Don't get me wrong. I like WSOF. I do.....ok, I don't. I really don't. I never have. Now, I like some of the fighters who have or still fight for them, and some of the fights they've put on. But as for the "World Series of Fighting" as a promotion, I've never been able to take them seriously.
From the beginning, they've appeared as merely the most recent avatar of the spirit of the WFA/IFL/Affliction/ProElite; all promotions, which had naive initial investors, but made terrible promotional decisions, and blew more cash than June Carter. Their first event was headlined by Andrei Arlovski taking on Devin Cole. Arlovski making it back to the UFC this week is actually awesome, but at the time of this event(and this article, for that matter), he was widely viewed as a shot fighter with a brittle chin, while Devin Cole was a Strikeforce HW that Zuffa declined to retain due to a sexual assault conviction. While this was merely a tasteless and irrelevant fight which suggested promotional incompetence, the second event firmly exposed their incompetence from an organizational standpoint.
This event was nearly cancelled by the NJSAC after the WSOF failed to produce a safe cage which would pass inspection. A second cage had to be flown in at the 11th hour. There were issues with all fighters paper work at the weigh in. As for the fights? The main event featured Arlovski vs former
super heavyweight welterweight Anthony Johnson, at heavyweight. I didn't mind the fight, but I like small doses of freakshow in my MMA. And that is exactly what that fight was at the time, even if Johnson might even be bigger than Arlovski right now. This was also the event where the lack of properly sized gloves lead to Arlovski's famous painted UFC gloves. The time keeper works for the AC, but an error there lead to the main event lingering beyond the legal time, when Arlovski's jaw was broken. That at least wasn't their fault, but it contributed to the overall aura of clusterfuck which permeated the air.
The third event was headlined by cosmic antidraw Jon Fitch, who brought with him the
thousands hundreds of hardcore MMA fans truly angered as his release, The company president fought at the 4th. A fighter got caught taking something by the commission in the locker room, causing the canceling of a tournament at the 5th. Andrei Arlovski headlined everything. Their production appeared amateur and tried too hard. There was always something which made the promotion feel cheap and plastic. Despite their backing and posturing as big deal, it has always felt forced. Ali Abdel Aziz, in his best all black Dana/Bjorn imitation suit, started going on the MMA Hour and cutting these fake ass promotion vs promotion challenges, which were publicity stunts and nothing else. I understand, more than many hardcore fans, that good MMA needs a little bit of kayfabe and drama, but that was pathetic and shallow. Especially when it came out that it was all a preemptive strike before it got out their own network was seeking to replace them with Bellator's prelims. Prelim fights that NBCSports would actually pay for, something they do don't with WSOF apparently. Which is incredible when you look at their ridiculous pay roll, and all of their expansion efforts. This league is so fundamentally built to fail from the bottom up, that it represents an argument against the existence of intelligent design.
Given all this, it is absolutely impossible to take this promotion seriously. They will close. This is all but a certainty. Despite the one speculative rumor about the ties with Zuffa and the illuminati or whatever, the reality is that the end is near for this promotion without NBC stepping up to back it. It is rather obvious given the tone the promotion has taken, and the reports that have surfaced that this promotion's life hinges on NBC's reaction to the ratings of the next events.
With gobs of events from the UFC and an established competitor, it is kind of annoying dealing with yet another spend today gone tomorrow birth and death cycle, quite honestly. Its noisy enough as it is without another promotion occupying space. So what do they do to be heard amongst all this noise? They give Rousimar Palhares a fucking title shot, fresh off a lifetime ban from the UFC for his repeated cranking of submissions after the tap. Not to mention a failed roid test after a vicious KO loss to Hector Lombard. How are they getting a pass for this? Where are all the "pure sport" diatribes about how rewarding unsportsmanlike behavior just because they draw attention will hurt the integrity of MMA? The WSOF wishes to be a high profile blue chip MMA organization, yet what kind of message does that send?
What the fuck is the WSOF even doing at this point?
They made their bed, and now they have to sleep in it. Palhares pulling out of his next fight, reportedly to care for his mother, sent Abdelaziz on the warpath, making threats in the media against his own fighters. Perhaps he feels like because they were so generous with Palhares given his situation, he owes them that fight regardless. But they baked this mudpie, and now they have to eat it. It is incredible to me that some will still believe this promotion cares about the fighters, even after rewarding the dirtiest fighter in the game, only to hold that above his head when his mom needed him.
This isn't to say WSOF hasn't been beneficial in some ways. Josh Burkman and Anthony Johnson both have viable careers thanks primarily to WSOF giving them a chance. They give vets that Bellator doesn't want a semi dignified spotlight and salary. They have put on some fairly decently matched up events. But these things don't necessarily mean they will or should stick around. WSOF doesn't bring enough to the table to justify perpetuating any sort of delusion they're not doomed for failure the near future.
So, can we stop pretending now?