The World Series of Fighting is the consensus #4 organization in MMA, but their role in MMA may be greater than both One FC and Bellator.
While their success (if any) has been minimal thus far, their utilities make them far greater than any other MMA promotion outside the UFC.
While some may see this as nothing more than Dana knocking on Bellator, it may be more than just a ploy in Dana and Bjorn Rebeny’s pissing match.
In fact, the UFC wants the WSOF to succeed; here are a few reasons why:
1: Sig Rogich(WSOF CEO): For those of you who are unaware, the WSOF is a Las Vegas based promotion, right in the UFC’s backyard, so it’s not surprising that the UFC and WSOF have a few ties, with the most importantly being CEO Sig Rogich.
Rogich is a major player in the Republican party, especially in Nevada. In his illustrious career he has served as a senior media consultants for US Presidents Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush, as well as serving as the senior campaign consultants for Nevada Governor’s Kenny Guinn and Jim Gibbons.
Amongst his political career, Rogich is also a giant in Las Vegas marketing and advertising having found R&R Partners, Nevada’s largest advertising firm. He has also been heavily successful in many other ventures and has many connections in Las Vegas, including UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.
Rogich is very close with Fertitta, as well as Marc Ratner, all three of which formally served as chairmen for NSAC.
Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion puts their relationship into better perspective here.
"Rogich used to be the man at the Nevada State Athletic Commission during Marc Ratner’s tenure. He brings all the pols to the big fights in Vegas still. It is Lorenzo, Rogich, Ratner, and the AG’s office protecting Keith Kizer politically."
"Rogich is super-close to the Fertitta empire. He does nothing to piss them off. Hence, whatever moves he makes are basically blessed (officially or not) by UFC."
Through Dana’s friendly statements, Rogich’s direct ties to the Fertitta’s, and WSOF’s methods of business it’s pretty obvious Rogich has the Fertitta’s backing; so what does this mean?
Does Rogich want to partner with the UFC, using WSOF as a WEC-like promotion? Signs are pointing to yes in my opinion, it’s clear with Rogich backing WSOF that he wants a piece of the MMA action, and I think with his mind there’s a good chance that the WSOF can succeed in being the key feeder league for the UFC.
2: WSOF bidding for the UFC
As previously alluded to, I think the WSOF is trying to get into the UFC’s good graces for an eventual partnership. One way they are doing this is by outbidding other competitors for talent.
WSOF has been able to make some big signing, especially due to the UFC and Bellator’s cold war like battle going on.
Bellator has stated they would not sign any UFC castoffs…goes on to sign Rampage Jackson, Tito Ortiz, and Chiek Kongo, but ughh anyway… in the midst of this Bellator let some very talented fighters slide past including Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch. Also out of political pretenses they passed on Rousimar Palhares, but regardless WSOF is clearly gaining from this on-going charade.
Right now, Ben Askren is a free agent after Bellator oddly released him to prove some kind of point to the UFC. With the UFC surprisingly not interested, it leaves Askren with two options; WSOF or ONE FC.
Askren as of yesterday has announced that he will be joining Evolve MMA, which has created the ONE FC rumors, but I find it unlikely that they are interested in Askren’s talent due to their organizational goals
So this basically leaves the WSOF as Askren's only option .
If the WSOF is able to get Ben, it will be a huge boost to their roster and also benefit Askren in that they have a few mildly successful welterweights under their banner.
WSOF is getting talented fighters basically bidding with themselves it seems. Its perfect strategy by the WSOF, and really bad on Bellator’s part. UFC is defiantly gaining by Bellator passing on top level talent, and may be supplying their future partners in the process; it’s a win-win.
With talented fighters under their belts, Rogich’s business skills, and the NBC Sports platform WSOF could soon become that marketable WEC-like promotion the sport has been missing.
3: Feeder League Status:
Something that always bothered me about Bellator has been their non-contempt of being #2 or being a feeder league to the UFC. The UFC is the #1 MMA promotion in the world, nobody can compete with their fighters, finances, or popularity, and this isn’t going to change unless something unimaginable takes place.
Oddly and stupidly Bellator has attempted to compete with the UFC as of late. It all started with their move to Spike TV, ever since the organization has had an annoying level of arrogance. It’s pretty clear Bellator is Viacom’s half-ass way of trying to get back at the UFC for leaving Spike a few years ago.
Aside from being annoying, it also has become hilarious; especially the infamous Tito Ortiz vs Rampage Jackson PPV…or lack thereof.
The WSOF on the other hand hasn’t really showed any signs that they want to avoid the feeder league status. While they don’t exactly have an abundance of young talent, they currently serve as a kind of rebuilding structure for veterans; much like the WEC.
For these reasons, I would not be surprised at all if the UFC buys the WSOF in the near future. While they aren’t yet talent rich, they could serve as a more important role in MMA as they continue to progress.
Also take in these unique utilities:
- Rogich serving as CEO: Obviously a huge figure with a brilliant business mind will lead to some nice benefits.
- NBC Sports platform: Okay NBC Sports isn’t exactly ESPN, but it is home to the NHL and the #3 sports network on cable in the US. Also take into account that Russell Peltz’s boxing promotion Main Events has been able to broadcast events on the mothership NBC, perhaps if WSOF expands talent wise the same could happen.
Also the WSOF has recently signed a 3-year deal with NBC Sports
- Acquisition of AFC: Recently the WSOF acquired the Aggression Fighting Championship, an organization based out of Canada. This acquisition is important for two reasons, one being it shows they’re willing to spend money, and the other being it’s internationally expanding beyond just the United States market.
-WSOF Japan: The WSOF also partnered with Pancrease, creating WSOF Japan. This not only puts them in the Japanese market, but furthers their expansion.
WSOF New Zealand & Austrailia are also in the works according to reports.
So with all of this said, is the WSOF the next WEC? What’s your thoughts on the rising promotion?