After the mixed bag that was Saturday night, it is pretty clear that the World Series of Fighting needs "something." In the aftermath of WSOF 2, the major sentiment regarding the promotion was the need to balance the few emerging prospects and abundance of UFC castoffs. (Not to mention the Arlovski glove embarrassment) The topic was discussed at length both is Dave Meltzer’s piece and Tristen Critchfield’s Viewpoint.
What the World Series of Fighting needs is a way of differentiating themselves. The promotion needs an identity. Any casual fan that flipped over to the NBC Sports Network Saturday night could have very easily confused the action for the UFC. Maybe that is what they are going for or maybe not. But if they hope to establish themselves as a long term player in the fight game, they will need to make some changes.
In order to establish your brand in a market where the top brand is almost synonymous with the sport is a daunting task. Bellator has made a valid attempt to do so but creating what they term to be "the toughest tournament in sports." WSOF needs to think outside the box. Below are a few ideas that could help to develop the identity of the World Series of Fighting.
- Fighter standings/rankings based on record – Set up standings similar to the 4 major sports where fighters are ranked based on their record in the promotion. It could help create a clear understanding of rankings and matchups based on those standings. Granted, it might be difficult to do right away based on the fact the promotion has only had two shows.
- Fan voted matchups – A very easy, different way to draw attention to the promotion. Fans can vote online for what matchups they want to see for an entire main card. If it works, and that could be the WSOF’s tactic. Dana White always says the UFC puts on the fights that the fans want, but the WSOF could actually do that.
- One night, four man tournaments – The strategy has been done before but it could be a way create some buzz for the promotion. The idea of "winning the World Series of Fighting" could prove to be a solid strategy.
- Include jujitsu and kickboxing matchups or tournaments – This idea is the least likeliest to occur but bear with me. The roster of fighters for the WSOF is not very deep; some may call it shallow even. Events such as the World Series of Poker include various types of poker. So why not include other types of fighting? It will deepen the promotion’s roster, create a different type of event and possible even educate MMA fans on different aspects of fighting.
Any or all of these changes depend upon the willingness of Ray Sefo and the other WSOF executives to take risks. Decisions made in the coming months could prove telling whether the World Series of Fighting goes by the wayside like the Afflictions and IFLs of the world or if they can turn themselves into a viable alternative in the fight game.
By Tyler Keane