(At least some people still do work for their half a mill, son.)
Before his bout with Andrei Arlovski on Saturday night, Roy Nelson said he wasn’t completely sure who was signing his check. Now we not only know it was Affliction, but we also know that “Big Country” and Arlovski made a combined $580,000 to represent the clotheir-turned-promoter on CBS. The bulk of that money — $500,000 with no win bonus — went to Arlovski for his impressive knockout victory. Even for Affliction, who likes throwing around money almost as much as they love skulls and chains, that’s a hefty price to pay to put one fight on someone else’s show. So was it worth it?
Aside from the exposure for their fighters, Affliction got their ban lifted long enough to throw their logos on the cage and get a few commercials in during the broadcast. As MMA Payout pointed out, that might say more about CBS’ ad sales for this show than it does for Affliction’s arrangement with Elite XC, but either way now there are a few million more people in the world who know about the Andrei Arlovski signature t-shirt line, and every little bit helps.
There’s also the matter of the aggressively vague “Fedor Will Return” ads (was anyone else reminded of the “Gabbo is coming!” ads from The Simpsons?). Beyond heaping more indignity on Tim Sylvia’s loss by pointing out that almost the entire fight can fit in one network TV spot, it does help get the word out to casual fight fans. The only problem is that when you don’t have a date or event to hype, you have to wonder what that’s really worth.
Affliction had a great opportunity with those ads to really advance public knowledge of their MMA organization. Instead they hyped their shirts and failed to tell us when and how we could pay them money to see their marquee fighter perform. I suppose you have to know that information yourself before you can pass it on to others, but isn’t that just one more reason for them to get moving on this January event?
Affliction VP Tom Atencio said before this event that one of his primary motivations was using the Elite XC CBS broadcast as an opportunity to showcase Andrei Arlovski. Hopefully he was happy with what he saw, since that was half a million dollars worth of showcasing. But I have to wonder if it’s going to have the desired effect.
To hardcore MMA fans, the Arlovski-Nelson fight proved two things: 1) Arlovski is still vulnerable on the ground (if not for an odd stand-up he might have found his way into a kimura in the first round), and 2) Arlovski’s striking is every bit as dangerous as it has looked in his last few fights. In other words, we learned nothing new. He beat someone he was supposed to beat. He looked good doing it, and you might even say he made his case as the most talented and explosive fighter on the card, but a knockout win over Nelson wasn’t exactly shocking.
Casual fans — who may know Arlovski from his UFC days and may not — probably didn’t know enough about Roy Nelson to know that Arlovski’s win was still significant. To them, it most likely looked like a muscular werewolf beating up on a fat guy. A knockout always gets people’s attention no matter what, but will they remember that moment in January, when Affliction finally gets a card together?
You have to admire Affliction’s willingness to lend their fighters out, and I’m sure Arlovski and Nelson both appreciated the opportunity to make some cash after the October 11 event was “rescheduled.” But you have to wonder how long Affliction can spend this kind of money without seeing much in return. With economists talking recession, you also have to wonder whether $50 t-shirts won’t be the first thing to get cut from the average person’s budget.