Earlier this afternoon the IFL held its second press conference in as many weeks to promote both their team semifinals on August 2 in East Rutherford, NJ as well as the announcement of the field for their first World Grand Prix that will be taking place in the fall.
Here are some notes from the conference:
– Each Grand Prix winner will be awarded a title belt and will be considered the champion for their respective weight class. Kurt Otto also revealed that during the ’08 season, Grand Prix champions might find themselves in situations where they will be defending the title.
While they will remain Grand Prix champion until the next Grand Prix, my understanding is that they will lose one of two belts should they lose in a title fight. When a title is defended in ’08, it will take place during the course of a team competition. So a figthter could find himself in a position where he’s in a match that will decide a title as well as whether his team wins its match.
There will be discretion used as to when a fighter’s title will be on the line. For instance, if Chris Horodecki is the lightweight champ and the Anacondas are fighting the Silverbacks and he’s pitted against Bart Palaszewski, chances are the title will be on the line. If Horodecki is fighting a guy with a 2-3 record from the Chicago Red Devils, the title likely won’t be at stake.
Some reporters had some concerns that incorporating individual titles into the team aspect could blur the team concept but I think it only adds to the drama and for what the IFL is trying to do on TV each week, the concept lends itself personally. Having title matches puts the IFL in a position where they can market title fights as main events and really build towards a big climax during the two-hour telecast on MyNetworkTV. I think IFL commissioner Kurt Otto describe the concept best when he said it will be the best of both worlds.
– The rules and rounds won’t change for title fights that take place as part of the team bouts. So title fights will not be five round of five minutes and will remain three rounds of four minutes. I don’t like that. I think all title fights should be five and five.
– Talks are ongoing as to how best showcase the World Grand Prix. I asked Otto is FSN or MyNetwork had contacted them with the expressed idea of possibly televising the Grand Prix live and Otto commented that FSN executives were at the Las Vegas show and came away very impressed. To me, it sounds like there are some different options on the table. I think if the money is right, there could be a chance we’d get to see some live IFL.
– I’ve been wanting to ask for a long time whether private investors have ever contacted the IFL about owning a franchise. Otto says they are contacted quite often and they’ve explored the idea. He said if they can make it work logistically that it’s something that could be possible. I think that could definitely be a future form of revenue for the IFL. Whether it would be enough revenue to effect their bottom line will depend on how much value the company can build up.
– Otto talked about their desire to start an internal drug testing program. He stressed that it needs to be a drug program and not just a steroids program because fighters are testing positive for recreational drugs. He said the IFL is willing to work with other promotions when it comes to an internal anti-drug program. Otto also talked about how educating fighters about the potential dangers of drugs is important. My idea would be to sit them all in a room and make them watch “The Smashing Machine” documentary about Mark Kerr. Let them see Kerr’s fights from his prime and his recent fights so they see how drug use can spiral out of control and you can lose everything.
– During the World Grand Prix, each card is expected to open with a “Superfight” between two fighters from the IFL who didn’t make the final four of their weight class.
– Otto confirmed that Ian Freeman will be coaching a UK team. A reported asked about talk of a possible Brazilian team and whether teams from Brazil and the UK would be U.S.-based or based in the native homelands. Otto didn’t have a definitive answer.
– Brazil’s version of the IFL was brought up and Otto took the “imitation is the greatest form of flattery” approach. He said that the league in Brazil is basically validation for their belief that the team concept could work. Otto also made sure to mention that several UFC fighters are coaches in Brazil and wondered if the UFC is changing their stance towards the IFL and the team concept? Somehow I don’t think Dana White’s opinion has changed.
– I was curious about how alternates would work after the completion of the first round of the Grand Prix. For example, suppose John Gunderson beat Wagnney Fabiano in Chicago but was able to fight in the finals in December because of injury. Would Fabiano advance or would Shad Lierley go right into the finals? Otto indicated that it would be Lierley and that in that scenario “he’d be a very lucky guy.”