On Wednesday night, Xtreme Fighting Championships returns with its first event in nearly five years – and with a lot of changes.
XFC 43 takes place at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Ga., and airs on NBC Sports. The event features the opening rounds of the promotion’s lightweight and welterweight tournaments, as well as a bantamweight main event between UFC veteran Andre Soukhamthath and Guilherme Faria.
A women’s strawweight matchup between former octagon competitors Jessica Aguilar and Danielle Taylor will serve as the co-main event.
XFC president Myron Molotky believes that the lineup for Wednesday night’s event will be the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the roster will continue to shape up.
“The fighters are excited,” Molotky told MMA Fighting. “We’re still getting messages to try and get on this card. We had to make a lot of changes because of what is going on in the world so we had to bring in alternate fighters, we have to pass our COVID tests, but the excitement is through the roof for us right now.”
The XFC held nearly 30 events in the U.S. from 2006-2013, along with 14 events in Brazil before the promotion was forced to close its doors in 2016 after the economic fallout of the World Cup and Olympics. The promotion has had names such as former UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza, Felice Herrig, Michel Perreira, Tyson Nam, Marlon Moraes and many others who cut their teeth in the hexagon.
Once operations came to a halt in 2016, plans were always in the works to get things back together. Under new ownership, led by CEO and former WWE executive Steve Smith, XFC became the only publicly traded MMA promotion in the world before it decided its triumphant return.
Performance bonuses for “Fight of the Night,” along with submission and knockout of the night, will earn a cash bonus plus 10,000 shares of XFC.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused a slight delay, XFC was only pushed back about four months.
“I think you’d have to back a year when we linked up with the new group,” Molotky said. “We took the company public and we’ve been working on that, which takes time. That was a grind.
“We were ready to get going in July. That was our target date and, of course, the pandemic hit and we just said, ‘Hey, we need to start living. Let’s get something together and NBC was excited to do it. Everyone is on the same page and it’s been a long, hard run for us. We’ve been on the sidelines for quite some time and we’re ready to go.”
One thing Molotky wanted to make clear is that the upcoming weight class tournaments will not crown new champions. They will, however, earn opportunities to fight for the respective titles down the road.
With their three-prong operational system in place—young guns (developmental talent), tournament series and superfights (top talent and tournament winners)—Molotky feels that his team has compiled an excellent recipe for the fans.
“We’ve got our business model: the young guns turn into the tournament, and the tournament turns into our super fights,” Molotky explained. “The matchmakers have done an outstanding job because they listen. I want bangers. I don’t want anyone going in there and being careful, or worried if they lose they won’t get another opportunity with XFC. No, let’s bring out the bangers, let’s get this thing really rocking especially with the relaunch [on Wednesday].
“We want to make sure with this roster that the MMA fans recognize it and if you’re an MMA fan, you can really go through that roster and pick out a lot of healthy names. But it’s the type of fighters we were looking for. We want to out on the most vicious fights that you’ll see inside a cage and one the hexagon door locks, it’s just gonna be fireworks.”
The time off from hosting events was certainly not ideal for Moltoky and the XFC promotion, but it has given them a new perspective and the ability to push the reset button to be able to provide a fresh and unique alternative to the space.
“It’s given us time to pause and make good decisions,” Molotky stated. “Just take a look at this fight card. When we landed in Brazil in 2013, we had 185 fighters from 35 countries and you’re relying on a lot of information. After the first couple of events, the phone starts ringing and people want to be a part of it.
“I feel like we have the same thing here. The goal is just to do it right. The goal is not to do it fast, the goal is not to throw absolutely everything out there in one event, we’re gonna do it the right way. We’re bringing in the fighters that fit and the ones we believe fans will be looking for. I’m looking for athleticism and violence. That’s what we do.
“Anybody that’s on the fence, don’t wait to hear about it [the day after],” Molotky continued. “There’s not gonna be a fight on there that you’re not gonna walk away and say, ‘That’s what I want to see in MMA, right there. What’s going on in that hexagon?’ Every single one of these fights is going to be absolutely incredible.”
Check out the full XFC 43 fight card below:
Main card, 9 p.m. EST, NBC Sports
Andre Soukhamthath vs. Guilherme Faria
Jessica Aguilar vs. Danielle Taylor
Jarel Askew vs. Kenny Cross — lightweight tournament bout
Kurt Holobaugh vs. Joziro Boye — lightweight tournament bout
Enzo Perez vs. Austin Bashi
Preliminary card, 5:30 p.m. EST, FITE TV
D’Juan Owens vs. Scott Hudson — lightweight tournament bout
Bradley Desir vs. Carson Hardman — welterweight tournament bout
Spencer Jebb vs. Bobby Nash — welterweight tournament bout
Jose Caceras vs. Tom O’Connor — lightweight tournament bout
Larue Burley vs. Alex Sanchez — welterweight tournament bout
Ryan Dickson vs. Mike Hill — welterweight tournament bout
Luis Navarro vs. Nick Horton