April 19, 2017
The World Series of Fighting is being repackaged as the Professional Fighters League. The league will begin in January 2018 according to a press release sent out on Wednesday.
The inaugural season will run for 10 months and will feature seven different weight classes. Similar to league play, fighters will compete in three regular season fights with the best records moving to a playoff and then a championship round. There will be $10 million in prize money with $1 million going to each winner of the 7 divisions. The remaining 3 divisions will go to regular season and playoff competitors.
The Washington Post have announced that a group led by several D.C.-area businessman are spearheading the re-launch effort. Russ Ramsey, an investment banker and hedge fund manager along with venture capitalists Donn Davis and Mark Leschly are the co-founders of the Professional Fighters League. Sports franchise owner Ted Leonsis is also an investor. Leonsis owns the Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards. Also, members of the Lerner family who own the Washington Nationals are investors.
There is no current television deal as the NBCSN TV deal expires at the end of 2017 although according to MMA Fighting, talks are underway with several media outlets. MMA Fighting obtained an email to fighters from Ray Sefo stating the change. It also noted that every fighter will have regular fights (no less than 3 per year), they will receive a monthly paycheck and have the opportunity to be champion.
The announcement was a surprise for fighters as none knew of the details of the new venture. Of course, there are still more questions to ask. First, are the fighters now employers? Second, with the mandate that every fighter have at least three fights, how many former WSOF fighters be included on its roster. Third, will fighters receive insurance. Of course, what happens if a fighter is injured and cannot fight the rest of the year. Will they continue to receive a monthly paycheck.
Obviously, the infusion of cash from the investors seems to be the reason for the newfound promises. Of course, the big need is for a media rights distributor that will pay for the content with the hope that it can find key sponsorships to carry it through the inaugural season. We shall see what happens.