After watching tonight’s episode show of IFL Battleground, I can’t lie. I’m becoming a fan, thanks in large part to the new direction of their show that has been implemented by the new production.
At first, I watched IFL Battleground because all I had seen were a few shows on FSN and I was curious to see what they could do with a two-hour show on network TV. Then, I only watched because I felt like it was my job to. After awhile, I really didn’t watch much at all. Now, I’m watching because I’m a fan.
I was lukewarm about the team format but I am warming up to it. Do I think you can have the number one promotion in the world with a team format? No. Do I think you can have a viable number two promotion in the world with a team format? Yes. I’m not sure the team format works for PPV (although I’d pay to see the semfinals, finals, and the Grand Prixs) but it’s perfect for weekly TV because there is a built-in storyline each week. For all their talent, I’m not sure the UFC could put out a weekly show that wasn’t done in a best of UFC Unleashed format.
The fights tonight were very good. Some of them were quick knockouts, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Reese Andy vs. Kryzstof Soszynski was a solid heavyweight battle with active ground action. Andy gassed in the third but looked impressive before that. I’d be curious to see what he can do at light heavyweight because he competes at 206 lbs. in the heavyweight division.
Seeing Jay Hieron lose was surprising because he’s one of the better fighters in the IFL.
But the fight of the night was Chris Horodecki vs. Shad Lierley. Horodecki is already becoming big time but another star was born for the IFL in Lierley. Where did he come from? He stood and traded with Horodecki and while his defense was non-existent, he showed a strong chin and was able to dish out punishment. Apparently his strong suit is his ground game.
I’m also still amazed at Horodecki’s hand speed. He snaps his punches and can get his hands back to a defensive position in almost no time. Usually fighters that can bring their hands back that quickly don’t have much juice on their punches, ala Floyd Mayweather Jr. But Horodecki obviously has knockout power as demonstrated in previous fights.
As for the fight itself, it certainly was as good as advertised. I think I’d have to rate it as the second best match I’ve seen this year, right behind Tyson Griffin vs. Clay Guida. The standup between Lierley vs. Horodecki was better but the standup between Guida and Griffin was good, plus the ground action was unreal.
I also liked a lot of the features they showed during the show. I thought it was especially cool when they showed the LA Anacondas not only training together, but living together as well.
One final thought, from a logistical standpoint it will never happen but I’d love to see the IFL do a made-for-TV event and have a one night eight-man lightweight Grand Prix televised live on MyNetworkTV. They’ll be conducting a four-man GP over the course of two shows this fall but there’s so much depth at 155 lbs. in the IFL right now and it would be great to see all the top guys have a chance to show who is best and it would be even better to see everything decided in one night.
My idea will never happen though because one-night tournaments are a thing of the past and I don’t know if the IFL has any plans of doing a live telecast on a Monday night. However, having a live tournament with your deepest division might be a great way for the IFL to make some noise and draw their biggest rating.
I really hope the IFL can build on their current momentum from their TV show and get some additional financing so that they come back in ’08.