Quick Thoughts: Affliction Passes Its First Test; Business as Usual for the UFC

July 20, 2008

Affliction: Banned

  • The pacing of the show was brutal (running almost five hours in a testament to the old adage, “too much of a good thing”) and the production wasn’t exactly smooth, but Affliction more than survived its first test as a promoter, presenting a solid show that delivered three exciting heavyweight fights to close the night.
  • The official gate numbers aren’t yet available and pay-per-view results won’t be in for weeks, but with a $4-6 million payroll, in addition to startup costs, it’s a virtual certainty that the show lost money. That said, it’s important to remember that Zuffa lost roughly $40 million between its first event (UFC 30 in 2001) and UFC 51 (the first pay-per-view after the Ultimate Fighter), for an average of roughly $2 million an event. And since that time the financial stakes of the sport have been raised significantly.
  • Last night wasn’t about the present as much as it was the future. Affliction established a base from which it can extend the reach of its brand, particularly with several attractive heavyweight matches in play over the next two events. The company could easily go to Fedor v. Barnett and/or Arlovski over the next two shows, putting aside the potential mega-fight with Couture.

UFC: Silva vs Irvin

  • The ultimate success of this show depends on two factors: how much it hurt Affliction and how much it helped Anderson Silva. As noted above, the effect on Affliction’s bottom line is unknown for the moment, but the show almost certainly elevated Silva.
  • The UFC spent two weeks telling everyone that would listen that Silva was the best pound for pound fighter in the world today. The return on that investment of time and resources was another stunning performance that paves the way for a number of big fights in the UFC’s premiere division, if the company and Silva are so inclined. It will be interesting to see the rating for the show, but if that didn’t make Anderson Silva a draw, perhaps nothing will.
  • That said, Patrick Cote is not the opponent to go to next. Despite what he or anybody else says, Silva has already cleaned out the Middleweight division of marketable challengers. 205 pounds is where Silva belongs for the foreseeable future.
  • Overall it was another solid event for the UFC, something it doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves for consistently delivering. The company’s complete competency as a live event producer and its regular habit of delivering entertaining events is largely taken for granted. However, contrasted with Affliction’s maiden voyage, the UFC’s nearly seamless production was much easier to appreciate. Affliction may have shown that it has the best heavyweight division in the sport, but the UFC proved once again that its presentation is unmatched. Experience has its advantages and its something that money can’t buy.

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