Photo courtesy of International Fight League.
The rocky relationship between the International Fight League and MyNetworkTV continues for now.
Like we reported last week, The Fight Network confirmed with officials from the network that IFL programming would no longer be in the lineup. In a new interview with MMA Madness, IFL CEO Kurt Otto admits that the station has placed IFL programming “on hiatus”.
According to Otto, it means that the network may or may not decide to begin airing IFL-related television shows once again.
Despite the gloomy outlook, Otto remains optimistic about the chances of his promotion holding it’s place as the first mixed martial arts promotion to ever be shown on a non-cable channel.
“(The network) is excited about having us. Our ratings went up 20-percent,” Otto said in the interview. “After all, there is little other programming that so reliably delivers the coveted male 18-36 year old demographic to networks and advertisers.”
This doesn’t leave the IFL without a television deal however as they inked a deal with Mark Cuban’s HDNet earlier this month.
The agreement will have the network televise the IFL’s first three events in 2008, starting with their Las Vegas show on February 29th, which features a total of three title fights.
Still, the fact that HDNet only reaches around eight million homes while MyNetworkTV could be seen in 95% of homes in North America is a huge hit to a promotion that has fallen on hard times ever since it’s inception in 2006.
To be honest, it kind of saddens me that the IFL won’t be getting as much exposure compared to last season. After a terrible start on the network in terms of production, the IFL rebounded in a big way and the first round of their Grand Prix being broadcast live was a solid way to cap off the end of the year.
Touch of gloves to Fightlinker for the find of the Otto interview.
The IFL will be changing in many ways in 2008 and we’re here to tell you all about it…
The promotion held a conference call yesterday afternoon to announce the new changes and answer any questions that the press might have had. IFL Commissioner Kurt Otto and IFL Manager of Public Relations Jerry Milani were both on hand during the call.
Teams, Titles, and TV
The IFL will be switching from a team to a camp format meaning that instead of the Quad City Silverbacks and Portland Wolfpack, Miletich Fighting Systems and Team Quest will now be represented. Events will now feature teams putting three fighters in place to compete instead of five like in the past. This was done in order to create easier injury replacement situations.
Camps that are not under contract with the IFL will be permitted to compete. Team Punishment and Xtreme Couture are examples of this. Fighters from those camps can also compete for a title. Speaking of titles, each event will feature a minimum of eight fights - two title defenses and two matches between teams. Preliminary bouts are an option for each event also, especially for those that will be entering via the IFL Draft.
The IFL’s next event will take place at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on February 29th. They currently have a deal in place with FOX Sports Net and are currently in discussions with MyNetworkTV. They are also in talks with other networks as well.
Updates on Frye, Rothwell, Rutten, Angle, and Gusmao
Don Frye will no longer be coaching with the IFL but will continue to do his “Dear Don” episodes as well as visiting with US troops overseas in conjunction with the IFL. Ben Rothwell is currently not with the IFL and is a free agent. Otto stated that while he’s sure that Rothwell will end up somewhere else, he hopes that he would consider a return in the future.
Bas Rutten will not be coaching in 2008 and will remain as the color commentator on broadcasts. There is no real news involving Kurt Angle except that Angle’s manager formally expressed his client’s interest in competing inside the confines of the IFL.
As far the Andre Gusmao situation goes, Gusmao and his agent misinterpreted his contract and attempted to strike a deal with the IFL. The IFL let the UFC know that they still had his rights and they retracted their offer. Otto and company are currently in talks with Gusmao and his representation during an exclusive negotiation period.
There was no official mention of plans to have another IFL Grand Prix. Both fighters with multi-fight deals and single-fight deals will be busy. No intent to include women in the fold anytime soon. The old IFL teams and logos will be done away with. Rosters will be announced after the new year. No indication of a formal set of standings for next season. Plans are currently to tame the travel schedule. Shorts will have an IFL logo and the logo of the camp on them. The IFL’s official “road map” is here. Sam Caplan has another excellent breakdown of everything here. Jarry Park has audio of the call here.