On Monday, the World Series of Fighting issued a very public challenge to Bellator. The challenge was in the form of a promotion vs. promotion PPV which would pit some of the biggest stars from each against one another. Notable Bellator champions such as Vitaly Minakov, Alexander Shlemenko and Atilla Vegh appeared on the mock fight card made up by the WSOF while they have just two champions in their entire roster so far.
The PPV card would feature ten bouts with the main event being a ‘Superfight’ between Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Tyrone Spong
The challenge was made on the MMA Hour as the executive VP and WSOF match maker Ali Abdel-Aziz called WSOF the number two promotion in the world behind the UFC. Bellator has long been considered the closest competitor to the UFC once Strikeforce was swallowed by the promotion and has been slowly growing a reliable fan base and besides it’s Fightmaster series, has brought in some impressive numbers through its ninth season.
According to Abdel-Aziz’s Twitter account, the challenge was real and a cross-promotion PPV may be the only way that either of these companies breaks in to that market. Bellator’s previous attempt wasn’t only mocked for having a main event which featured two ex-UFC fighters who were past their prime, but it hinged entirely on that fight which was cancelled due to a last-minute injury. The UFC has often had main events fall off the map yet those PPV’s still bring in better numbers than what was projected for the Bellator PPV.
The thing with this challenge is, whether or not Bellator accepts the World Series of Fighting has already won.
The first perspective is revealed if Bellator accepts. Then the card goes on with the fights (barring injury/fighter disputes) that were made up on the mock fight card. This ‘winner takes all’ talk means little as they aren’t fighting for pink slips on fighter’s careers, and win or lose, the WSOF can go home knowing that they drew Bellator out with their challenge and maybe got some wins over their rival promotion to set them back a peg or two.
If Bellator publicly declines the challenge, then the WSOF has the leverage as the promotion who had the courage to place their fighters in the line of fire against their promotional counterparts while Bellator decided to shy away from the confrontation even though they claim to have some of the best fighters in the world in certain divisions.
The third view on this deal could be Bellator never replying at all. This would be the worst case scenario for Bellator who then gives WSOF the chance to label them however they choose while holding their fighters as winners who Bellator didn’t feel comfortable to match up against. This may seem like Bellator’s way out if they don’t see the challenge as legitimate, but the only way to make it out of this one is to accept the challenge. Bellator should show WSOF and hey, even the UFC, that they aren’t scared to make big jumps and take a risk to make fans happy by putting on fights that not only make sense, but ones that make hardcore fans salivate just to be able to watch, regardless of the fights relevancy.
A break in to the PPV market would certainly come for Bellator as well. They could have the opportunity to fund half of, or even less, of the PPV given the deal they work out with the WSOF and figure out what fans want. Maybe we don’t only see one of these between the two promotions.
While SciFighting still waits from confirmation from either promotion on Bellator’s plans, we have an inside word that publicity for this challenge has been outstanding for at least one company so either way, it wasn’t a total loss for either.
Here is the fight card mock up from WSOF:
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