World Series of Fighting put their 11th show on national network television earlier this month. The organization's network TV debut was on NBC and featured four bouts.
The main event of the card featured Nick Newell and Justin Gaethje in a battle for the organization's lightweight title. Gaethje dominated the fight and ended it by knockout in the second round to retain his championship.
Also on the card were UFC veterans Jon Fitch and Melvin Guillard.
The question following WSOF's network TV bid is if the company gained any momentum. To answer this, the first thing we must look at are the ratings numbers for the events. If the show performed poorly then we know they have not gained anything.
As Dave Meltzer of MMAFighting.com reports, WSOF 11 did very well for the organization. They set an organization record on NBC Sports Network in June with 365,000 viewers, but the network event had just under one million viewers.
That is a significant leap in viewership, and it put the WSOF brand out in the forefront for just a little bit. However, not everything was bright for the company. Newell's placement in the main event was an interesting move, and it would reveal how the general public would perceived not only the company, but the sport in general.
There were a bevy of social media posts discussing how casual fans and passersby were taking the main event.
I explained that Newell has been really impressive, is legit, etc. But hard to convince people who don't know better that this is "fine"— Brent Brookhouse (@brentbrookhouse) July 5, 2014
All these people in this Sears look horrified. Some soccer mom is demanding I change the channel. #WSOF11— McKinley Noble (@KenTheGreat1) July 5, 2014
There is little doubt that negative views like that will effect the perception of legitimacy of the sport. And quite often perception is reality.
The easiest way to answer the proposed question about WSOF is to ask yourself, "How much press have I seen since the event?"
Don't worry. I'll wait.
Since the event the WSOF has returned to the back of the line. There has been minimal impact within the MMA community. They did not receive prolonged buzz following the event. It was just another show that was not the UFC. The ratings they received may have just been the indirect result of MMA's general growth not directly related to WSOF.
The feeling following WSOF 11 was that it was an positive event for the company, but did not have a big impact. We will know more once they return to NBC Sports Network for their August 9 card in Las Vegas.
If they receive a significant bump from their previous organizational record, we can directly relate that to the success of their July card. However, if they turn in the same low numbers, we will know that this event had little to no effect on their momentum.
WSOF got the eyeballs to their product, but many were turned off by the near-cringeworthy main event. Now, the young MMA promotion has to convert those new viewers into fans. WSOF 12 will see how well they are doing in that regard.