Affliction seems like they have it all together. The MMA lifestyle conglomerate has done a marvelous job of bringing their extravagant, counterculture, rock ‘n roll-driven designer brand to the mainstream. Maybe too marvelous of a job.
The clothing giant has sponsored major events like the Revolver Golden Gods Awards recently held at the Club Nokia in California and they have an official NASCAR racecar of their own. They’ve even recruited superstars like Randy Couture, former WWE Champion The Undertaker, and metalcore outfit Avenged Sevenfold to wear their bad ass designer t-shirts. Now everybody wants to wear Affliction products, even Spencer Pratt and those other worthless douches from The Hills. No wonder why Dana White is mad at them: he hates The Hills.
But as a hardnosed businessman from the Northeast, the UFC President has a more important reason to dislike the brand and it’s because Affliction is competition.
Or are they? Seriously, Affliction is not a real fight promotion. Just because they threw two shows together in a one-year time span doesn’t mean they are official or in the same league as prospering fight organizations like UFC, Strikeforce or even Bellator. Not in the least.
In early 2008, Affliction signed Fedor Emelianenko to an exclusive contract and put the wheels in motion for what was supposed to be an “epic battle” against Tim Sylvia. This was supposed to be the “coming out” party. This was the moment where they would raise their glasses full of Hennessy and say, “Fuck you. Affliction is here and we’re taking over.”
But since the Last Emperor’s 36-second demolition at Affliction: Banned on July 19, 2008, there has only been one additional event – Affliction: Day Of Reckoning this past January – and only after it was cancelled and later re-scheduled.
Affliction gave the impression that they were a serious threat in the fight market. The lifestyle conglomerate signed every free agent they could to a lofty contract, and word on the street is that they gave away thousands of tickets, down priced some more and didn’t perform too well in the PPV department. They went from wanting to run four shows a year to barely pulling off two, so obviously either the “t-shirt guys” are bleeding money or they’re just lazy. Or both.
It’s crazy too, considering that everybody and their momma are wiling to throw 60 bones down for an Affliction shirt, yet have no bloody clue they run a promotion that throws an event every other leap year, let alone purchase a 40 dollar pay per view. On second thought, maybe they aren’t doing that marvelous of a job.
Affliction isn’t the real competitive MMA promotion like they envisioned. They’re more like the punk rock clothing company Vans. Actually, they’re exactly like Vans except they come across as imitation sneakers.
Just check out the similarities:
➢ Vans specializes in clothing, especially shoes, designed to appeal to the punk rock crowd. Affliction specializes in clothing designed to appeal to MMA fans.
➢ Vans hosts Warped Tour and sponsors many events like the Winter X-Games, not to mention a plethora of BMX riders, Motocross riders, snowboarders, skaters and surfers. Affliction sponsors the M-1 Fight Challenge, the Revolver Golden Gods Awards, the Music As A Weapon Tour, and a grocery list of mixed martial artists.
➢ Ok. This where it gets tricky. Vans takes their show on the road every summer for all the punk kids to enjoy. Affliction, not so much. They’re more like Ozzfest in that respect. Nowadays, Ozzfest has just one big show a year. Affliction might have two, but they’re two good fucking shows.
Vans doesn’t portray themselves as a record label or a music distribution company. They’re a clothing company, just like Affliction, and they use Warped Tour as a natural extension, or a vehicle, to advertise and promote their brand.
As such, Affliction should put their Vans on. They should stop portraying themselves as a full-fledged MMA league that will compete with the UFC and Strikeforce, and instead focus on throwing the MMA version of “Wrestlemania” every year for fighters who aren’t under the Zuffa umbrella.
And next time, don’t invite Dave Mustaine to perform at your event. Yeah he is a metal pioneer and was an awesome songwriter like 25 years ago. Be hip. Be dangerous. Bring Killswitch Engage or Atreyu to the show and stop acting old school like high top Adidas.