WSOF: The Genius of Letting Phoenix Jones Be Himself Jay Anderson March 21, 2015 Spotlight At WSOF 20, arguably one of the most unique mixed martial artists of all time, in terms of personality, will make his big promotion debut: the “real life superhero” Phoenix Jones. Star of a recent ESPN documentary following his foray into Mixed Martial Arts and his time spent patrolling the streets of Seattle, Jones (real name Ben Fodor) found himself subject of a bidding war between every major promotion after the ESPN piece aired. Bellator MMA offered him a contract. The UFC reportedly wanted him on The Ultimate Fighter. The WSOF, however, wisely offered him a solid deal with one condition: Be Yourself. In fact, as Fodor stated on the MMA Hour recently, they didn’t even ask him to stop patrolling the streets — while other promotions tried to dictate his actions, or even take ownership of the rights to Phoenix Jones. For a fighter likes Jones/Fodor, with a 5-0-1 record as a pro (built off an impressive 16-2 amateur record), image is everything. He is Phoenix Jones. A real life “crime fighter” (he mostly just patrols the streets and helps people out) complete with a full costume, adoring fans, sworn enemies, a dubious police force, and even video-taped combat on the street. His story hit the mainstream in a way that few other upcoming fighters have been lucky enough to experience — but without his alter ego, he’s just another fighter. Any promotion trying to package Jones into something he’s not, or trying to have him tone down his image, would be dropping the ball. When Fodor makes his debut, he needs to walk out in full costume. Of course, it’ll be stripped off before he ever enters the cage, but the selling point of the fighter isn’t Ben Fodor any more than the selling point of Batman is Bruce Wayne. The World Series of Fighting was wise to see this. Bellator has struggled in its transition from the tournament format, but there’s no question that it has attracted a fair amount of attention with its freakshow fights. Now consider that a Phoenix Jones fight could garner just as much attention, but feature a legit up and coming fighter who hasn’t yet hit his ceiling or is on the downside of his career. There is room in the MMA world for spectacle, and this is a good example of that. Of course, Fodor needs to win, and first up will be Emmanuel Walo (7-2-1), but Fodor has a great shot here, and a lot of fans will be rooting for him. For the WSOF, meanwhile, it’s a no-lose situation, and the simplicity of just letting him be himself was nothing short of genius.