Rumors have been swirling recently that World Series of Fighting would be canceling scheduled events in Denver and Seattle over the next couple of weeks. On Monday, World Series of Fighting confirmed it was making changes by merging the events in an effort to build a super-card for its New Year's Eve event in Madison Square Garden.
"We're going to make Madison Square Garden bigger," WSOF CEO Carlos Silva told SI. "We've made a decision as a company that Madison Square Garden is unequivocally the biggest event for us.”
The canceled events were numbered 34 and 35, while the New York City card is labeled WSOF 36. The Madison Square Garden card will be rebranded WSOF: NYC.
The main events and the co-mains from WSOF 34 and 35 are being moved to the WSOF: NYC card, giving the event three title fights.
“We wanted to bring our biggest and baddest fighters and our champions to [Madison Square Garden],” Silva said. “We’re going to bring the headliners from those [cancelled cards] to make the event even bigger and more spectacular.
Welterweight champion Jon Fitch and former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields were set to fight at WSOF: 34, and will instead fight in Madison Square Garden.
Lightweight champion Justin Gaethje will defend his belt against João Zeferino, while bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes will also defend his belt, but an opponent has yet to be named.
“We absolutely love this New Year’s Eve show, and the exciting thing is that we’re also on NBC,” Silva said, noting earlier fights in the card will air on NBC Sports Network. “It’s a real blockbuster card with respect to the undercard and then the main card on NBC. We absolutely would love to make this [an] annual event.”
Silva added that WSOF was thrilled to be putting on an event of this caliber for fans on free television.
WOSF has called and talked to the parties involved with the cancelled events over the past week to resolve any issues. Currently the WSOF is planning to try to return to both markets in the near future. No dates are currently set, but events are expected in early 2017.
“It really feels like the right thing to do. It’s hard to make noise in New York City... when you’re in major cities you need to put on major events” Silva said. “We really felt like this was the right thing to do, to put on a major event in New York City for us, and we feel really good about it.”
With rumors of event cancellations circling the internet, some questioned the state of WSOF, but Silva was adamant WSOF’s future is bright.
“I think we’ve shown in the last year, if you look at what’s on social, you see a lot of positives about the great fights that Ray [Sefo] and the team put on,” Silva said. “I think we’re in a different place than we were a couple of years ago. There is no reason fans should be worried at all.”