Over at Bloody Elbow, Michael Rome argues that Affliction might want to consider ditching the ‘stacked card’ mentality in exchange for boxing’s method of having one main fight and a meh undercard:
In fight promotion, it is a universal truth that the main event sells PPV buys. There’s a reason UFC 66 did over a million buys and UFC 73 did under 400,000. Similarly, Oscar de la Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather did over 2 million buys without any fights on the undercard to speak of. If Affliction can promote joint shows with just one big MMA fight and one big boxing fight, they may be able to pull in enough buys on PPV to survive. Besides those two fights, the fights on the undercard don’t matter at all, and they need to avoid fights like Matt Lindland vs. Trevor Prangley, which would have cost about $350,000 for nothing in return.
If the January show has Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski, as well as the kind of boxing fight that would usually draw about 150,000-200,000 buys on PPV, they could very well double the buys of their initial show without increasing their payroll, as long as they cut out the ridiculous undercard contracts from their last show. They don’t even have to market this as a mixed show, they just have to market the two big fights. I am no advertising executive, but I think separate campaigns hyping each big fight could be effective at bringing fans of both in for the show.
One of the big reasons boxing sucks is because of the fact that their cards are balls past the main event. Not only does this mean you’ve got a night of uninspired undercard bouts, but new stars aren’t being built up the same way they are in MMA. As Dana White has often said, these are decisions made to maximize profits in the short term but end up fuxxoring the sport in the long run.
While I agree with the fact that fights like Lindland vs Prangley equal $350,000 worth of worthlessness in terms of draw, a promotion still needs a mechanism to create new headliners. The UFC spent several years and millions of dollars setting up a system which does that quite effectively now. Could it be that organizations like Affliction will never be able to duplicate that ability? Are they doomed to have to cobble together cards featuring stars built by other organizations?