Tonight, NBC will be host to its very first primetime television MMA card. The World Series of Fighting has come a long way in just a little over two years, and are realizing their vision for a bright future with their 11th card. The Independence Day weekend has historically been a big one in general for MMA, and this one promises to keep in that tradition.
If you ask president and founder, Ray Sefo how the WSOF came into existence, he'll tell you it was all the result of an interview conducted about 3 years ago. Believe it or not, that interview was with me. You can hear all about it here in this video (don't worry, it's the very first question asked). During the interview, a seed was planted about Ray either taking over the now defunct K-1 promotion, or starting his own in the MMA sector.
Ray and a good friend (Shawn Wright) got together within 48 hours of the interview, and the roots for WSOF began taking hold. They would strike up a deal with Caesar's Entertainment Group and NBC Sports, which was in effect from their very first card and would see the promotion televised on the NBC Sports channel. Now, 10 cards later, they are graduating to the largest platform possible, NBC primetime.
I conducted a brief interview with Sefo yesterday, who answered questions about their first mainstream televised card and if we might see some co-promotion with Bellator in the near future, now that good friend, Scott Coker has taken over the lead with that organization. Here's what he had to say:
I couldn't be any more excited. You know, right out of the gate, we were on NBC Sports Network and now we're on the mother ship of NBC. We're visible in 80 countries around the world, we've signed some great names to the promotion, as well as built the roster with fresh talent, and with all our hard work, we're seeing growth and success. The biggest thing is when we continue to challenge ourselves, we will continue to get better.
In the past, the WSOF brass has offered to co-promote with Bellator in an effort to follow the example that boxing set with unifying titles. Former Bellator president, Bjorn Rebney never even bothered to reply to the request, but now that he has been ousted from the organization, and Sefo's longtime friend, Scott Coker has been named as the president, there's a much better chance of co-promotion becoming a reality.
It is absolutely a possibility. You already know that Scott has been a friend of mine for about 20 years. He did an amazing job with Strikeforce, and it's so good to see him back in the game. Now, the possibilities are endless. Co-promotion is one of the reasons why boxing became so huge. When the individual associations and councils started unifying the titles, exponential growth in the sport was the result. We're definitely open to the possibilities of co-promotion, for sure.
Sefo expressed great satisfaction with their current promotional deal with NBC, stating;
We have a great relationship with NBC. Our contract has been renewed until 2017, and they're paying us some good money. Our team is looking to put on a show every month, and we feel that's a good number. As a fan, I want to be hungry to see fights, to look forward to and anticipate fight cards. We feel that a fight a month is more than enough to keep people interested in our product and it also allows us to put on quality events. We're very excited about our partnership with NBC, and I couldn't be any happier with where things are right now.
WSOF 11 kicks off at 4 PM EST in Daytona, Florida, live on NBC.