I attended the World Series of Fighting’s event at the Turning Stone Casino on Saturday night and had a great time. As someone who’s been to 7 UFC events and 5 Bellator events, I was pretty eager to see how a WSOF event would compare to the major two promotions in terms of atmosphere and general buzz surrounding the event.
I arrived at the venue at around 4:30 and headed to the bar outside the events center. Not surprisingly, the place was packed because of March Madness but I was able to quickly snag a seat at the bar. Shortly after I arrived, none other than Bas Rutten, the former UFC heavyweight champion who does commentary for the WSOF, took a spot near me at the bar. Of course I took a picture with him, but not before someone else did because I prefer not to bother people while they’re in a restaurant unless it’s pretty clear that they don’t mind. Over the course of the evening I’d also encounter WSOF CEO Ray Sefo and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture in the casino lobby. I don’t get starstruck like I used to when I was younger, but it was pretty cool to see legends of the sport like that up close.
Turning Stone proved to be a perfect venue for an event like the WSOF. It’s a small venue, but it was full at one point during the prelims before it began to empty out over the course of the evening. Really, the only thing that disappointed me over the course of the evening was how many fans in attendance left before the card was over, with maybe about 10% of the fans leaving after Tom Marcellino (of nearby Amsterdam, New York) defeated Bill Jones by unanimous decision. I can understand that if you’re not necessarily a fan of the sport and are there simply to support one of the participants on the card since I always left after my friend’s matches when I’d attend his independent wrestling shows back in the day.
As someone who’s recently jumped on the Andre Harrison bandwagon, I was happy to see him win the promotion’s featherweight title. I think he has a good future in MMA, so I hope to see him progress further. Since it was getting late, unfortunately, several fans seemed to leave either during his fight or right after.
One thing that’s always frustrated me with WSOF events is how late they’re broadcasted for television, and how slow the pacing seems to be. The main card started at 11:00, and I didn’t walk out of the casino’s event center until 1:02am, which isn’t a big deal but I’m used to UFC events where they’re generally over by 12:30am (and when it gets to be late at night, that half hour can make a HUGE difference). That combined with the 4-5 minute commercial breaks in between the end of the fight and the winner of the fight being announced left me a little irritated. But beggars can’t be choosers and I can’t whine about it too much because I had a great time at the event.
Overall, while it obviously lacked the hype and big event feel of a UFC event, to my surprise I found the experience to be pretty close to on par with attending a Bellator event. This was the 13th major MMA event I attended, and I saw the 12th, 13th, and 14th major world title fights of my MMA fan “career” (interestingly enough, I’ve now seen a featherweight championship match in the UFC, Bellator, and the WSOF. Not exactly something to write home about, but I was a little amused by the bizarre fact when I thought about it later).