WSOF President Ray Sefo fully supports the ban of TRT in MMA. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
As both a fighter and promoter, World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo holds a unique perspective in the world of combat sports.
A former K-1 kickboxer turned mixed martial artist, Sefo made his front office foray in 2012 by becoming WSOF president. Since that time, “Sugarfoot” has helped promote 10 WSOF events to date and even competed at WSOF 4, falling to Dave Huckaba in a heavyweight tilt this past August.
On Friday, Sefo spoke to Sherdog.com News Editor Mike Whitman to discuss his thoughts on a variety of topics, ranging from the Nevada Athletic Commission’s recent ban of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) to the WSOF’s plans in 2014.
MW: WSOF has crowned champions in a number of categories so far, and bantamweight is coming next. A middleweight champion will be decided soon with Jesse Taylor fighting Dave Branch. Do you have any indication of when we could see that fight?
RS: “Branch-Taylor is looking like it’s going to happen in June. There have been discussions between myself and [matchmaker] Ali [Abdelaziz]. It’s not 100 percent confirmed yet, but it’s looking like June.”
MW: If Yushin Okami wins in his debut on March 29, do you figure he will receive first crack at the winner of that Taylor-Branch title fight?
RS: “Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s the way it would go, for sure.”
MW: Your relationship with the UFC has always been cordial, but Anthony Johnson was arguably your biggest draw, and now he has returned to the UFC. You said when Johnson’s contract expired that you were going to support him no matter what he decided to do, but is there a piece of you that is disappointed that a guy you helped rebuild at a new weight is no longer with you?
“No, I’m not disappointed at all. We’re a company that is there for the fighters. Anthony is a great fighter and human being. His contract was up, and he wanted to go back to the UFC. I’m not going to hold onto a guy who isn’t where he wants to be. We have a good relationship with the UFC, and we have nothing but respect for them and what they do for the sport. Anthony Johnson is a great fighter, and that’s where he felt he needed to go. At the end of the day, we wish him the best and hope he becomes champion someday. I come from a martial arts background, and I’m a fighter myself. Fighters have to do what they think is best for them at that point in time. If he thinks that’s the best thing for him, then I’m going to support him 100 percent, you know?”
MW: Big news broke this past week regarding the ban of TRT in Nevada, which was then supported by California, Brazil and the UFC. What is your take on the TRT crackdown?
RS: “I agree 100 percent with the [NAC]. I’m glad they finally banned it. Whatever steroid or TRT or enhancement drug that’s used, it should all be banned. I come from an old school mindset. I don’t care what you take. If I hit you on the chin, I’m going to knock you out. With that said, the playing field has to be fair for everybody, and it doesn’t matter what sport you’re in. All of that is something that should never be used. I never used it in my career, and I commend the commission for finally making that decision and banning it.”
MW: As a fighter who has competed for many years in both kickboxing and MMA, can you see how an older competitor might have been attracted to something like TRT as a way to extend his career and improve his performance?
RS: “If you’re not competing, and you’re 45 or 50, you can do TRT. It can help you manage your life, or whatever. But we’re talking about facing another person. It’s not fair if you’re on something and the other guy is clean as day. How is that fair? I’m against it. I’ve been very fortunate to compete at my age, because I don’t drink or smoke or do drugs. I go out once every six months, if that, and I eat clean 95 percent of the time...If you’re not disciplined enough to live that kind of lifestyle, then you’re probably going to be looking for some kind of edge.”