EXCLUSIVE | Ray Sefo Talks WSOF II, UFC “Outcasts”, and Building a Legitimate MMA Promotion on BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio”

March 11, 2013 1:57 pm by Jake Chastain

Yesterday’s episode of BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio featured one of the most respected men in the MMA world today, “Sugar” Ray Sefo. Sefo, a legendary mixed martial arts fighter, kick boxer, boxer, Muay Thai champion, and now the president of the World Series of Fighting MMA promotion was kind enough to join our team for a segment on the air to discuss the upcoming WSOF event, his busy lifestyle, his fight career, and how he handles being a fight promoter and coach rather than a fighter. Here are highlights from his conversation on last night’s show:

Mr. Sefo discussed his busy schedule now that he is the head honcho of the WSOF, he is still a coach, and a family man as well:

“Since the first show (WSOF I) obviously we had to start getting ready for the second show which is the 23rd of March in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Revel Resort. And aside from that I had Brad Tavarez who just fought in the UFC event in Japan a week and a half ago so we were out there, we came away with a win and we’re happy with that. So, now it’s crunch time now that we’re two weeks away (from WSOF II).”

Sefo went on to explain how he handles such a hectic, busy schedule:

“I’ve always been the person that likes to stay busy and I’ve always stayed active throughout my life. Coaching, competing, training. And the business side…it does keep me busy.”

“I love staying busy and connected with everything I do. Especially the fans and the people that are out there and of course my team.”

Sefo was then asked if becoming a promoter and coach has filled the void or the itch that he usually gets for fighting and if he still feels the need to scrap:

“I actually haven’t retired yet. I’ve been offered a few fights. One was offered to me in Moscow, I think it was late last month but the timing wasn’t right because I was going to Japan with Brad and I think the notice was like three to four weeks so that didn’t work out. Obviously my goal is to focus on everything I do with the guys that I coach, my son, and of course then…I basically want to have seven more fights. I don’t know if that’s going to happen but that is the goal. I want to have seven more fights and then retire from the fight game. I’ve had 93 so the goal now is to reach a hundred and then retire. With that being said its easier said than done. I’m so busy at the moment that I think I will try to put a couple of fights in whether it happens this year, maybe one or two. I’ll wait and see. But I haven’t retired from the game yet.”

Sefo on WSOF and picking up fighters that are released from the UFC and what he looks for in a fighter:

“Our motto is fans and fighters first.”

“These guys are still talents and just because they have lost one or two fights doesn’t mean they’re done. We don’t know what goes on in their personal lives, it means they need someone that has their back and understand that we all go through tribulations in life and the comeback story is always the amazing story and so when I see these guys out there, absolutely, if they suit for what fighting stands for then we’ll pick them up for sure.”

On understanding what fighters go through in each camp/why they might have an “off fight”

“Nobody understands it better than anybody but myself and people that have been in the ring and have done it and still do it.”

On biggest lesson learned so far in being president of the WSOF:

“Don’t listen to criticism. Focus on the positives, understand the fighters on our roster and within our team..I mean, we’re talking about the business side of things. You can’t please everybody. That’s the bottom line. People are gonna love us and people are gonna criticize us and I’ve had that throughout my career, you know what I mean? Like I said people are going to love us and hate us. That being said, our goal is to put on fights that the fans want to see, we put on fights that make sense, we put on fights that are exciting and keep moving forward and challenging ourselves to be a better organization each time we come out and put on a show.”

Ray was then asked what the early, original plan for the WSOF was:

“There is a lot of talent out there that don’t have a spot or is looking to perform or showcase their skills on the biggest stage like NBC Sports Network and when we approach these people or contact these fighters and their managers and teams they were all for it. I have friends all over the world in the martial arts name, from boxing to kickboxing to MMA, and when I talk to friends from all over the world everyone is excited about MMA and their telling me that they have these people they want to bring over and these people, so there is talent from all over the world, not just here in the US. When we realized that, that WSOF was going to be our baby, we knew that there was enough talent worldwide to be able to kick this thing off.”

On fans calling fighters UFC castoffs:

“Maybe you should step in the cage and call a fighter that. It’s completely disrespectful. Like I said, no one knows what goes on in their lives as professional fighters, no one in their professional lives other than themselves and their team.”

“You should be slapped up side your head.”

On Promoter/Fighter Relationship and how that leads to promotional success:

“Promoters forget that the fighter is the product. If all f our fighters turned around and walked away WSOF would be absolutely nothing. So the problem is that promoters, whether it be boxing, kickboxing, MMA, they forget that the product and the reason why they are so good is because of the fighters…not the name of their company.”

“This is just like a marriage; this is a relationship between promoters and fighters. We gotta do our part to get them out there and they have to do their part to showcase what they bring to the table. It’s a two way street.”

“If both sides do their job it will work.”

On deal with NBC Sports Network and what to expect in the future:

“We have a minimum of a six-fight deal with NBC Sports. So, you know, we probably wouldn’t look to do anymore than eight to ten but that being said right now we are really looking at June/July and a couple other dates that we’re waiting on to confirm but we already have two other shows set already.”

On high goals for the end of the year:

“I think the goal is to keep challenging ourselves because that is the biggest challenge is making sure we put on the right fights, the exciting fights, for the fans and for the sport. That being said, next year there are already plans for us looking to go to Dubai, looking to go to Israel, looking to go to Brazil. There’s some exciting times and big things happening next year.”

Sefo’s parting words and promotional pitch for next weekend’s WSOF II event:

“WSOF II will be at Atlantic City, NJ at the Revel Resort on the 23rd of March. Don’t miss out, it will be on NBC Sports Network Live.”

For the entire interview be sure to listen here at BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio Show

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