Despite the expected growing pains, World Series of Fighting (WSOF) has managed to stage 15 events since their promotional debut in November 2012, signing a television deal with major network NBC in the process.
Not surprisingly, WSOF President Ray Sefo revealed that the promotion’s nature next step is to advance into the pay-per-view (PPV) market. According to a press release, WSOF will put on their first-ever PPV sometime in the second half of 2015.
Whether they boom or bust, that announcement was to be expected. But the specifics of said PPV were definitely not, as Sefo reported that the fighters would receive a lofty 50% of the PPV revenue (Sherdog):
“Until now, one of the main things holding this sport back from becoming even bigger than it is today has been fighter compensation and the inability of the sport’s top athletes to earn on par with top-level professional athletes in other sports.
If fighters can’t earn a fair share of the money at the top, the fighters lose hope or become disenchanted with the sport, which impacts their commitment to training and preparing properly for title fights. That is about to change. Thanks to this major step we are taking, now fighters will train harder than ever to become a champion, giving the fans some epic championship bouts to enjoy.”
That sounds like a bit of a shot at the UFC and Dana White, who hare heavily criticized for their supposedly low fighter pay and stingy shares of PPV revenue. Sefo does make a great point, however, noting that fighters may become demotivated without a promise of riches for putting their bodies and minds through the extreme rigors of being a professional fighter.
They put much at risk, without much of a promise of reward. Sefo appears focused on trying to correct that tendency in MMA, and it’s hard to deny that fighters will be more motivated to perform with a potentially huge payday at the end of the road.
While it’s a strategy that the UFC will never subscribe to, it is a novel idea for a fledgling promotion that is run by a former fighter.
Sefo, for all his mistakes, at least has that point of view. However, the promotion continues to book themselves opposite the UFC, as they will do for WSOF 15 on November 15, which will be on at the same time as the UFC 180 pay-per-view (PPV) event from Mexico City, which features a Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum heavyweight title fight.
That’s a questionable (at best) booking to be sure, but perhaps Sefo had no say in negotiating with the networks. What he does is sharing the revenue with fighters, and it’s a refreshing stance in a time where the true attractions of the sport struggle to get fairly compensated for their hard work and dedication.