XFC (Fernando Mucci/Olhar do fã no MMA)Xtreme Fighting Championships: How XFC International Plays into Expansion Plans Dale De Souza April 3, 2014 Spotlight In the world of combat sports, the time eventually comes when one champion in a promotion performs well enough to where they experience trouble finding competition. In most cases, this happens because the champion has dominated their division so thoroughly that there’s nobody left to provide a legitimate threat. However, in other situations, the nature of the problem is different. When promoters find trouble looking for challengers to combat their dominant divisional champion or shift their focus away from the champion altogether, it creates something unique altogether where the champion finds himself unable to face any competition within his or her home promotion. Undefeated XFC lightweight champion Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman fits this scenario. Holtzman, who carries a knack for tough fights and memorable finishes, stands at 6-0 in his professional career, with all six wins coming within the XFC cage. Recently, the undefeated lightweight champion made the first defense of his crown at XFC 26, where he scored a unanimous decision win over Roger Carroll. Now, the XFC has granted Holtzman permission to take a ʺstay-busyʺ fight outside of the promotion, but not entirely because of the way “Hot Sauce” has performed in his six victories as part of the promotion. Instead, the promotion allowed its lightweight champion to compete outside of the promotion because the XFC’s focus is currently in Brazil, where the Florida-based organization has been hard at work with a flurry of XFC International cards—three in the span of less than two months, to be exact, which is exactly half the number of shows as the promotion has averaged on U.S. soil over the past two years and is equal to or greater than the number of U.S.-based shows it hosted per year between 2009 and 2011. The promotion does plan on bringing action to the United States this year and is working on securing a television broadcast deal (its relationship with AXS TV concluded in 2013), so fans could witness Holtzman in action in the XFC cage later this. Right now, however, fans must possess a smartphone, tablet, computer or other device in order to watch XFC International via the official XFC website. Still, this decision to focus on Brazil and let Holtzman battle outside the promotion raises many questions. For one thing, wouldn’t it make more sense for the XFC to utilize Holtzman in its efforts in Brazil? Also, why would the promotion not let a Brazilian challenge for the belt, knowing fully that doing so would only further help the XFC’s expansion efforts? Yes, it would make sense for the XFC to use its American champion in Brazil. Using Holtzman in Brazil helps introduce his name to fans unfamiliar with the roster from the American branch of the XFC. The promotion would, in turn, open more doors for more U.S.-based talent to compete in XFC International, thus increasing the promotion’s exposure on a global scale. The primary reason why the promotion has yet to do this, however, concerns the fact that the U.S. and international branches of the promotion, respectively, represent two entirely separate entities with completely different talent rosters, despite both branches residing under the XFC umbrella. Does the separation of rosters between the XFC and XFC International mean that the promotion can’t pull a talented Brazilian lightweight from out of the international branch and allow them to fight Holtzman, or pull Holtzman onto an XFC International show? No, it does not mean anything of the sort. In fact, the XFC has already allowed for some blending of the talent. Before allowing Holtzman to fight outside of the promotion, the XFC allowed Luis “Sapo” Santos to headline XFCi3 after Santos posted three impressive wins in the U.S. branch of the promotion, and it won’t be long before the same starts happening with other XFC talent. It’s inevitable if the XFC wants to offer the highest quality product. Consider what XFCi has done in just its first three events alone. The series of events has kicked off tournaments in the men’s featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and middleweight divisions, as well as their women’s strawweight division. The XFC’s U.S. incarnation can look to the XFCi tourney winners to supplement its own talent pool and challenge for titles. With the announcement that XFCi4 will feature the semifinals of the XFCi lightweight tournament, Holtzman’s lack of XFC fights could reach a resolution soon. Once the lightweight tournament concludes, the XFC can exercise its ability to pull talent from one roster to bolster the strength of the other, starting with the tournament winner fighting Holtzman in Brazil (or in the United States, if the XFC has a television deal and an event lined up in an adequate amount of time). This helps both sides out because while the XFC gets to introduce American audiences to Brazilian fighters, the XFCi can help mold the country’s future stars while remaining its own entity. Much like Shooto’s various bodies, as well as Jungle Fight, Inka FC and other international promotions, the XFCi will always find a way to showcase undiscovered talent and provide them with a platform on which they can get themselves noticed while developing their talents in front of local crowds that wish to see those talents prosper at the highest level of competition. It seems fitting that something like this would happen in the XFC, long considered a grassroots MMA promotion that helps create the stars that few in the MMA world ever see coming. XFCi looks to fulfill the same purpose for Brazilian MMA, but it should not come as a surprise if the international effort ends up impacting the American scene as well.