Media Watch: UFC’s Possible Relationship with WSOF
By Jesse Heitz
Seldom does the MMA world feature conspiracy theories, yet it appears that one is definitely brewing. Such a term is not meant to be at all derogatory, nor am I saying that such things are entirely unfounded in our sport. I suspect that nothing could be further from the truth.
In the past week, Zach Arnold of fightopinion.com posted a piece on the possible link between the UFC’s parent company Zuffa and the World Series of Fighting (WSOF). In the article Arnold argued in essence that the WSOF is “in bed” with Zuffa. In the aforementioned article Arnold stated,
“WSOF is a promotion founded by Sig Rogich, Nevada’s top political fixer. A top ally to Senators Harry Reid & John McCain. A top family friend to Marc Ratner (lifelong friend) and Lorenzo Fertitta. Ratner was Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission when Lorenzo was a commission member before buying the UFC. Rogich is the former Chairman of the NSAC. Rogich was the one who was front-and-center at a presser in Washington D.C. to tout the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo brain study for fighters. While attending that presser, John McCain and others were parroting that there isn’t need for federal oversight & regulation of MMA. No Ali Act required, huh?”
Now I get that at least on the surface something might look a bit off regarding the recent happenings between these two supposed rival MMA promotions. Certainly, a wide open corridor between the two companies as far as fighters are concerned may seem a bit fishy, but is it? Have fighters never traversed promotions with regularity, continually seeking the best deal possible? Have fighters never been cut, then returned to their former promotion when they have a career turnaround?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s been an inordinate amount of traffic between these two promotions lately with the likes of Andrei Arlovski, Jon Fitch, Jake Shields, and Melvin Guillard, and moving seamlessly from one to the other. It may very well be that there’s some connection between Rogich, Ratner, and Fertitta, yet none of this necessarily means there’s any professional cooperation going on between them. I fully understand that it’s highly unusual that Ray Sefo, the President of the WSOF, would appear on “The Ultimate Fighter 19” as a striking coach.
Perhaps Zuffa is using WSOF as its “minor leagues” so-to-speak, as it did with its other promotional holdings such as Pride, Strike Force, and the WEC. Yet, if memory serves, Zuffa was quite transparent regarding its other holdings, so I’m not entirely sure why they would stray so off their historical path, particularly given that such a path led them to the popularity and financial promised land.
To be fair, Mr. Arnold may very well be correct, time will certainly tell. However, his recent pieces all cover the UFC, with several produced this very week alleging some form of corruption, or at a minimum, less than honest dealings. If you ask me, we need a bit more evidence before we indict Zuffa on what amounts to MMA racketeering.