What started out as a one-off, see-how-it-goes relationship is now a commitment.
The upstart World Series of Fighting today announced a new three-year partnership with NBC Sports Network, which broadcast its inaugural event this past November.
The first event to be televised under the new agreement will take place March 23, as MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) earlier reported, at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Sources close to the event said a heavyweight bout between ex-UFC champ Andrei Arlovski (19-9) and Anthony Johnson (14-4) is set as the headliner.
The TV deal calls for a minimum of six events, which will air live and stream on NBCSports.com.
"We are thrilled to call NBC Sports Network the home of World Series of Fighting," stated WSOF President Ray Sefo. "This partnership will allow us to build the World Series of Fighting brand of world-class MMA competition before a dedicated national audience of passionate sports fans and place our athletes on the big stage that they deserve."
WSOF struck a one-fight, time-buy deal with NBC Sports Network this past fall, paying for the right to air its first event, which featured Arlovski vs. Devin Cole in its headliner.
Afterward, WSOF officials were optimistic about a continued relationship, but could not say whether the event would propel the promotion to a long-term deal.
Today's announcement brings the answer to that question.
NBC Sports Network is available in over 80 million households and is the cable TV home of the National Hockey League, Summer and Winter Olympics and Major League Soccer, among other sports properties.
Arlovski and Johnson turned in a highlight-reel performances at WSOF's inaugural event. Johnson knocked out Bellator vet D.J. Linderman, while Arlovski stopped Cole. Both bouts ended in the first round.
For Johnson, the win was his fourth straight since he was released from the UFC after missing weight and then losing to Vitor Belfort at UFC 142. Scheduled to compete at 185 pounds, he was advised by doctors to stop shedding pounds due to dehydration and hit the scales at 197.
Johnson then hit the regional circuit, where he first fought at 195 pounds and then made his debut at light heavyweight, where he has stopped his three past opponents.
Arlovski, who won the UFC title in 2005 and was dethroned one year later, has won four of his past five bouts. A no contest against Tim Sylvia, who took his belt, split his wins.
This past December, Arlovski outpointed Mike Hayes at "Fight Nights: Battle of Moscow 9." He has stopped three of his past five opponents following a four-fight skid that led to his exit from the now-defunct Strikeforce.