Two years ago June, the UFC made its second and (for now) final stop in Vancouver. The headaches of extra insurance costs, and the difficulties that came with separate event legislation made it so that the city wasn’t a viable option for annual events. While attendance numbers were better than average, as was fan support, the process of bringing professional MMA back into Vancouver has been an uphill climb. Even local promotion Battlefield Fight League, who used to hold pro events in Vancouver have not done so here for over a year. All four of their Vancouver events since May 2012 have been strictly Amateur fights (though there is a mixed event upcoming in Richmond in September.)
Recently, legislation passed nationally that changed some of outdated prizefighting rules to all but legalize professional MMA nationwide, which may make it easier for Battlefield, and even the larger companies to return to Canada. Since UFC 131 in June 2011, the UFC has been to Seattle twice (mostly recently on July 27th,) they took Strikeforce to Portland and Kent, WA and Bellator Fighting Championships is making a surge westward, and will debut in Portland themselves at the end of September. But what of Vancouver? There may be something in the works.
Just a few weeks ago, the Vancouver-based MMASucka reached out on Twitter to World Series of Fighting (WSOF) President Ray Sefo. Rumours had circulated that WSOF had targeted Vancouver as early as the fall. Sefo’s response, while brief, sounded promising. But how promising exactly?
Sefo took a brief hiatus from his position in order to prepare for a fight with Dave Huckaba which went down this past Saturday. He did, however, he take some time to address the rumours in a quick interview with Vancity Buzz.
“MMA as a whole has certainly had some challenges in Vancouver,” started Sefo. “But there’s been a lot of progress made recently, and it seems that all of Canada is hungry for more high-level MMA.”
World Series of Fighting has never been to Canada yet, and regularly, promotions start back east and work their way west. The UFC stepped into Canada through Montreal in 2008, and Bellator’s Canadian cards have all been in Ontario, so it is a bit unusual that the West Coast might be a start point. When being asked about when Vancouver fans could expect to see something come to pass, or whether this city was a gauge for expansion, Sefo expanded on his thoughts a bit more, confirming that Vancouver wasn’t quite a sure thing yet.
“We’re not sure if Vancouver will be the first Canadian city to host a World Series of Fighting event,” admitted Sefo. “So it wouldn’t be fair to say we’re planning on that being a gauge. But we will come to Canada soon. I think we’re going to surprise some people with our reach in the near future, and I look forward to seeing it all come together.”
That reach Sefo refers to is fairly substantial for a company that just held its first card in 2013. They have already started marketing separate cards in Central America, and there’s a possibility a Canadian “series” could come to be in general.
“World Series of Fighting is planning to have events in cities all over Canada, as well as the world,” continued Sefo. “Canada is a great market for MMA. Canadian fans are some of the most passionate in the sport, and we’re looking to put on events in several cities there per year, and Vancouver is on that list.”
Sefo concluded “We don’t have anything to announce just yet, but that will change soon. World Series of Fighting Canada is around the corner, and we will put on world-class cards with fantastic fights for Canadian MMA fans. We won’t disappoint. You can count on that!”
It sounds promising that World Series of Fighting will come to Vancouver sooner or later. However, it appears that the plans for it just haven’t been finalized yet, including whether it will be the full circuit coming here, or simply a brand extension, like WSOF Central America.
World Series of Fighting’s next card is September 14th, headlined by former King of the Cage Lightweight Champion facing former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski.
Photo credit – RaySefo.com