In spite of recent reports making claims to the contrary, new IFL President and Chief Operating Officer Jay Larkin claims in a new interview I conducted with him for CBSSports.com that the promotion has a TV deal in place for next year:
Q: As a point of clarification, is the IFL without a contract to do live TV on MyNetworkTV next year or without a TV deal with MyNetworkTV entirely at the moment?
JL: We have a TV deal in place with MyNetwork and Fox Sports Network. We’re examining that deal now. We have every indication from our partners at Fox that they’re very enthusiastic about the IFL on their channel and want us to come back next year, and we’re in those talks as we speak.
Q: But as of now is there a deal for 2008 in place?
JL: Yes, there’s a deal for 2008 in place. It’s in various stages of going through the lawyers and it’s being reviewed here. Being a TV guy, I want to take a hard look at the existing television deals. But there’s definitely a television deal for 2008 that’s in place.
For over 20 years Larkin was a top executive for the Showtime Network. Larkin was responsible for brining boxing to the premium cable network and one of his top promoters was none other than EliteXC live events president Gary Shaw. I asked Larkin if there was any chance of the IFL and EliteXC working together in the future:
Q: I know you still have strong relationships with the people at Showtime and Gareb Shamus and Kurt Otto are open to working with other promotions for the betterment of MMA. EliteXC president of live events Gary Shaw also claims to have an open door policy. Is working with EliteXC and Showtime something you’d be open to in the future?
JL: It’s something we would be very much open to. You’ve got the one big obstacle of the cage vs. the ring. The IFL, as you know, is a ring sport, and Elite’s fighters are fighting in a cage, so that would be an obstacle. Gary Shaw is a very old and close friend of mine, so that is certainly not an obstacle.
There are some issues that need to be explored about organizations working together but I don’t think there’s any obstacle there. If you look at boxing as an example, most major boxing fights are co-promotions. You’ll have Don King working with Bob Arum or you’ll have Golden Boy working with Lou DiBella, or whoever it may be. I see no reason in the world why the IFL and Elite couldn’t do a promotion other than the logistics of the cage.
I also asked Larkin about future financing for the IFL, his vision for the promotion, whether he’d be open to a merger or acquisition and much more. You can read the entire interview by clicking here.