One of the best things about being around UFC event week is that you never know who you'll run into from the mixed martial arts world.
Ray Sefo, K-1 kickboxing legend and now president of new MMA promotion World Series of Fighting, was in Montreal to help in the corner of UFC 154 competitor and top welterweight Martin Kampmann.
Sefo is a class act and was gracious enough to chat with me about a few things in the MMA world.
Sefo and WSOF are coming off a successful debut show, held on November 3rd in Las Vegas, and I wondered what he thought of the fighters' performances in that show.
Oh, I couldn't praise my fighters enough because they all came and delivered. That night it became a reality. In other words, we had knockouts, we had submissions, we had fights that went the distance, we had controversial decisions. You know it just made it all real, you know what I mean, so I was really pleased with my fighters. I have a lot of respect for them and I thank them for bringing everything on that night.
I wondered if his fighting history gives Sefo an advantage in attracting fighters to fight for his promotion, because they may feel more comfortable and respected compared to a promotion run by a businessman.
That's what I've been told and that's what I'm hearing which is great, because my biggest job is to make sure the fighters are looked after ,and not saying that some of these other guys who never fought haven't done that, but you don't understand the experience or the pressure unless you've done it.
All I can say is that I will do the best I can that the fighters in the WSOF, their needs will be met. Obviously it works both ways just like any other relationship, we'll scratch your back if you scratch ours, you know.
The first WSOF event was a pretty good one, and as Sefo said, it produced a bit of everything for the MMA fan. Was the president able to sit and enjoy it or was he running around dealing with issues when the lights came on?
I was enjoying the show. The great thing about it was, again, I can't thank my team enough because from PR to publishing to the team in the office to production, everybody did their job, and when everybody does their job, I don't have to run around like a crazy maniac.
He laughed, and then added:
We were all really pleased with the outcome of the night.
One of my favorite Canadian fighters, The Score Fighting Series featherweight Chris Horodecki cites Sefo as his favorite fighter of all time. I asked Sefo about the future of a young fighter like Horodecki, who has come under tough times outside the cage and is looking to climb his way back to the top of the sport.
I love Chris. Chris is a great kid. He is a great talent. I think sometimes you gotta take a step back to take ten steps forward. As long as he understands that a little setback is a blessing in disguise, and he's still young, like, so young, yet he has so much experience and I think it's just a matter of time until he bounces back to that top level.
I wish him all the best. Like I said, he's a great kid.
Talking with a fighting legend and class act like Ray Sefo was certainly the highlight of my week.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca UFC. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first hand.