The dust has officially settled on the conflagration that was World Series of Fighting 9, which took place last night in Las Vegas and aired on the NBCSports channel. And though the #3 MMA organization in the world offered up a good bit of beatings and bloodshed – most of which came at the hands of a trio of UFC veterans – the event ultimately highlighted a serious flaw in the promotion. Namely, that yeah, there were good fights… but so what?
Thus far, WSOF has been a great place for Octagon refugees to kill people. Which is all well and good, yet it ignores one of the most basic tenets of fight promotion: the need to build up prospects.
The problem is evident in the WSOF’s star roster. Their lightweight champ is an unknown, even after winning their belt. Their top lightweight contender, Nick Newell, is the lone breakout fighter in that division, and really, that’s because of what Newell has overcome to get where he is, not because of anything WSOF has done for him.
Then there’s the case of their bantamweight champ, Marlon Moraes. Yes, he’s a dominant, deadly fighter who deserves his slot at the top, and he’s been groomed and grown as a prospect in the WSOF cage nicely. But there is no one under contract with the organization who can come close to even giving him a hard time. If you want to see the best bantamweights in the world, you need to look at the UFC or Bellator’s ranks – something Moraes is going to have to do if he’s to be sufficiently challenged. Otherwise, WSOF’s thin 135-pound roster means we’ll see more brutal squash matches like we did last night.
Obviously, the name recognition attached to Yushin Okami, Rousimar Palhares and Josh Burkman is enough to make fans want to tune in to watch them. However, at some point the value of seeing them destroy B-level fighters diminishes, and when that happens, seeing them – or any other UFC castoff in the WSOF cage – becomes more a joke than entertainment. They need to be challenged, and for them to be challenged, they need opponents who are worthy and who’ve been built up.
The UFC builds up their prospects. Bellator builds up their prospects. The WSOF, on the other hand, sends their prospects off to certain doom. That needs to change if they going to last. Otherwise, the reaction of fans to WSOF events won’t be, “Wow, last night’s show was awesome!” It will be, “There was a WSOF last night – so what?”