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Andrei Arlovski’s stock as an MMA prime-time player continues to take a hit

By Zach Arnold | October 6, 2008

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When it was reported last month that only 700 tickets had been sold for Affliction’s October 11th scheduled event at the Thomas & Mack Center for Josh Barnett vs. Andrei Arlovski, I stated that I thought it was a blow to Arlovski’s image in terms of him being perceived as a marketable main event fighter. You can’t headline a building as big as Thomas & Mack and only sell 700 tickets. We knew Barnett would have trouble drawing because he’s not well-known in the States due to fighting mostly in Japan. Arlovski, on the other hand, was marketed for years by UFC and was involved in several key fights for the promotion.

When Affliction reportedly offered to pay the fight money for the Arlovski vs. Roy Nelson fight this past weekend on Elite XC’s CBS telecast, I thought it was a steal for EXC and because of the sheer amount of money that was reportedly paid to Arlovski if he won the fight (7-figures). Coming out of last Saturday’s fight, Arlovski made a ton of money, became a permanent ‘IFL killer’, and… managed to continue building a reputation that he isn’t as marketable to the masses as first thought.

From a report today by Dave Meltzer:

The disappointment of the night was Andrei Arlovski. The former UFC heavyweight champion’s fight with Roy Nelson, the last IFL heavyweight champ, lost 110,000 viewers from the Carano fight.

When this fight was booked at the last minute for the CBS show, everyone was glowing about what a huge addition this was to the fight card. In the end, it meant very little to casual fans.

Topics: Affliction, Media, MMA, Pro Elite, UFC, Zach Arnold | 9 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

9 Responses to “Andrei Arlovski’s stock as an MMA prime-time player continues to take a hit”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    He didn’t come off as a superstar like he did on the UFC Telecasts. Not sure why, because he is capable of that star quality. And that fight wasn’t very good. He was taken down with ease and looked vulnerable for the first round. And his KO wasn’t highlight real material. Not good at all.

  2. Robert Poole says:

    You forget Zach that he was marketed as pretty much an afterthought after the losses to Sylvia and was booked in some horrible stylistic mismatches. None of the opponents booked for him were action fighters at all and it was like Dana White purposely was attempting to devalue him.

    He knocked out Rothwell in a pretty damn exciting performance and while the Nelson match wasn’t incredibly thrilling, let’s face it Roy Nelson is not exciting. He’s a big fat dude who can use his takedown skill and weight to hold you down. Arlovski won by KO and that’s all that matters.

    I also think it’s a bit one sided and disingenuous to attack Arlovski for the poor draw at Thomas & Mack without saying that Barnett isn’t a draw so as a whole the show wouldn’t have drawn anyway, that people had expected Fedor and that was a letdown (if Arlovski had drawn that poorly with Fedor… supposedly Mr. Awesome for all the PRIDE fans… is that all Arlovski’s fault too?) and Affliction had done ZILCH for advertising.

    Plus it was the company’s second show after a poorly advertised first show. That’s a hell of a lot of unfair blame to be laying on Arlovski.

    The reason there was interest in the first show was the cumulative effect of a LOT of big names. Not just the main event. Hardcore MMA fans recognize the names of Arlovski, Vitor, Lindland…. even if the casual fan whom it seemed Affliction didn’t draw anyway, did not.

    The second show was going to be ridiculously lacking in similar names and would have taken a hit from that perspective anyway.

    The lack of star power, lack of advertising, letdown of a changed main event and maybe some other decisions by Affliction that gave people pause (Megadeth on the show, the ring that could double as a house, the poor announcing, the seemingly dead audience from poor crowd mic’ing)… those things probably turned people off to the second show more than Arlovski by himself not being a draw.


  3. D.Capitated says:

    So, he lost 110,000 out of what, over 3 million? A drop of a full 1/30th or so, during which he blew some dude up in front of more viewers than pretty nearly any MMA event ever stateside. Arlovski has no future.

  4. Dave says:

    I’d like to point out as well, Carano gained a ton of viewers and Arlovski held most of the viewers that she gained. He still outperformed some of the early portions.

  5. Robert Poole says:

    Also I think some credence can be given to the fact that Gina Carano draws more viewers because of her looks and dudes will turn in to see a sexy chick, even if she’s throwing punches. After she was done some viewers were as well.

    Did that 110,000 tune back into EliteXC’s show AFTER the Arlovski fight ended?


  6. dave2 says:

    What did Arlovski do compared to Shields/Daley? That will be a better indication if he’s a draw or not. Gina Carano drew 110,000 more but like D Cap said, that’s a drop in the bucket. Besides, Carano is a draw and EliteXC did promote her hard for this event. Out of the 10 fighters on the card, I’d say that Gina got the second biggest marketing push.

  7. Jeremy says:

    Gina did bring plenty of people to the television, but most thought that AA, a former star, would draw as well.

    That Nelson/AA (and we must be fair and point out that Mr. Tubby must get some blame) lost viewers is not a good sign.

  8. Fin Diesel says:

    Remember too that the order of the card wasn’t typical, with the Gina being in a co-main event that was located in the middle of the card. They were attempting to get people to watch Gina during the middle and Kimbo at the end, so they had a more consistent audience throughout the broadcast. From a marketing standpoint, you probably would have had the Shields/Daley fight earlier, then AA/Nelson, then Gina and finally Kimbo…..

  9. klown says:

    Zach is being unfairly harsh on Arlovski, as many people point out above.

    I’ll just add that promotions market fighters, and marketing is actually effective. Even crappy marketing is often successful in selling tickets and PPVs. So promotions bear a large share of the responsibility for fighters’ popularity.


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