Photo courtesy of the International Fight League.
It’s official. Let us all give the International Fight League a farewell. After over two years of promoting mixed martial arts events across the United States, the IFL will indeed cease operations at the end of the month according to IFL Senior VP Joe Favorito.
From an email sent out today:
I apologize for this mass email but I wanted to take a second to let you know that as of July 31 my role at the IFL will be no more as the company goes into its final stage of being sold and/or closed down. We are very proud of what we did here in just over two years, building a brand from nothing into something that people in the industry and outside of the industry actually noticed, and I enjoyed working with so many different people and helped tell some great stories. At the end of the day sometimes the finances don’t make sense, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.
Various sources are now reporting that the UFC has indeed purchased the IFL, or some assets from it. Not surprising at all considering the deal was most likely finalized this past weekend when the UFC mentioned the IFL multiple times throughout last Saturday’s Spike TV broadcast as well as IFL footage being used to promote new acquisition Reese Andy.
While the IFL received it’s fair share of criticism during it’s stint and likely ended up failing for more reasons than one, I’m not really going to dive into all of the negative stuff. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know the first thing about running an MMA promotion. However I will say that what the IFL accomplished over the last few years will certainly have an impact on the sport for years to come.
The IFL made a lot of lesser known fighters household names - Chris Horodecki, Roy Nelson, and Wagnney Fabiano are now set to be some of MMA’s hottest free agents. The careers of Jay Hieron and Vladimir Matyushenko, which were previously left for dead, have now re-ignited so much that some critics have both guys as Top 10 fighters in their respective divisions.
A lot of people choose to dismiss it, but in reality, the IFL was actually the first promotion to secure a network television deal in the form of their one-year fling with MyNetworkTV that culminated with a live broadcast of the first round of the IFL’s Grand Prix last November. They were also the first major organization to really push for fighters to have mandatory health care provided by their employers, even instituting their own program at one point, which I’m sure many were grateful for.
So for once, let’s pull all of the bashing aside. Let’s look past the lame team format, terrible first episode of “IFL Battleground”, and appreciate the good things they did for the sport. If anything, the IFL was always extremely fan-friendly, very professional, and treated the fighters and media very well. I’m sure everyone, even Dana White, can appreciate those things.