So, how does an MMA promotion not named UFC survive? Well, the WCF has a pretty good idea!
The Northeast of the U.S. has produced a pretty solid group of MMA fighters in recent years- Tim Sylvia & Marcus Davis (Maine), Kenny Florian, Dan & Joe Lauzon (Massachusetts), Matt Serra and Jon Jones (New York), Josh Koscheck (Pennsylvania) etc… and with the rise in popularity of MMA, you will be sure to see more rising talent oozing out of this area in the near future.
Make no mistake; while MMA is popping up all across the Northeast, the heart of the scene is squarely in Massachusetts. This is where some of the most exciting talent in the Northeast is mixing it up on a regular basis. The top promotions in the region have all set up shop here, playing the part of the Pilgrims in a new MMA land. In fact, two of the top promotions, Full Force and Reality Fighting, have both staked their claims in Plymouth, which I’m sure would have made John Smith very proud.
If you go a little bit more North, you’ll hit Wilmington, which used to be best known for being the home of the Baldwin apple. But, since being trumped by the McIntosh as the most popular apple in New England, Wilmington may now be best known for playing host to the exciting and rising MMA promotion known as World Championship Fighting (WCF).
Joe Cavallaro has been well connected to the MMA world for quite awhile. He’s been a friend of Dana White for almost 20 years. And he’s been a top manager for some of the more successful MMA fighters in recent years like Marcus Davis, Kenny Florian and Sam Hoger. But two years ago he decided to throw his hat in to the ring as a promoter when he began World Championship Fighting (WCF).
By all definitions WCF is a small promotion— It caters to a specific region, the New England area (Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut…); it operates on a very modest budget; puts all their shows on at one arena (Shriner’s Auditorium); and relies heavily on regional fighters. The entire promotional team is actually a three man gang putting in 16 hour days: Joe Cavallaro, his right hand man Sal Carrillo and matchmaker Rick Caldwell.
While WCF isn’t yet a household name- in a day and age where MMA Promotions fold seemingly every other month (Bodog, IFL, Elite XC…) WCF is slowly but surely succeeding. Following the old adage, “Never bite off more than you can chew” WCF is about to put on their 5th show on November 14th. They have done deals with HDNet, ESPN, and NBC, and have been the topic of one of TapouT’s reality shows. They also reap the benefits of strong Media Relations, which has led to an unusually high amount of exposure for a regional promotion that has only been around for a couple of years.
There are plans to expand further into the Northeast, eventually doing venues in Philadelphia and New York (once they license MMA). Cavallaro has stated the importance of continuing exposure, but has made it clear that he sees his promotions success not in replacing or going head to head with the UFC, but rather in finding a regional niche that can catapult the next great MMA fighters.
“Eventually we hope to get enough shows to do a TV deal. We’re not trying to position WCF as number one, or as a competitor with UFC, we want to work with them.”
To that end Cavallaro and the WCF are already starting to succeed. Light Heavyweight Jon Jones fought in WCF 3 last June, and was fighting for the UFC three months later where he defeated Andre Gusmao. Now he’s scheduled to fight Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94 on their Super Bowl card. Talk about launching a fighter!
Featherweight John Franchi and Lightweight Nate LaMotte were so impressive fighting in WCF 2 last February that they were both brought in to fight for the IFL before it folded. Franchi submitted another WCF fighter Frank Latina in the IFL’s swan song, while LaMotte lost a Decision to the IFL’s top Lightweight Chris Horodecki on their April card.
Franchi has now signed with the WEC, while LaMotte is scheduled to fight in WCF 5 on November 14th.
WCF’s biggest draw though is probably Dan “The Upgrade” Lauzon. Lauzon is still the youngest fighter ever to fight in the UFC, where he lost to Spencer Fisher at the tender age of 18 during UFC 64. Since then Lauzon has gone 6-1, while gaining much needed experience. WCF has provided him with a venue where he has been able to stay sharp on a regular basis. WCF 5 will be the third time he’s fought for them, and hopefully not his last. But if it is, WCF has met one of its prime directives, by helping another young fighter launch his career. Lauzon is signed to fight Chris Horodecki at Affliction 2 on January 24th.
For WCF, the fun is only beginning. WCF 5 on November 14th at Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, Massachusetts looks to be their best card yet. The Main Event is what many in the region are deeming a contest between the two best Middleweights in the Northeast:
Nate Kittredge, 6-1 (Green Mountain Boys) with his ultra intense ground and pound game faces off against US Marine and Iraq War vet Justin Torrey, 4-0, who returns from helping Patrick Cote train for his fight with Anderson Silva.
Other fights that should set off fire works include Dan Lauzon vs Justin “The Sledge” Hammerstrom, and a battle of unbeaten lightweights, John Benoit (5-0) vs Jon Bermudez (3-0). But, then again who knows what other diamonds will be found in the rough. That’s the beauty of promotions like the WCF— there’s always another hungry, up and comer chomping at the bit ready to make his mark!
WCF 5 is November 14th (7:30 PM) at the Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass. To buy tickets and read more about the WCF go to:
or click on link at bottom of article (WCF)
*** If you want to listen to Fightline Radio’s EXCLUSIVE interview with WCF fighters Dan Lauzon and Justin “The Sledge” Hammerstrom go to: