The biggest homegrown star World Series Of Fighting has is lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. That fame comes at a cost and apparently the WSOF can't pay that price much longer.
Gaethje, who only has two fights left on his contract with the WSOF, first talked about becoming a free agent to the MMA Circus.
“I’m not exactly sure how [free agency] goes, I’m not really worried about it. I just gotta fight one fight at a time. I know that if I’m 18-0 with 15 knockouts, there’s going to be some bidding going on, and, ultimately, that’s going to be the goal. But I love World Series of Fighting; I would not mind one bit staying with them for the entirety of my career. We’ll see what happens,” said Gaethje.
Gaethje then brought up his salary in the WSOF, in which he is the highest paid fighter in the promotion. He believes this is why he has long bouts of inactivity.
“As a fighter, you always imply that you want to stay busy,” he said. “But business is business. I don’t think they can afford to give me any more fights in a year, to be honest with you, if I keep winning. I’m a competitor; I love to compete, I hate taking breaks, I love getting paychecks. I could fight five times a year and I probably would not be happy or satisfied. It’s a lot better for me and my career,” he said. “I’ll probably fight longer because I’m not fighting four times year right now. So, in hindsight, it is better for me. I get to take my breaks, I get to focus. Fighting five times a year, it’d be really hard to focus on every single fight. I’m doing what I need to do, I am satisfied, but, like I said, as a competitor, I have to always want to fight. I gotta be in the mindset to be ready to push myself at all times.”
Upon hearing of his champion's comments, WSOF President Rey Sefo issued a statement of his own on the MMA Circus.
“No, that is incorrect,” Sefo said. “A lot of these fighters forget that we don’t have 50 shows a year. We have 10 live shows and two [WSOF Global] shows. A lot of these guys forget that. I have 100 guys on my roster and I gotta make sure everybody fights. And that’s no secret. Every fighter that I’ve signed, they know that right off the bat. I have 10 live shows, I don’t have 50 live shows. There are some discussions going back and forth, waiting to hear back from NBC, but we may look at 18 shows next year. Then Justin can fight three or four times a year.”
Gaethje is expected to headline the WSOF debut in New York later this year, which means he could enter 2017 with only one fight left on his contract.