As you’ve probably seen already, Entrepreneur Magazine has a profile on Affliction, Tom Atencio and MMA. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the piece except one glaring issue: the amount of homework that went into the article is alarmingly shallow. To wit:
Affliction never planned to take a jab at the fight-club crowd until last year, when it partnered up with none other than Donald Trump. At the time, the company was endorsing athletes across several disciplines (surfing, football, basketball–it even sponsors Ozzy Osbourne). But there was another market begging to be tapped. Money in hand, Atencio, 42, and his partners, Eric Foss and Clifton Chason, both 35, forged a relationship with professional boxing’s Golden Boy Promotions (owned by pay-per-view king Oscar De La Hoya) and hosted Affliction’s second MMA bout, which took place in Anaheim, California, earlier this year. The event filled more than 13,000 seats and drew in more than 100,000 paying viewers.
The widely viewed ticket wasn’t a fluke. All signs say that Affliction has even more to look forward to. MMA’s cable and pay-per-view audiences often beat TV ratings produced by pro sporting events–including baseball, NASCAR and the Stanley Cup Finals—in the coveted 18-to-34 age bracket. The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association reports that participation in martial arts, including MMA, has grown about 11 percent since 2000. And Action Sports Retailer, the popular action-sports apparel convention, added a separate MMA clothing show last September.
“There’s been tremendous growth in the MMA apparel market,” says Eric Foster, president and COO of MMAjunkie.com, one of the sport’s most visited independent sites. “The companies that are successful are run by real MMA fans who understand the sport.”
To Foster’s point, Affliction, whose other staffers also sport huge muscles and acres of scar tissue, has seen average annual growth of more than 300 percent in the past two years. (Foss says the company broke the $100 million revenue mark in 2008.) What’s more, says Atencio, “MMA is still in its infancy. In five to 10 years, it will explode.”
Maybe he’s just wearing his game face, but Atencio seems as fired up to compete as a fighter entering an MMA cage. He’s quick to point out his company’s anabolic growth, including the recent unveiling of its 150,000-square-foot headquarters, which includes an MMA ring where visiting fighters can train. Affliction also plans to promote future events that could create the kind of high-profile business showdown that MMA fans love. “The UFC is threatened by us,” he says. “I’m up for the challenge.”
Very interesting that on the same day this article was published that Dave Meltzer reports (subscription link alert) just the opposite, namely, that there are very strong indicators Affliction’s third show will be their last. Whether the clothing line does well is a separate matter, but Entrepreneur Magazine is groping for the 2006 up-and-coming MMA business story and somehow forgot to include 2009’s reality. The article reeks of the faulty promises and illusory riches that come with the limitless MMA gravy train and noticeably, there is no mention of EliteXC, the IFL or BodogFight. Coincidence?
Worse, they include a small “by the numbers” feature on the website that is ostensibly in place to shed some light on just how lucrative the business of MMA actually is. Some of the stats are meaningless, others are appropriate. But what’s wildly off the mark? The “take for gate receipts at an average MMA fight”: $3.25 million. This is something akin to taking the wealth of street food dealers in the Bakara Market in Mogadishu, adding in Bill Gates’ wealth, then finding the “average”. Really reliable stats work there.
I honestly do not like bashing what exposure MMA gets beyond the shores of its own media and clearly there is still tremendous upside to the sport, but there is no place for articles that fail to perform proper due diligence before getting published or promote a reality that simply does not exist.
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