Affliction folds promotion, will sponsor UFC

After promoting two critically acclaimed but financially disastrous mixed martial arts cards, Affliction on Friday first canceled its pay-per-view card scheduled for Aug. 1 and then opted to get out of the promotional business.

Affliction released a statement Friday evening in which it announced “a collaboration with the UFC.” It confirmed that it will cease operations as a fight promoter and that its clothing division will become a UFC sponsor.

“Our brand is synonymous with the ‘Live Fast’ approach to life and UFC is the perfect venue for us to market our brand. We have come to an agreement with the UFC which we feel will be the best for the sport and will help the UFC continue delivering the highest caliber of fights.” said Eric Foss, co-founder of Affliction.

Affliction had a card slated for Aug. 1 with a main event of Fedor Emelianenko, the No. 2 fighter in the Yahoo! Sports mixed martial arts rankings, against former UFC champion Josh Barnett at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

But Barnett tested positive for an anabolic steroid and on Tuesday was denied a license to fight by the California State Athletic Commission.

That left Affliction scrambling to find a replacement for Emelianenko. With no viable alternatives – the best was former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, who was already down to 195 pounds for a scheduled middleweight fight – Affliction early Friday opted to scrap the show.

Later in the day, Affliction came to terms on a deal with the UFC in which it would quit promoting fight cards. The UFC is likely to absorb the contracts of all Affliction fighters except Emelianenko.

Emelianenko’s contractual status is not known, though UFC president Dana White said Friday he is trying to negotiate a deal with the Russian.

Multiple sources had indicated to Yahoo! Sports that Affliction was on the verge of a deal with Strikeforce for some sort of merger, but that fell apart in the last 24-48 hours. That’s when talks began anew between White and Affliction. They had spoken earlier in July about such a scenario, but were unable to come to a deal.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Friday, Jul 24, 2009