Back in the early days of MMA, a small clothing company in Signal Hill, California, rose up to become a big name in the hardcore fashion genre. By sponsoring big names in UFC, like Georges St. Pierre, Randy Couture, and Quinton Jackson, as well as heavy hitters from other hardcore arenas, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Zab Judah, Affliction was able to show that to emulate your MMA or heavy weight boxing idols, you had to wear the same clothes they were wearing. Affliction became the leader in the “Wear your attitude” fashion field.
Started up in 2005 by Tom Atencio, Todd Beard, Eric Foss, and Clifton Chason, the brand was conceived by fighters for fighters, which helped lead to the success of Affliction, and some of the offshoot companies that would develop through the business model Affliction had created. Sinful, a line of Affliction clothing for women is characterized by the religious expressions, like angels or angel wings, or other symbolic imagery – doves, burning hearts, roses, and skulls are also commonly found on Sinful outfits. Xtreme Couture, a division of Affliction developed by Randy Couture and his wife Kim Couture in 2007, carries UFC clothing, as well as fitness supplements, and MMA training facilities.
It wouldn’t be MMA without drama, and the Affliction brand has had its share. In late 2008, co-owner Todd Beard opted to resign after receiving a restraining order from Randy Couture’s wife. The restraining order became necessary after Beard carried out a “campaign of terror” against the Couture’s because they asked him to provide a thorough accounting of the profits. On the Canadian front, night clubs in Vancouver and Victoria, BC, as well as notorious night club Cowboy’s in Calgary, decided to bar patrons wearing Affliction or Ed Hardy clothing from entering the premises, claiming that the clothing was a gang related uniform. Affliction responded by claiming no affiliation with gangs, and that the clothing is simply an “upscale men’s boutique brand.”
After a few years of sponsoring UFC fighters, the Affliction team had a difference of opinions over business practices with the UFC management. Affliction decided to become MMA promoters, and formed the company Affliction Entertainment, which cost them a lucrative spot in the UFC ring. After two successful co-promoted events in 2008 and 2009, Affliction got hit with a curve ball with less than 60 hours before their next event. One of the fighters in the main event was rumored to have positively tested for steroids, and would not be permitted to fight in the event. In what was a probably humbling experience, the Affliction team decided to take up the UFC’s previous offer of ad space on the Octagon and the UFC fighters, providing they ceased all fight promoting operations.
UFC president Dana White said in a statement “We are excited about the return of Affliction to the UFC and look forward to seeing our fighters once again walk into the octagon wearing the Affliction brands. Affliction is an innovator of mixing fashion with this sport, and we are looking forward to working together to promote the sport.”