World Series of Fighting (WSOF) Canada will hold an event this evening (February 21, 2014) from the Edmonton Expo Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, and most mixed martial arts (MMA) fans have no idea.
The 12-fight card is headlined by Tristar Gym member and former Bellator fighter Ryan Ford (21-4) in a bout against Joel Powell (7-3) for the WSOF Canada welterweight title. The event also features The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 16 alum Michael Hill (6-2) and five-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) vet Tim Hague (15-8).
In a press release, the promotion billed the card as "arguably the deepest Canadian MMA event in history," yet its network partner NBC Sports Network has made the decision to air the fixture on tape-delay seven days later.
WSOF Canada's Chief Operating Officer Darren Owen explained the network's choice to MMAmania.com earlier this week.
"With NBC carrying the Olympics there just wasn't an available time slot for tomorrow nights fights. I completely understand and am fully supporting all of the Canadian athletes in Sochi. I'm very happy that NBC Sports will be airing the first WSOF Canada event a week later and our Canadian fighters will be getting the exposure that they will receive. To be able to showcase our fighters has always been our biggest priority."
While this rationale would be entirely understandable if the Olympic games were airing on NBC Sports Network in Canada or the United States at the time slot of the main card at 9 p.m. ET, the station has instead chosen to show a two-hour block of the recorded series entitled "NHL Top 10."
It's worth noting that the Olympics will be airing on NBC's flagship network in prime time on Friday.
Airing the event on tape-delay won't necessarily give the fighters a significant jump in exposure, either, being that the results will be widely available for a week's time.
The decision by NBC Sports Network to not air the event live may lend some insight as to how far away WSOF is from getting the maximum amount of eyeballs and receiving a slot on the aforementioned marquee channel.
Time will tell.