Any time a new promotion pops up out of nowhere into a big TV deal, people pay attention. The latest to do this is the World Series of Fighting, who have signed with NBC Sports (formerly Versus, formerly the Outdoor Life Network) for their debut event in November. So what’s the deal with these guys? Who are they and what are their plans? Let’s take a look.
WSOF President Ray Sefo, a K-1 kickboxing standout who trains and teaches at Xtreme Couture MMA in Las Vegas, said the promotion will debut live Nov. 3 on NBC Sports from the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, with aspirations of holding 8-10 events in the next calendar year.
Las Vegas businessman Sid Rogich, who once held a position in the White House under President George H.W. Bush and is a former chairman for the Nevada State Athletic Commission, was announced as the company’s chief executive officer.
Keith Evans, who’s worked for the UFC and the now defunct International Fight League, will serve as chief of operations. Ali Abdel-Aziz, who manages former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, will share matchmaking duties with Sefo.
While the promotion’s plan to base itself exclusively out of the Planet Hollywood casino in Vegas remains the same, the whole ‘World Series’ part of the World Series of Fighting will take a backseat for the first year while the promotion tries to establish itself. Not a bad idea – Bellator was often gimped by it’s tournament format and unable to put together a lot of big fights between top guys because of the way the brackets ran. Considering a lot of promotions end up out of business before they’d even be able to finish a four event tournament, concentrating on the fundamentals doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
One of those fundamentals is pulling in decent ratings for their first show on NBC Sports. It’s a wait and see deal, meaning NBC will wait and see how the first WSOF event goes and decide from there if they want to pick up more shows. In the meantime, I’m sure there are a lot of other wannabe promoters floating around the periphery trying to steal the deal out from under them. There are only as many major promotions as there are television deals to display them, and I doubt a piece of real estate as good as NBC Sports is gonna go without a fight.
Other fun WSOF facts:
Number of Cage Sides: 10 – even more posts to improve the view!
Announcers: Bas Rutten (ding dang dong!), Michael Schiavello (hey, ‘Goodnight Irene’ is still better than ‘Mama Mia’) and Kurt Angle (ಠ ಠ).
Fighters: Miguel Torres, Josh Burkman, Bobby Lashley, JZ Calvan, Gerald Harris, Gregor Gracie, John Gunderson, and Ronys Torres
Relationship with the UFC: According to Sports Illustrated, “Sefo said WSOF officials have successfully reached out to UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta and President Dana White to pave the way for a smooth co-existence in Las Vegas.” Which is a good thing for WSOF. The government wasn’t investigating the UFC because they’re known for giving their competition helpful tips and backrubs.