It wouldn't exactly be a stretch to say that World Series of Fighting (WSOF) has been struggling to keep the lights on in recent months (and/or years). Following the departures of champions Marlon Moraes and David Branch to the UFC and the free agent market, respectfully, the Ray Sefo-led promotion has hit dire straights, cancelling two events last year and postponing another one to start 2017.
But as the saying goes: sometimes in order to rebuild, you must first destroy. As such, today brings the news that WSOF has closed its doors for good...and immediately reopened them under new promoters and a new name: The Professional Fighters League, which will feature a Bellator-style "seasonal" format among other intriguing updates.
As the press release sent out this morning put it:
The new league will debut in January 2018 with a $10 million prize pool across seven weight classes. The Professional Fighters League purchased the fighting operations and event infrastructure of the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) earlier this year.
Russ Ramsey, Executive Chairman, Professional Fighters League, described the new league as a transformative moment for MMA: "The Professional Fighters League brings a proven sports format that fans love and athletes respect to MMA for the first time. Featuring a regular season, post-season, and championship structure, the launch of the Professional Fighters League continues the evolution of MMA into a professional, mass-market, prime-time sport for a global audience."
According to the release, "Each tournament winner in the seven weight classes will be named the Professional Fighters League season champion and collect a $1 million cash prize. An additional $3 million will be shared between other regular season and playoff competitors."
So basically, someone at the WSOF headquarters (or rather, the "group of area businesspeople and sports titans, headed by the former chair of the DC2024 Summer Olympics bid," as The Washington Post describes the new owners) caught Warrior on HBO late one night and decided (presumably after he had finished crying into his hotel pillow) that it would be a solid enough idea to base an entire MMA promotion around. To which I cannot help but concur because Warrior was f*cking awesome.
But that's not all.
Hoping to clear up any confusion related to the brand switch, Sefo also sent out a letter to the former WSOF's roster, promising "a regular monthly paycheck" and "no less than three scheduled fights per year" for every fighter under the new ownership.
As many of you know, a new ownership group purchased the World Series of Fighting a few months ago with the aim of putting fighters first and evolving the sport of mixed martial arts. Today I am proud and excited to tell you about those changes.
First: our new name. We are announcing the Professional Fighters League. We believe bringing a league format to MMA elevates it so it can proudly sit alongside other professional sports leagues.
Your are all professional fighters and a league will provide increased and equitable financial opportunities.
Starting in January 2018, we will bring a proven sports format to MMA through regular season, playoff, and championship fights. Fighters will compete across seven weight classes until a champion for each is crowned. Our new league will give every fighter an equal opportunity to compete. No politics, no games. Your ability and skill, and wins, and losses in the Decagon on a world stage will determine the champion.
Professional Fighters League will be fighters-first, and has established a three-point promise to fighters in the league.
1. Every fighter will have regular fights, no less than three scheduled per year.
2. Every fighter will receive a regular paycheck each month.
3. Every fighter will have the opportunity to become champion.
I have been a fighter, a world champion, a coach, and a mentor to many of you. Today marks a new milestone in this sport we all love. I am thrilled and honored to launch this new MMA league alongside Carlos Silva and our fantastic staff.
We will be reaching out with more details in the coming months about the upcoming season. I’m looking forward to the debut of the Professional Fighters League in January 2018. May the best fighters win
It's certainly an ambitious plan, if nothing else. The Professional Fighters League is set to launch in January of 2018, so stay tuned for details.
Notable WSOF Alumni:
- Marlon Moraes
- David Branch
- Justin Gaethje
- John Fitch
- Jake Shields
- Rousimar Palhares
- Yushin Okami
- Shawn Jordan
- Lance Palmer