Affliction Entertainment Vice President Tom Atencio has been a busy man lately. In addition to defeating Randy Hedderick at Ultimate Chaos last month, he has his company’s third major pay-per-view event – Affliction: Trilogy – coming up in less then two weeks. The event takes place on August 1, 2009, in Anaheim, California at the Honda Center and is headlined by WAMMA Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko defending his title against Josh Barnett.
Atencio took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with Rod Moyer of FightLine.com. In part two of the interview below, Atencio talks about the big Trilogy event, his thoughts on UFC 100 and Brock Lesnar’s post-fight antics, having a show without Fedor and more. Click here for part one of the interview, where he talks about what a day in his life is like, his feud with the UFC, Bobby Lashley possibly coming into Afflication and much more.
FightLine.com: August 1st, Affliction: Trilogy is coming up. It’s your third event. There’s a lot of speculation that this is going to be the last event that Affliction does.
Atencio: First and foremost, people have always been saying that we’re not going to last. People said that after my first event, I wouldn’t be here for a second. People said after the second, we wouldn’t be here for a third. Once the third shows up, were going to re-evaluate everything, and announce what were going to do for the rest of the year, and what we’re going to do after that.
FightLine.com: Josh Barnett faces Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction: Trilogy and told us that he’s not scared of Fedor, and he plans on becoming the number one pound-for-pond fighter in the world. If Barnett wins, will you view him as the number one pound-for-pond fighter in the world?
Atencio: I don’t see Josh being afraid of anybody, and yeah, I think if he beats Fedor, it will definitely catapult him up there and give him a lot of stardom. So yeah, that’s why I’m so excited for this fight.
FightLine.com: Who do you consider to be the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world?
Atencio: Pound-for-pound right now, there’s three fighters that are the best in the world. Fedor, George St. Pierre, and Anderson Silva, I think arguably are the best fighters in the world. They haven’t been beaten recently, and I think their records speak for themselves.
FightLine.com: Now speaking of Fedor, its also been reported that you would like to sign him through 2012. Dana White recently said that he’s looking to sign Fedor. Obviously, all of that remains to be seen. Where are you right now in terms of Fedor. Do you kind of look at keeping Fedor like the Cleveland Cavaliers look at keeping Lebron James? Like this is the number one priority? Is that kind of how you view this situation?
Atencio: Yeah, you know, I’ve always said as a fan, and that’s how I view this. As a fan, if he goes and fights the best in the world, then he has my blessing. I think that’s what this is all about, this industry. It’s about fighting the best in the world. If the UFC does what they do, that’s fine. They don’t let their fighters fight elsewhere, but I do. I don’t personally want to hold these guys back or anything, so if he leaves and he goes and fights for another organization, then by all means, he’s proven that he’s the best fighter in the world. I’m not really worried about it. If we get Fedor through 2012, then wonderful. If we have the best fighter in the world, then him and Brock will never fight. If we don’t have him through 2012, then the UFC will. We’re willing to work with the UFC. It’s them that are not willing to work with us.
FightLine.com: When you say we’re willing to work with the UFC, what exactly does that mean? Are you saying you’re willing to co-promote an event?
Atencio: That’s exactly what it means. They’re just not wiling to do that. Do I blame them? No. Do I understand? Not really. It ultimately is what it is. They’re not willing to co-promote, and they’ve made that apparent, and we are.
FightLine.com: What are your thoughts about promoting a pay-per-view card without Fedor?
Atencio: Absolutely, I’ve said that before, that’s ultimately the goal. We can’t rely on one person to run the whole organization. We have to ultimately build up other stars. And if it works out, great, and if it doesn’t, we may not be here long, but I don’t see it not working out. We’ve got a stable of great fighters.
FightLine.com: What were your thoughts of UFC 100? It’s obviously a historic event for the sport of MMA.
Atencio: You know, I thought UFC 100 was great. I think Georges St-Pierre came out and he proved why he’s one of the best fighters in the world. I think Brock Lesnar came out and he beat Frank Mir. I think there’s a big advantage there with the weight, and the fact that he’s a very accomplished wrestler. There should be a super heavyweight division [in the UFC]. You know, but I’m not saying he’s bad. I think there was good and bad, and I watched it. And I always watch the UFC’s. I’ve always said I watched them. I can’t always watch all of them, but I see as many as I can.
FightLine.com: What were you thoughts on Brock Lesnar’s post-fight antics and how would you handle one of your fighters if they did what Brock Lesnar did after the fight?
Atencio: You know, I think the way Dana White handled it is probably not different then I would handle. I think it was uncalled for . . . I think that to bash a lead sponsor, and um, act the way he was, I’m not a big fan it. But, it’s not my organization, so it’s not my place to say what should be done, or how I would handle it. I think Mr. White handled it in my opinion the appropriate way.
FightLine.com: Affliction: Trilogy is at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA on August 1st and you have a very stacked card, even on the undercard, which will air on HDNet. You were able to get Takanori Gomi. How do you feel like this card stacks up against your other cards? What are you most looking forward to most?
Atencio: Yeah, I think this is our best card to date, and I am excited about that night as a whole. I think every single fight once again is going to be great, you know, and I’m looking forward to a lot of good match-ups. I’m looking forward to Lauzon. I’m looking forward to Paul Buentello. I’m looking forward to every single fight and the main event with Josh Barnett and Fedor. I can’t say enough good things about the match-ups. It’s just a great, great card!
FightLine.com: I want to wrap up and talk about you a little bit. Talk me a little about your mind set Tom, and your mentality. What’s the difference, just as a successful business executive between your mentality, and how you approach life on a day to day basis vs. many people that you have watch come and go?
Atencio: You know, I don’t think I’m different then any different executive that works hard. You work hard, you put your time in. You figure out what to do, right or wrong, and it’s just every day, you know, and not to mention doing something that you love. If you’re doing something that you love, its not a job anymore. It’s not work, so you look forward to going through it every day. I don’t think I’m any different. I think I have a great partnership with the guys that I’m partnered with, and that’s it. I think, we all work together really well, and we all do each job separately, but as a whole, we come together, and I think that’s what makes us so successful.
FightLine.com: Anything else you’d like to let our viewers know?
Atencio: Watch the fight! Let everyone know about the fight. Let everyone know that you see that there’s another organization that brings a lot of great fighters, a lot of international fighters to make an exciting event, top to bottom. Also, you can watch the undercard on HDNet. I’m a big fan of watching the undercard. I think that’s a huge advantage, to be able to watch the whole event from beginning to end.
FightLine.com: Thanks for your time, best of luck and continued success to you!
You can listen to our complete interview with Tom Atencio below: