Given that WSOF have increasingly become a promotion who’s cards I look forward to and Bellator have gone down in my estimation, I figured it would be interesting to see how they compare when viewed objectively.
So we can tally this up as if it were a championship match, I’ve split the criteria down into five handy categories – resources, roster, reach, credibility and x-factor.
Seconds out, round one…
While WSOF are clearly not short of cash, sponsors, committed and talented staff etc. it’s clear that they are nowhere near what Bellator can command given they can call on the resources of Viacom.
With well over ten times as many events, five years of a head start, a more active schedule and a more established brand, you can hardly doubt the fact that Bellator have a deeper roster, boasting top ten talent in most divisions.
However – what WSOF have built in a year is impressive and their roster continues to improve, snapping up some of the choice ex-UFC talent some good free agents and building up some new talent of their own.
Throw in the fact that Bellator’s roster has been losing top players for a while, either by being poached, dropped via promotional madness or just plain getting pissed off with the company (Hector Lombard, Ben Askren, Cole Konrad, their entire women’s division) and this one isn’t as clear cut as it might once have been.
Bellator have the advantage in depth, but pit the cream of each promotion’s roster against one another and it’s a coin flip…
10-9 Bellator (20-17)
Bellator are on a major TV channel in the US and have some international distribution deals. WSOF are also on a major channel, if not quite as far ranging but crucially, they make their shows available online for free to fans from around the world which Bellator have never done (a week’s tape delay on a channel I usually do my best never to watch? Great job guys…)
10-9 WSOF (29-27, Bellator)
Once upon a time, Bellator’s tournament model would have earned them a solid win here, but of late they have displayed contempt for the format, shortening the tournaments, repeatedly giving big stars as clear a route to a title shot as they can manage and handing out title shots to folks who haven’t won tournaments out of pure expedience and favouritism.
Across the cage, WSOF have rightly fielded accusations of being a ‘low impact’ promotion, subsisting on the fading allure of stars who washed out of bigger promotions.
While there is some truth to that, you have to look at how they’ve booked those stars. Jon Fitch got a tough match on his debut and lost, Andrei Arlovski and Anthony Johnson haven’t exactly been given squash matches (even if it’s sometimes ended up that way) and Jessica Aguilar was given the hardest match that WSOF could provide.
For me, credibility is more about doing what you say you’re going to…
WSOF give you ‘fun fights, building something new’ while Bellator have sold out on their boast ‘where title shots are earned, not given.’
WSOF 10-8 (37-37)
Both promotions interest and excite me. WSOF for the new talent, the almost guaranteed knockouts from journeyman fighters , the redemption stories being acted out by more than a few of their fighters and a sense of it being something different.
Bellator holds my interest for it’s conveyor belt of new talent, and the entertainment level of their established stars.
However this is tainted but the mismatched booking, the way the promotion has sold out it’s USP by demeaning the tournaments and seemingly has no faith in the fighters and format that brought them to the consensus #2 position.
So, in the final reckoning what should on the books have been an easy win for Bellator is a drawn contest, with WSOF’s freshness, openness and fun combining with the sense of Bellator being jaded, corrupt and increasingly uninteresting to pull the upstart promotion level.
In my eyes, that is practically a win for WSOF, and I reckon with a draw in a title match the only thing we can do is have a rematch, say at the end of the Summer?