This was originally a response to Horselover Fat in this thread, but I decided to make it a fanpost instead because I was yapping on too long for a regular comment. Anyway, here goes:
Now people have talked several times before of breathing new life into SF by sending all of its best male fighters to the UFC while SF itself is re-branded into the premier WMMA league of the world. I'd like to amend that idea a bit by having SF become the premier kickboxing league too. This idea was inspired by Joe Rogan's casual mention in his interview with BE's Stephie Daniels that he told Dana Rogan to consider buying out K-1 when K-1 was in the shitters last year (something that Stephie didn't follow up on more in-depth, ahem.)
So how would this work, and why would it be appealing? Well, the idea's kinda screwed up now that kickboxing seems to be reunited again with the IS and Glory's merger. The original idea would've been for Zuffa to pounce on a fractured, weakened kickboxing world by buying out K-1 so that it possessed half the best fighters in the world, with the other half under Glory.
Still, I think even with the new merger, this evil Zuffa takeover is possible. I can't substantiate this, but I'm willing to bet that if you're not an Aerts/Ghita/Schilt/Hari, you're a poor kickboxer who's cheap to sign. Glory, K-1, and IS all have done lousy shit jobs of developing kickboxing talent. What you get are incredibly top-heavy weight divisions (and really, since K-1 only invested that much in MMA's equivalent of LW and HW, you only have two divisions' worth of fighters) in a sea of nobodies. This shows in the lack of super high-quality fights. Yeah, Ghita's one-handed ass-whupping of Poturak was fun this past weekend, but did anyone really believe Poturak had much of a chance? This was a tune-up fight for Ghita; tune-up fights are unthinkable in MMA because of the talent depth, yet you see them all the time in kickboxing.
A non-top 5 kickboxer couldn't possibly be more expensive than whatever SF is paying Ovince St. Preux or Tyron Woodley. Likewise, we all know that WMMA fighters are cheap as hell. It could be possible for SF to swap out its current roster for kickboxing prospects and WMMA fighters at essentially the same budget level. The Ghitas, Schilts, and Haris, on the other hand, would in the short-term be abandoned to keep having endless tune-up fights until SF manages to make this restructuring more financially profitable, while its own roster of kickboxing prospects becomes better and better. It would look similar to how the WEC didn't own names as big as Dream's and K-1 Hero's BW and FW fighters, but the WEC fighters eventually became superior because the prospect-building was better in their promotion. There's also the added benefit because both WMMA and kickboxing's prospect pools are so shallow at the moment, it's hard to host many events if you specialized in only one or the other. Having SF specialize in both lets WMMA and kickboxing fill in each other's holes, giving you full cards.
This entire time, SF would still be able to host the couple of name fights it can for its main events, like Ronda Rousey vs. whoever, and I dunno, Tyrone Spong vs. Melvin Manhoef under kickboxing rules.
How do the fighters win out from all of this? Well, SF, despite all its bungling, is still a name brand. We've covered in previous threads why a WMMA-focused SF would be great, but I think the reasons also apply to an SF that specializes in kickboxing too. As far as the minor leagues go, SF's well-known. I can't substantiate this, but I'm pretty sure SF has a larger fanbase than It's Showtime and Glory World Series combined, so kickboxers would gain more fame under SF's name. I mean, fucking ay, It's Glory Time is the new #1 kickboxing league in the world that in all likelihood slayed the dying cancer patient that's K-1, yet its live audience is comically small. I've seen bigger, more enthusiastic crowds in fucking pro-gaming, which is about as niche market as you can get. Even assuming K-1 will survive the merger, it's still a shell of itself that has to get fighters from goddamn open workout sessions for its LA event.
As for the how the fans would benefit--maybe I'm biased because I'll forever be an MMA fan first and kickboxing fan second, but I truly think IS and Glory have such shit production that it kills my excitement. K-1 used to have amazing production, but that's back when they had a gigantic budget. Their new shows are on the same 'regional feel' level as IS and Glory shows. This new kickboxing world we inhabit doesn't know how to get new fans into the sport. You have to be a very hardcore kickboxing fan to know why you should be excited about the fights these promotions host. SF's fucked up many times throughout its history, but it still did the best job organizing the best fights it could with its given roster and budget. I think the SF team would know how to sign awesome fights and get people hyped up. Maybe not on the level of the UFC, but damn better than whatever IS/Glory/K-1 is doing.