The World Series of Fighting has become more than just another second-tier or sideshow promotion, a category where other organizations land after starting with high expectations and falling short. The ownership at WSOF headquarters has built a solid core of recognizable fighters to fit what they want, and it has proved to be a successful formula. The proof is in the ratings of the promotion’s ninth event, which was the second-highest rated card in the WSOF’s short history.

The fan base is growing as quickly as champions are being crowned, and the promotion is now in the process of building a well-structured set of women’s divisions, an area that can make or break a promotion.

The WSOF has already crossed off steps one and two in compiling a roster of female talent. First, the promotion signed one of the top fighters in the world in Jessica Aguilar. It was very important for the promotion to be able to snag a free agent of Aguilar’s caliber to make mixed martial arts fans turn their heads and take notice. Second, the WSOF immediately inserted her into a strawweight championship bout, giving her a very winnable, yet legitimate, fight in which to showcase her abilities and dominance.

As for step three, it could take a while to place a checkmark in that box on the notepad. Why? Well, because step three involves bringing in talented fighters and not just a bunch of women making their professional debuts. The WSOF isn’t a regional promotion. Its brand stretches across the globe, and it shouldn’t have to settle for rookies.

There lies the dilemma, though. With the UFC now stacking its roster with women in the bantamweight and strawweight divisions (and the expected side effect of featherweights, flyweights and atomweights making the move to the 135-pound and 115-pound weight classes for their own shot at the UFC), plus a plethora of top names under contract with all-female organization Invicta Fighting Championships, will the WSOF be able to compile enough quality fighters to create a relevant set of women’s divisions?

The promotion is off to a fairly good start. It has inked deals with Ashlee Evans-Smith and Emi Fujino, a pair of established fighters. They join Alida Gray, who was defeated by Aguilar in the first women’s bout inside the WSOF cage, and Aguilar on the roster. Evans-Smith, Fujino and Gray are all logical signings capable of putting on good fights, but they just don’t compare to Aguilar in terms of talent. People love watching fights no matter who is in the cage, but if the WSOF plans on feeding the champ low-caliber names, the promotion’s hopes for the division will come crashing down.

Just ask Bellator, which made a run at gathering female fighters, only to let go of talented women, including Aguilar, when it couldn’t book compelling female fights at a consistent rate. For Aguilar’s sake, hopefully she won’t have to go down a road like that again. With Bellator focusing heavily on tournament bouts, it was difficult for the brand to keep the women active. This is where the WSOF will have to do a better job, and it should be able to now that it has established a champion.

In forming its strategy for its women’s divisions, the WSOF can also look to the XFC. The Florida-based promotion has tried to become one of the top organizations in the world, but it has yet to meet that lofty goal. Credit the promotion for going after female fighters and putting them in featured main-card fights, but, really, who actually knew who those fighters were until the night of the event? Furthermore, the XFC has crowned women’s champions, but the promotion has failed to line up title challengers. Where is the promotion now? Well, it’s seeking a new television deal after its broadcast partnership with AXS TV came to an end. For now, the promotion is relying on an online streaming service to broadcast its events and it has turned its focus to international shows. There are glimmers of hope for the XFC’s women’s divisions in the form of some intriguing bouts on its first three international cards, but the promotion has yet to bring everything together and throw its champs back in the mix. The WSOF could learn some lessons from the XFC’s approach, as well as the approach Bellator took to its women’s divisions.

The organization has clearly set the bar high according to its website, which lists all five women’s divisions on a dropdown menu. However, a quick browse through those sections reveals only three names currently listed. The process of building rosters for these divisions could take quite some time, but it’s an effort the promotion must undertake if it is truly committed to the female side of the sport.

The WSOF has a star in Aguilar. Now, it’s all about building around her to give her quality title challengers and make fights fans want to see. With more and more of the top females finding a home with the UFC and its upcoming strawweight season of The Ultimate Fighter and many of the world’s other top prospects flocking to Invicta, it’s certainly not going to be easy. However, it is still possible for the WSOF to succeed.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that Aguilar could end up experiencing a case of déjà vu.

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.