It’s official! After a one night test drive, NBC Sports is making the World Series of Fighting a respectable woman by putting a ring on her finger with a three year broadcast deal.
It was announced Monday that the World Series of Fighting has successfully signed a deal with the NBC Sports Network that will allow the promotion to appear on the network for three years. During these three years the WSOF will hold six events during each of the 12 months. NBC Sports.com will also be a part of the deal as it has been mentioned that the platform will stream MMA events online to viewers.
The first event that is a part of this deal has been announced as WSOF 2 that will come from Atlantic City, New Jersey and involve a number of new and veteran faces of mixed martial arts. Former UFC competitors Andrei Arlovski will face Anthony Johnson in the main event. Tyson Nam will fight Marlon Moraes in the co-main event matchup. Other bouts include a contest between former WEC champion Paulo Filho and Dave Branch, while Josh Burkman will fight Ryan LaFlare.
You read correctly: Andrei Arlovski is fighting Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson. The same Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson that used to fight at welterweight in the UFC. Every time we see him, he goes up another weight class or two. After this it may be off to Japan to try his hand at Sumo fighting.
It’s this kind of booking that shows you the inherent problems small promotions like WSOF face: they have to do some strange stuff to keep the interesting fights rolling out. Rumble could have been a legit talent in the light heavyweight (or middleweight if he stopped eating all of the everything) division – a ranked fighter the promotion could hold up for legitimacy. Instead, he’s in this strange freakshow fight against Andrei Arlovski at heavyweight.
Another problem the WSOF is gonna face: losing their talent to other promotions. Their first show featured heavyweight kickboxing talent Tyrone Spong in his MMA debut. But now there are rumors that Spong is signing with Bellator, which makes a decent amount of sense after they partnered with his kickboxing friends at Glory. Good for Bellator (unless you consider trying to develop a heavyweight division a net loss), bad for the World Series of Fighting.
It should be interesting to see if the new promotion is able to build a decent fan following and media interest. There have already been rumors that they’re spending big wads of cash trying to lock in names that people will care about. Can their business model sustain this? It depends largely on the kind of deal they struck with NBC Sports. They wouldn’t be the first promotion to hang themselves with a shitty broadcast deal for not enough money.