Since starting off last year, the World Series of Fighting Global Championship has quickly established itself in the Asian market as one of the top up and coming promotions in the region.
As a follow-up to events in Hainan, China, and Tokyo, Japan, WSOF-GC will hold its third event on Saturday in Manilla, Philippines, headlined by a world heavyweight title fight and the beginning of the promotion’s four-man tournament to crown its first flyweight champion.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com, WSOF-GC Vice President of Operations Jason Lilly gave his thoughts on the company’s upcoming event, how the promotion has done so far and what’s ahead in the future.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Jason, tell us your thoughts on the heavyweight title fight between Evgeny Erokhin and Richard Odoms, and what it means for WSOF-GC to have this fight headlining the show.
Jason Lilly: Russia’s Evgeny Erokhin has been our one mainstay for each of our Global events, headlining all three matches. Fans can see why. He is riding an unprecedented nine-fight knockout streak against some big names in the sport like Brett Rogers, Tim Hague, Jeff Monson, and Mike Kyle. I can’t find anyone with that kind of streak; not Chuck Liddell, not Anderson Silva, not Jon Jones.
He was denied our heavyweight title last November, due to an inadvertent eye poke. He followed up that opportunity with a first-round TKO of Bellator veteran Brandon Cash. This will be his toughest test to date in 6’5″ Richard Odoms from United States, who cuts from 300 pounds.
Richard had signed with UFC a few years back, but an injury derailed his debut and he was released. Richard is on a three-fight win streak, two by knockout, and has an incredible ground game for a big man. Philippines fighters rarely get a chance to see elite heavyweights fighting in their country, so this one will surely be a crowd pleaser.
MMAWeekly.com: The other big part of the upcoming July 30 show is the first round of the WSOF-GC 125-pound tournament that includes Marcel Adur, Larry DiGuillio, Yusaku Nakamura and Tim Moore. What do you see for that?
Jason Lilly: The premise for this goes back to our last event in Japan when Japan’s Nakamura defeated United States’ DiGuillio via split-decision. It was a very controversial decision. I don’t like automatically rematching people. Bottom line, DiGuillio lost. He has to earn his shot at Nakamura once more.
This tournament sets up a potential rematch, but both Nakamura and DiGuillio have tough opponents. Nakamura will be taking on the number one flyweight from Australia in Moore, who is 5-1 since dropping to 125 pounds and is the reigning Eternal MMA Flyweight Champion. DiGiuillio faces a Brazilian slugger in Adur, who has won five of his last six fights by knockout.
MMAWeekly.com: Looking back on the start the WSOF-GC has had over these first couple events, what are your overall thoughts on how things have progressed heading into this third event?
Jason Lilly: We have progressed slowly, but intelligently. This isn’t about ego for us. We want to put on good, quality fights and slowly build our following. The thing that sets us apart from other major organizations is that we focus on international match-ups. Our first event in China featured two China vs. China fights on the undercard. Every other match we have had since then has featured country vs. country.
Another big part of our branding is our affiliate program. Since the beginning of the year, we have signed 15 companies in 13 countries as part of the WSOF-GC banner. This gives some of the smaller, and even some of the larger, more recognized companies like DEEP Fighting Championships, the opportunity to co-promote with our name to assist them with getting better production deals and sponsors for their own events. It also helps carve out a path for some of their fighters to compete on larger international shows.
I mentioned above about two of our affiliates, Eternal MMA and DEEP, who has Yuko Kiryu making her Global debut this weekend. UGB-MMA from the Philippines will also be showcasing some of their talent on this event as well.
MMAWeekly.com: Looking forward, what do you see for WSOF-GC in the coming months and year?
Jason Lilly: I think it might be time for us to do a co-branded event, a “champion versus champion” event. I think MMA fans would love to see that and it gives another organization a way to really test their fighters. We have already discussed this concept with DEEP as part of their end-of-the year show.
Moving into 2017, there is something special being planned that, in all honesty, could change the face of MMA. I don’t want to go into too many details, and I don’t want to sound like I am just blowing smoke, but it could certainly cement our position as the number two international brand in the world.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us, Jason. Is there anything you’d like to add in closing?
Jason Lilly: WSOF-GC has an incredible product and we hope fight fans from around the globe will tune in to watch our fights. You can watch previous events at wsofgc.com for just $4.99 a month. This includes affiliate events as well, so there is a LOT of content. If people want to see tomorrow’s stars today, go to WSOFGC.com and access our WSOF-GC fight library.