki

I went to HDNet’s Rankings to see how many Affliction Fighters were ranked in the top 100 pound for pound or top in their divisons  here is the results.

(Pound for Pound Rank, Divison Rank)

  • Fedor Emelianenko (2, 1)
  • Andrei Arlovski (25, 4)
  • Josh Barnett (27, 5)
  • Tim Sylvia (55, 7)
  • Ben Rothwell (81, 12)
  • Roy Nelson (84, 13)
  • Pedro Rizzo (NR, 19)
  • Paul Buentello (NR, NR)
  • Aleksander Emelianenko (76, 10)
  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (85, 13)
  • Tito Ortiz (87, 15)
  • Vladimir Matyushenko (66, 12)
  • Renato “Babalu” Sobral (92, 16)
  • Mike Whitehead (NR, NR)
  • Edwin DeWees (NR, NR)
  • Vernon White (NR, NR)
  • Vitor Belfort (NR, NR) – Unfairly I’d admit
  • Matt Lindland (22, 5)
  • Jay Hieron (59, 11)
  • Mike Pyle (NR, NR)
  • J.J. Ambrose (NR, NR)
  • Chris Horodecki (NR, NR)
  • Put this into perspective, out of the top 100 the promotions faires like this in pound for pound top 100 fighters…

    • UFC -39
    • Affliction – 13
    • DREAM -12
    • WEC – 10
    • EliteXC – 10
    • Strikeforce – 5
    • World Victory Road – 3

    The point is that Affliction’s talent is overrated. 

    • They are right about the level of DREAM talent wise
    • They are no where near the talent level of the UFC
    • 10 of the Affliction guys that appeared on the rankings list have fought in the UFC before.  Some have been sucessful.  There are several former UFC champs (Sylvia, Barnett, Rizzo, Ortiz and Arlovski), however most of them did no better than fair in the UFC (see Matyushenko, Hieron, et. al)
    • Most of the top Affliction guys are in the second half of their careers and are past their prime.  They still have fight left in them, don’t get me wrong, but not for the long haul
    • What happens if two or three of those gusy get injured?  Affliction is hanging their hat on Fedor, Barnett, Arlovski and Ortiz.  They cannot keep putting everyone on every card, they will run out of match-ups.
    • To their credit, they can put on good fights.  The talent isn’t bad.  Their guys can fight exciting fighter, but they have exciting fights at tough man competitions. They need to sign younger talent and more talent.

    Show Quality…

    • I cannot judge them solely on their sole show.  Affliction needs to improve their show quality as far as commentating, interviews and production is concerned
    • Also, I thought with the exception of the last 3 fights the card wasn’t what it was billed to be
    • They are nowhere near the UFC level as far as enjoyability to watch

    Solid Managment:

    • The UFC with Dana White and the Fertitas is still the managment standard.  I have problems with the UFC and Dana White’s managing style.  I don’t like his constant expletives, I don’t like the way he trashes other promotions, I don’t like the stubborness he exhibits with signing guys like Lindland and Barnett, and even Fedor.  However, Dana is crafty.  Atencio is no Dana White.  Watch his video below where he can’t remember Josh Barnett’s name and he is the main event for the second show. 
    • Affliction does have the deep pocketed Donald Trump behind them which helps.  Trump is a business guiness, but he doesn’t neccessarily know MMA.  The money helps thought he same way it helped having Lorezon and Frank in the UFC early days when they lost tons of money.

    Here is the point folks…Affliction is a solid upstart company.  They may be around for a while, but before we jump ont he bandwagon and label them peers to the UFC and competitors to the UFC let them get through a few shows first.  Let’s see how much money they lose after 3 events.  Let’s see how many fights they can do after 3 card.  They could compete, but as for now it is the UFC and then everyone else.  Zuffa is sitting pretty in the MMA world.  They are the big leagues, everything else is just the minors.  Affliction, EliteXC and DREAM are in the same boat and in a year from now at least one of them will be non-existent.

    Affliction: Banned Fighter Salaries

    The pay of the fighters is the disclosed amount to the CSAC.  The fighters likely were paid more than that when you include other bonuses and sponsor’s pay. 

    A few thoughts on the pay of the Affliction fighters…

    ·         The pay was very, very high in contrast to even UFC fighters.  For example, Matt Lindlad took home $100,000 more than Anderson Silva did for his fight on the same night. 

    ·         Fedor was grossly underpaid in comparison to other fighters.  I thought he was making more than $1 million for this fight.  Perhaps he is. 

    ·         Tim Sylvia is very overpaid

    ·         Some fighters by this scale were still overpaid

    ·         Some fighters by this scale were still underpaid.  I am shocked Nogueira only made $50,000, the same amount as Mike Whitehead. 

    ·         I don’t know what UFC fighters come away with, but the biggest competition Affliction will give the UFC is fighter pay

    ·         It will be hard for them to cover this financially.  God thing they have Trump. 

     

    Tim Sylvia: $800,000

    Andrei Arlovski: $750,000 (includes $250,000 win bonus)

    Fedor Emelianenko: $300,000 (no win bonus)
    Josh Barnett: $300,000 (no win bonus)

    Matt Lindland: $300,000 (includes $75,000 win bonus)

    Ben Rothell: $250,000

    Vitor Belfort: $140,000 (includes $70,000 win bonus)

    Renato “Babalu” Sobral: $90,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)

    Paul Buentello: $80,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
    Pedro Rizzo: $70,000

    Mike Whitehead: $50,000

    Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: $50,000 (no win bonus)

    Terry Martin: $30,000

    Gary Goodridge: $25,000

    Fabio Nascimento: $20,00O
    Mike Pyle: $20,000 (includes $5,000 win bonus)

    Edwin Dewees: $15,000

    Mark Hominick: $10,000 (includes $5,000 win bonus)
    Savant Young: $7,000

    Justin Levens: $6000
    JJ Ambrose: $5,000

    Ray Lizama: $3,000

    Total Payout

    A disclosed total of $3,332,100 was paid out to the fighters.

    Live Gate:

    Paid attendance: 11,242
    Complimentary attendance: 3,590
    Total attendance: 14,832

    Gross receipt from ticket sales (live gate): $2,085,510

    My Thoughts on Affliction: Banned

    Let me share the negatives first:

    • The fights went as expected.  Out of the 9 fights that I predicted I got 9 right.  There were not any upsets
    • The announcers were sub par to say the least
    • I did not like that fights were cancelled last second like the Aleksander Emelianenko fight, it seemed to show some disorder
    • I thought the fights were slow paced, but the last 3 fights were good as was the Nogueira fight and the Belfort fight.

    The Good:

    • Fedor.  Let the debate begin as to who the number one pound for pound fighter is.  Only two names are in the discussion (Anderson Silva and Fedor Emelianenko).  In my opinion, both guys helped plead their cases for that title last night.  Fedor crushed Silva.  I didn’t expect that bad of a beating.  I picked Fedor, but I thought it would last more than one minute.  Fedor beat Sylvia easier than he beat Hong Man Choi.  He punched him and dropped him.  He did what Randy could not do and that is finish the fight with Sylvia.  Fedor was the highlight of the show
    • Josh Barnett looked great.  I know many people want to see Fedor vs. Couture next, and Randy was even brought into the ring to hype that fight, but Josh Barnett may be deserving of that fight.  The next card may feature Barnett vs. Arlovski and Couture vs. Fedor with the winners squaring off on the third card. 
    • Arlovski looked imrpessive as well.  He looked better than he had previously in the last few fights in the UFC.  His boxing looked crisp and good.
    • Vitor Belfort is back.  He looked great at 185.  I’d love to see Lindland vs. Belfort at 185.  Affliction has said they will likely use the winners of these fights on their next card, that fight is very possible.
    • Congrats to Paul Buentello, Babalu, Matt Lindland, and Mike Pyle who also won as expected. 
    • Apparently they sold out with over 13,000 people in attendance.  The crowd was loud at times.

    If Affliction is going to use winners of this card to set up match ups for the next card the card could look like this:

    • Fedor Emelianenko vs. Randy Couture
    • Josh Barnett vs. Andrei Arlovski
    • Matt Lindland vs. Vitor Belfort
    • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral
    • Tim Sylvia vs. Ben Rothwell
    • Paul Buentello vs. Aleksander Emelianenko

    My Affliction: Banned Predictions

    Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Sylvia

    I believe this to be an interesting fight.  I also think that Fedor’s last fight with Hong Man Choi was a great prep course for Tim Sylvia.  The biggest problem Fedor will have with Tim Sylvia is his size.  Sylvia is 6’9″  He is huge.  Fedor will want to take this fight down to the ground, and I imagine that he will do it.  Tim has no ground game at all.  I don’t know how long it will take Fedor to get the fight down, but once he gets it down the fight won’t last long.  I pick Fedor Emelianenko to win this fight in round 2. 

    Andrei Arlovski vs. Ben Rothwell

    I know many people like Ben Rothwell, and that many rank him highly among the heavyweights, but I honestly do not know how good he is.  I do know how good Arlovski can be.  He hasn’t looked great lately, but he is by far the most talented guy Rothwell has fought.  I think Arlovski will win by TKO in round 3.

    Josh Barnett vs. Pedro Rizzo

    Barnett is looking for redemption.  In my opinion, Rizzo is not in his prime any more.  Barnett is very talented and very experienced.  I do not see Rizzo beating Barnett again.  I think that Josh Barnett wins this fight by unanimous decision.

    Matt Lindland vs. Fabio Negao

    This is a mis-match.  Lindland is one of the best 185ers in the world.  Fabio is unknown.  Lindland may have been too busy lately with politics to train the right way for this fight, but I don’t think it will matter here.  Lindland will win this fight by submission in round 1.

    Renato “Babalu” Sobral vs. Mike Whitehead

    Mike Whitehead was a UFC flop.  Babalu is very good.  Babalu will submit Whitehead in round 2.

    Paul Buentello vs. Aleksander Emelianenko

    Don’t overlook this Emelianenko.  He is a good fighter in his own right.  Aleks wins by decision.

    Vitor Belfort vs. Terry Martin

    Vitor at 185?  Believe it.  He has been an up and down guy and so has Terry Martin.  Terry Martin is not bad, but Belfort is very good.  I think belfort will KO Martin in round 1. 

    Edwin Dewees vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

    Don’t overlook this Nogueira.  He is not a bad fighter in his own right.  This is a huge mismatch.  Nog is btter than DeWees.  Edwin hasn’t had proper time to prepare.  Nogueira will win this fight easily. 

    Ray Lazama vs. Justin Levens

    J.J. Ambrose vs. Mike Pyle

    Mark Hominick vs. Savant Young

    Affliction News: Fedor vs. Sylvia for Heavyweight Title

    It seems that the Fedor vs. Sylvia fight will be for a Heavyweight title.  Most belts outside the UFC mean very little, but this would be prominent because Affliction is stacked at Heavyweight.  Perhaps this would also be for the top heavyweight spot.  I don’t know if a win makes Sylvia the best heavyweight, in fact I think it makes Randy Couture the best heavyweight, but Sylvia is up there win or lose.  Also the Affliction: Banned card is shaping up nicely.  Recently a middleweight bout has been added between Vitor Belfot and Terry Martin. 

    Here Are my Affliction Rankings by divison:

    Heavyweight:

    1. Fedor Emelianenko

    2. Tim Sylvia

    3. Josh Barnett

    4. Andrei Arlovski

    5. Ben Rothwell

    6. Aleksander Emelianenko

    7. Pedro Rizzo

    8. Paul Buentello

    Light Heavyweight

    1. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

    2. Renato “Babalu” Sobral

    3. Mike Whitehead

    4. Vernon White

    Middleweight

    1. Matt Lindland

    2. Vitor Belfort

    3. Terry Martin

    4. Fabio Negao

    Welterweight

    1. Mike Pyle

    2. J.J. Ambrose