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The Affliction Mirage

by:  Kelvin Hunt

Tito Ortiz is an enigma, plain and simple. The former UFC LHW champion hasn’t won against a credible opponent since winning a controversial split decision against a very green Forrest Griffin at UFC 59.  Yet, some people in the industry continue to glorify his past and buy into his own hype.  Well now that last statement can be taken literally, as Ortiz is reportedly close to signing a deal with the MMA promotion known as Affliction.  While it’s clear why Affliction would want a fighter like Ortiz, I’m not exactly sold on him being worth the price tag.  Let’s delve deeper shall we?

The fact of the matter is Affliction is bleeding money like a hemorraged anaconda.  Their initial foray into MMA promotion lost millions of dollars due to poor PPV buys, as well as their fighter pay scale being on steroids.  Affliction’s second offering in October will be similar to their initial card, featuring many of the same fighters.  Which means the pay scale will be inflated again, but they are hoping for better PPV buys.  Which is one of the main reasons Affliction has looked to sign a fighter like Tito Ortiz.  In his prime, Ortiz was the face of the UFC and it’s biggest PPV draw.  Which is clearly something that Affliction is banking on, but the numbers are telling.  Let’s take a look at the PPV buys for the last 5 UFC cards that featured Tito Ortiz:

UFC 59-425,000 PPV buys

UFC 61-775,000 PPV buys

UFC 66-1,050,000 PPV buys

UFC 73-425,000 PPV buys

UFC 84-525,000 PPV buys

Ortiz was the main event in only one of those events (UFC 66) against the biggest MMA star in America (Chuck Liddell).  His second highest total was at UFC 61 against Ken Shamrock, and that fight was promoted during the entire season of TUF 3.  That fight was also billed with the angle of Ortiz getting a rematch with Liddell if he beat Shamrock.  That card also featured the anticipated rematch of Arlovski/Sylvia.   UFC 73 featured Sherk/Franca as the main event with Ortiz fighting the TUF 2 champion Rashad Evans (note the drastic decrease from UFC 66 to 73).  Finally UFC 84 had more to do with his beef with Dana White, than Ortiz’s fight with Machida.  Actually, Dana White probably influenced just as many buys for that card as Ortiz.  Another thing that’s noteworthy is UFC 84 also featured Wanderlei Silva (who’s a star now in America) as well as hardcore favorite BJ Penn.

I think it’s safe to say unless Ortiz is facing a big name opponent, or has his fights promoted significantly by the company…he’s not quite the PPV draw everyone thinks he is.  It’s going to be interesting to see how Ortiz does without the promotional power of the UFC behind him.  Truth be told, Affliction can’t use any UFC footage to promote him nor do they have any big named LHW fighters to help him as a PPV draw.   They also lack the brand name and promotional outlets that the UFC has.  We also have to remember that he pretty much got dismantled by Lyoto Machida in his last fight in the UFC and A LOT of people saw that.  That has to hurt his credibility in terms of claiming to be one of the best in the world.  I’m sure Ortiz can help Affliction add a few more PPV buys, but I don’t think they break even on this deal, especially if he is paid the enormous groundbreaking numbers being forecasted.

Affliction: Day Of Reckoning will reportedly take place on October 11th, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The event will air live on PPV.

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