World Series of Fighting will produce its third show next weekend with a main event featuring former UFC welterweight title contender Jon Fitch against Josh Burkman. But as great as the matchup seems to be on paper, the two fighters will not be competing for a title.
Many wondered if the marquee fight would introduce the first-ever World Series of Fighting title, but the promotion opted to go in another direction instead.
Fitch and Burkman will still battle, and it could possibly be looked at as a de facto No. 1 contender's fight, but to hear World Series of Fighting president Ray Sefo tell the story, it was just too early to introduce a belt into the mix.
"At one point it was in discussion, we talked about it. But when we really sat back and this is only our third event, it feels like we've been out here for 10 years, because of the love and support we've gotten from the fans and the media, but realistically this is only our third event," Sefo told Bleacher Report on Wednesday. "So we wanted to have a little more depth in terms of the overall organization. Trust me, this would have been a perfect fight to have our first title fight, but we didn't want to look like this league that just came out, had two events and then had a title fight."
The company will start introducing titles before the end of 2013, starting with the upcoming middleweight tournament kicking off on August 10 in Ontario, Calif. The four-man tournament was the brain child of World Series of Fighting matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz, with Sefo and an unnamed third partner only referred to as Mr. X playing a role in making the tournament happen.
"It's very exciting for our guys but also exciting for World Series of Fighting," Sefo said. "The tournament format scenario, that was something our matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz came up with that idea, we sat down and talked about and thought it was a great idea."
The four fighters involved will be David Branch, Elvis Mutapcic, Danillo Villefort and Jesse Taylor.
While that tournament kicks off in August, the next belt that could be introduced is in the bantamweight division. World Series of Fighting houses one of the top 135-pound fighters in the world in Brazilian Marlon Moraes.
After he picked up wins over former WEC champion Miguel Torres and highly touted bantamweight Tyson Nam, it would have been easy to place Moraes into a title fight for his next bout, which is tentatively scheduled for August, but Sefo says the plan is have at least one more fight and then introduce a 135-pound title.
"We have Marlon Moraes who has come in his last two outings with World Series of Fighting and just looked amazing. First taking on Miguel Torres, who is a former champion, and then taking on Tyson Nam after he knocked out the Bellator champion. Marlon Moraes made it look so easy. We really feel that he's definitely in that line deserving of a title shot," Sefo stated. "I think he might be fighting again in August and then we'll look to put a title fight on maybe in October. We may end up crowning two or three champions that night."
The August card will also feature the return of multi-time kickboxing champion Tyrone Spong and a host of other World Series of Fighting veterans.
Beyond that show, which will showcase the opening rounds of the middleweight title tournament, Sefo doesn't want to commit to the titles that will see the light of day by the end of 2013.
The key, according to Sefo, is to make sure when World Series of Fighting introduces a title that it means something in the bigger landscape of MMA. He doesn't want it to be just another gold belt that some promotion is handing out.
"We'll be looking before the end of the year to crown a couple of guys," Sefo stated. "We want guys to feel like they're worthy of fighting for that belt. Not only that but to feel like it means something to them."
There are no hard and fast rules, however, for how World Series of Fighting will govern its first title fights. If Moraes wins his next bout, he will likely move on to fight for the first bantamweight belt, but beyond that, nothing is set in stone.
"We're an organization that just flows," Sefo said. "If it makes sense for us, we'll make it happen."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.