Tom Atencio, while moonlighting as Affliction’s VP and a professional mixed martial arts fighter, recently sat down with Loretta Hunt of Sherdog.com to discuss among other topics; Affliction’s third event, his own upcoming fight set for June 27th in Biloxi, MS, and his ongoing feud with UFC President Dana White. Here are some highlights from the interview:
Sherdog: What compelled you to take another fight right now?
Atencio: I have no clue. I’ve been wanting to [fight] since I did the first time [Atencio fought and won for Total Combat in January 2005], not that I have time now, but everybody’s willing to let me make the time, so I figured better now than never.
Sherdog: How are you finding the time to train for a fight and also get another Affliction event together?
Atencio: Good question. (Laughs.) I have a lot of help here. Tracy helps me. I got a lot of good people here. People are picking up the slack, for sure.
Sherdog: I’m going to play devil’s advocate. I’m going to be one of the people that might be asking, “Why are you spending all this extra time and energy training to fight, when you could be putting it into promoting the third Affliction show that everyone wants?”
Atencio: The third Affliction show is being put together right now, so I will give everybody what they want. It’s just one of those things that takes time. I always say this over and over and over again: This is only our third event. It’s not like we’ve done small events prior to our first one. It takes time to re-structure and figure everything out. Yeah, I understand the fans and people want us to continue, but when you’re new to it, you take your time because you want to get it right. You don’t want to make the same mistakes that I’ve made on the last two shows.
Sherdog: You are portrayed as the front man for Affliction, the one that makes it all go. Have any fighters voiced their concerns that your fighting right now might slow down them getting their contracted fights with Affliction? Have you had any opposition from the contracted fighters, many of which you are close with?
Atencio: No, I haven’t. Actually, it’s just the opposite. A lot of them are happy for me. It’s not like I’m fighting in my own event, so I’m not taking away a fight from anybody that fights for me. It’s actually just the opposite. I’ve been able to fortunately get some of the fighters on this show as well. I think most of the guys know I’m fair and I try to do what I can for them. If they need to fight, I understand that we’re not putting on shows every four months or whatever it is. We don’t have a schedule as of right now. We should have a schedule after this [next] one. So, I try to be fair and if they need to take a fight somewhere else because they need money I completely understand that and I allow them. The only thing I ask is they talk to me and it doesn’t conflict with something we have going on.
Sherdog: Just to clarify, I thought a majority of the fighters Affliction had under contract are non-exclusive.
Atencio: Well, they’re exclusive in the U.S. They’re not exclusive for the world, like Japan, Canada and other countries.
Sherdog: I’ve also been told that you’re getting paid $20,000 to fight on June 27. I have to ask if that’s true since it’s a substantial purse for a fighter’s second fight.
Atencio: When it comes to money, I always treat it like business. I’m not a typical fighter, so I don’t talk about my finances. If it’s public knowledge, then you’re obviously going to know. It would be like you asking me how much I get paid at Affliction. I wouldn’t tell you. It’s just something I don’t feel comfortable discussing.
Sherdog: I’ve heard Affliction’s next event might be held on Aug. 1. Am I in the ballpark?
Atencio: We’re looking at July or August. I can’t confirm anything yet until… unfortunately I feel like I’m a politician now because I dodge questions and the only reason why is if I give definites and we don’t live up to them, I’m criticized. Until I have everything finalized, the contracts and the fighters finalized, everything in a row, I don’t announce anything. I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be able to make an announcement.
Sherdog: Explain this challenge you’ve made to Dana White.
Atencio: I’ve said it multiple times. I would like to fight him. I’m not Tito Ortiz and I don’t think that fight was ever, ever going to go off. So, I just think I’m an everyday guy like him, hardworking, so we’re both promoters. I think if he’s willing to act like a fighter, why not fight? Sometimes he comes off as a tough guy, and I think its just time to either step up or, you know, quit being a bully.
Sherdog: If you read between the lines, it seems something may have occurred between you and White between this interview and the last one you did with Sherdog.com. Did something happen?
Atencio: No, I’ve always wanted to challenge him. I think it would be good for both of us. You look at somebody and every other word is the f-word, or when he’s talking to people it’s, “Get off your ass and do it.” I’m a huge fan of “The Ultimate Fighter,” but he comes off as a fighter and he’s not. If he’s gonna act like one, be one.
Sherdog: Has Dana White contacted you regarding this invitation?
Atencio: No, not that I know of. Like I said, I’m not trying to come off tough. I’m not trying to change my image, that I’ve always said I’ll try and be humble, but I think it’s come to a point where Dana needs to understand what these guys really go through.
For the complete interview with Tom Atencio, head over to Sherdog.com by clicking here.