World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo: Our Biggest Competitor Is Ourselves
By Michael Hatamoto
World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo has big plans for his upstart MMA promotion, and the next step in that natural progression will take place at WSOF 6 later this month.
WSOF 6 features a welterweight championship main event fight between MMA veteran Josh Burkman and Steve Carl, with a co-main event of Jon Fitch clashing with Marcelo Alfaya.
The WSOF has a unique blend of seasoned veterans mixed with lesser known MMA fighters trying to elevate to the top level of MMA. Since the company has only hosted a handful of events, WSOF executives are building divisions and letting fighters earn title shots.
Sefo has a busy schedule that blends family time, coaching and training, and WSOF promotion in a rather hectic schedule.
“I get up and spend time with my son, drop him off, then head to the gym – I am normally there by 9:00AM or 10:00AM, and spend about two and a half hours there,” Sefo recently told Full Contact Fighter. “I then go to the office and spend my day there, pick up my son, and that’s (typically) how my day is going every day.”
The hectic schedule doesn’t stop Sefo from helping his company evolve – and that means putting himself in competition with the UFC and Bellator. Instead, Sefo has a very distinct roadmap to follow – and is worried only about what he can do to help the WSOF.
“I’ve said this time and time again – where we are today is beyond what we expected in terms of starting the league – this is where we wanted to be and we want to continue building the (WSOF) brand. My philosophy is that the biggest (competitor) is ourselves to put on good fights… continue to give MMA fans the fights they want to see, and we want to build our own champions.”
The UFC has Fox and Fuel TV; Viacom-owned Bellator is on SPIKE TV; and the WSOF has NBC Sports Network as its TV partner. A strong TV partner is critical to building a promotion’s fanbase.
“NBC has been amazing; they are a huge part of WSOF success, they see the potential of the fighters, production of the show… everyone in the office and people are grounded and easy to work with.”
Interestingly, Sefo’s biggest problem could be trying to convince NBC Sports Network to better promote future WSOF fight cards – the broadcast channel seemed to drop the ball with its promotional push to WSOF 5.
Sefo has a very realistic approach to each WSOF production and what to expect as the show continues to develop.
“I think the shows speak for themselves – our fans are happy and pleased with the production, (fight) matchups on the cards – the fans watch on TV and see production is one of the best out there. With that being said, we’re making mistakes from time-to-time, but getting better.”
To wrap up our conversation, Sefo looked ahead to what he would like to see from the WSOF in 2014.
“2014? Again, we take it one event at a time, and we have two events left (in 2013), and we look forward to continuing to grow the brand, put on great fights, and look to go global.”
After speaking with Sefo for only 25 minutes, it’s clear that he oozes passion and dedication to combat sports. It’s refreshing to see a fight promoter looking to host top-level fights and avoid a lot of the personal bickering and venom shared among other combat sports executives. I’ve enjoyed the WSOF cards so far, and look forward to WSOF 6 later this month.