I haven't been able to put in the kind of research I'd like to for this little bit, so if I'm just factually wrong on any point please let me know.
Now lets jump right in.
Im feel certain that you haven't quite heard enough about whats going on with Tom Atencio, Fedor, Josh Barnett, M1,Affliction, etc, so I am going to go ahead and try and supply you with even more fodder. Looking over the way Affliction ran their business, I've noticed a few things that they were lacking that any successful promotion should really make priorities. Some of these things might of been missing just as a result of bad luck, uncooperative sponsors/potential partners, are a failure to sufficiently sacrifice skull babies to the moon god.
Theres two main things I think that were compounded by other missteps: they wanted to fancy themselves UFC competitors, and they relied heavily on Fedor to make that happen without making serious inroads at building up anyone other than Fedor or his victims.
The main thing I saw with Affliction MMA, and maybe this is just me, is that they followed the EliteXC model in putting all their eggs in one Russian basket in order to accomplish their misguided goal. Affliction refused to put on an event minus Fedor, and they couldn't have accomplished their goals without Fedor as they seemed to want to compete directly with the UFC, something impossible simply with the likes of Gilbert Yvel, Dan Lauzon, Babalu, Belfort or Chris Horodecki rounding out their ranks. This isn't to say they couldn't be a respected, internationally followed promotion, it is simply to say that they weren't going to be the company that challenged the UFC, or even Strikeforce for that matter, as there was simply a lack of mainland name recognition.
Think about it, without Fedor, what would Affliction have to offer with the name brand at stock level? Sylvia/Arlovski 4? We saw Belfort/Lindland, Sobral/Sokodjou, Barnett/Yvel. What else did Affliction had to offer? Nothing. So what they needed and sufficiently failed to do was to promote the rest of their roster, aside from building up Arlovski, and now Barnett. So when Arlovski lost, or Barnett either a: lost, or b: went to UFC, where would Affliction then be even if Trilogy had taken off? With Fedor and Fedor alone.
They could have very easily built up compelling storylines (which really they failed to do even with Fedor/Barnett) with guys like Matt Lindland, a spur in the UFC's side much in the style of Affliction and one of the best in the world, or the man who beat him, Vitor Belfort, the man who beat Randy Couture, Heath Herring and Wanderlei Silva, all brand name fighters. Even guys like Chris Horodecki, Little Nog, and Sokoudjou were highly marketable. But did anyone see any serious steps towards promoting these guys? This is an honest question, did anyone see these things in banner ads, magazine ads, taxi ads, billboards, etc?
Look at the UFC, as they are the masters at this. The Ultimate Fighter TV show ensures that they can plug in at least one or two fights with guys who are established names with relatively casual fans either through coaching or fighting. Aside from this, they invest in more than one fight on each of their events. UFC 100 had three big fights, UFC 99 pushed the Kongo v Herring/Velasquez as well as Franklin/Silva, UFC 98 pushed Hughes/Serra as well as Evans/Machida, UFC 97 pushed Liddell/Shogun as well as Silva/Lietes, etc etc right on down the line. This is why I dont put much stock in to it when people say the UFC is overstacking its cards. Truly they are setting themselves up for even more seemingly stacked cards in the future.
If Affliction had built up their lesser known but highly talented fighters, and relied less on Fedor, and submitted to the UFC superiority and recognized their current role in the MMA world, they could have still let Fedor v Monson/Na be the main event with strong co main events in any two of the Yvel/Buentello, Moussasi/Babalu or Horodecki/Lauzon fights, not to mention Gomi's appearance. These are strong, strong comain events for a midlevel promotion. But noooo, Affliction thought they were the bees knees wax.
EliteXC did the same thing in that they felt themselves a competitor for the UFC, and in that they went all in on a Kimbo card (something like pocket deuces), but they were different from Affliction in one way, a way that I give Affliction credit for: EliteXC lied to make a quick buck. They promoted Kimbo as a legitimate heavyweight contender, and paid the price dearly when he bit the Seth Petruzelli bullet. Affliction was never really dishonest in their promotion, maybe that was just because their demographic is generally more MMA-savvy than EliteXC's CBS demo with Kimbo. Promoters who want to stick around for a while really need to be honest or it WILL come back to bite them in the end.
Affliction seemed to do other things, or didnt, that I felt bid towards their demise. One thing is that their advertising had the military precision of Kyle Bradley in a paint mixer. In advertising these events, I feel they would have been better suited to have spent less money with ads that would reach many people who didnt care about MMA and more money towards the MMA crowd. Every radio ad you buy, lets say, reaches a lot of MMA fans, but your also paying to reach awhole hell of a lot of people who dont care about MMA and will not care about MMA. This poor strategy was compounded by their failure to build up their other fighters. A casual fan, I believe is less inclined to go to buy this event to watch JUST one fighter he's excited about, especially if the one hardcore MMA fan in his friend group doesn't seem super stoked about this fight because Affliction failed to pursue the hardcore MMA fan demographic sufficiently.
Or maybe Im wrong about everything and Im just coleko v2.0. Idk, let me know. Im done talking now either way.
PS Affliction makes pure crap clothes.