First details about WFL launch in 2023 revealed

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Former WSOF executive and a mastermind standing behind the league-based WFL promotion, Darren Owen, has talked on the MMA hour about his idea of an organization, that will initiate its activities on February 5th of 2023.  

Owen firmly believes, that despite the historical record of team MMA failures, fans will get behind his new promotion. He’s not trying to change the sport itself, which is based on the rivalry between two men locked inside the cage. This stays unchanged and for him, it’s the most important aspect of the sport. People just want to watch and find out who will win. 

Three WFL events will happen on February 5th, 2023, with a fourth following day after. Those events will serve as an introduction and an entry point into the MMA worldwide markets.  

There will be teams, each comprised of 24 fighters with three competitors in the following weight classes: featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight, women’s flyweight, and women’s bantamweight. Those teams will be divided into four conferences: North America, South America, Europe/Africa, and Asia/Oceania. They will compete against each other in order to gain points within the regular-season events, which will play role in the qualification process into the playoffs, and from there to a post-season final. 

Owen based WFL’s model on that known from other major team sports leagues, NFL, NBA, MLB, and made changes that it would fit into the world of MMA. It will be different from other, previous team-based promotions, IFL for example, by giving more power to the independent team owners, who will share revenues amongst themselves, but only after splitting it 50/50 with their fighters.    

There will, eventually, come a time to divide fighter’s revenue into a salary cap, but in the first year, there will be revenues split due to the fact, that nobody knows how big they’re going to be. Later there will be an option for a fighter to negotiate his salary, or stick to 50 percent split from revenue from the event that he has fought on. 

As far as for today, they’re four owners who have signed with the WFL to take part in its premiere season. Three of them are based in Florida, Texas, and Nevada, so fans can expect events hosted in these states as a promotion’s kickoff in 2023. Each of them had to pay a buy-in cost of ownership, which according to Owen’s was “in the 10s of millions”. He’s planning to rise it into “the 100s of millions in the next few years.” 

Owen couldn’t give any specific names of the owners, but he has said that both, former Titan FC executive, Joe Kelly, and Canadian MMA veteran, David Loiseau are involved. There were rumors about Georges St-Pierre’s involvement, but Owen stated that isn’t the case because GSP’s integrity could be hurt by participating in anything outside the UFC until he’s still under a contract with the promotion. 

There aren’t any fighters signed yet, but the recruiting process will start on January 1st of 2022. Owen assured that the teams’ owners are going to sign 192 fighters, which is a minimum number requested to fulfill the promotion’s plans to have eight teams in each conference. That number could grow if the WFL would decide to expand to 24 teams per conference, which in Owen’s mind is a maximum number. But for now, WFL will have to focus on its North American conference. 

One year recruitment period rose some concerns about fighters’ financial wellbeing. Owen said that they are free to fight for other promotions, and will be offered “guaranteed contracts” with WFL and “insurances” to help them with injures that may occur during the preparations for the season.  

As far as broadcast matters go, WFL will not sign anything until promotions’ officials will be sure that they got the best deal with the best partners.

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