The IFL held a conference call on Wednesday that was hosted by league commissioner and co-founder, Kurt Otto. The call was scheduled to alert the media about the league’s plans for the 2008 season.
Here are the highlights from the call:
– Kurt Angle’s name was brought up towards the end of the call. Otto confirmed that the promotion hosted Angle during the Team Finals in Florida that took place in September and said that he’s had talks with Angle’s manager, Dave Hawk. In response to Angle’s previous statements that he’d be fighting for the IFL in the future, Otto said he thinks that Angle might have experienced “buyer’s remorse” and is having second thoughts after watching the fights up close. He said if Angle wants to compete, he has three guys specifically in mind as potential opponents. When pressed, Otto would not name those three guys. He also indicated that if Angle fought for the IFL, it likely would be in a pay-per-view situation.
– Otto indicated that he and Monte Cox are on speaking terms again and he was also complementary to M-1 Global. He wouldn’t rule out Ben Rothwell re-signing with the IFL and felt that they can make him an attractive offer. However, he didn’t sound overly optimistic. The impression I got, and this is conjecture on my part, is that pretty much everyone is resigned to the fact that Rothwell will be fighting for M-1 in 2008.
– The league will open the ’08 season in Las Vegas on February 29 at the Orleans Center.
– I also posed several questions about Andre Gusmao and the reports that claimed he’d be debuting with the UFC in February and then the subsequent reports that he wouldn’t be. Otto said that someone representing Gusmao gave the UFC a false impression that he was free and clear to negotiate. When the IFL got wind of reports, Otto contacted UFC V.P. of talent relations, Joe Silva. Otto was complementary towards Silva and said the UFC retracted their offer after speaking to the IFL.
The interesting part is that it sounds as though Gusmao is not signed to the IFL for ’08 and could still fight for the UFC next year. What it sounded like to me is that the IFL either has a right of first refusal in Gusmao’s contract and or retains an exclusive negotiation period.
I believe there is definitely a right of first refusal as Otto expressed his belief that the IFL will be able to make the best financial offer for Gusmao’s services. Otto also stated he felt it was interesting that after people had said the UFC wasn’t interested in their fighters that there could be a bidding war over Gusmao that will take place.