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Interview: Larkin believes the IFL has a leg up on the competition

First, allow me to apologize for a lack of posting. I am currently in Miami on assignment. I return home tomorrow but regular posting my not resume until Tuesday due to a deadline on Monday for a separate project. MMA can be a lot of work but it beats a real job any day of the week. I’d rather work 70 hours a week doing something that I enjoy as opposed to 40 hours doing something that I detest.

If you’ve tried e-mailing me and haven’t gotten a response, I apologize. For whatever reason, the connection at the hotel allows me to receive e-mails but won’t allow me to send them out. A lot of my responses are saved and will be sent out Sunday when I get home.

I will be doing a post this morning with my picks for tonight’s EliteXC: Street Certified card but before that I wanted to alert your attention to my weekly column.

I conducted a very candid interview with International Fight League President and CEO Jay Larkin and the transcription of that conversation is now available by clicking here. I respect a lot of people in this industry and Larkin is at the top of the list. A lot of people believe that television is the key to the growth of this sport and few involved in MMA have more experience in television than Larkin.

I really feel this is a strong interview with Larkin saying some very intriguing things. I found Larkin’s comments about his feeling that consolidation is the future of the industry to be very interesting:

Q: You’ve just expressed concerns about how other companies are conducting their business. Have you had a chance to go to the other fight promotions and express your concerns directly?

JL: Yeah. Listen, I think rollup or consolidation is the future of this industry. I think you’ve got a whole bunch of smaller companies out there that are struggling. I certainly think the way to do it is to have an association; a consolidation; if not an outright partnership with a combination of companies. Certainly by combining all of the smaller groups that are out there, you’ve got this huge economy of scale as suddenly coming to the table and we could actually build a very compelling business model …

If you look at assets, we are very well positioned. We are the only ones now that have had live MMA competition on broadcast television. The only ones. That was with MyNetworkTV… We’re finding that the consumer is aware of UFC and to a much lesser degree aware of IFL, and to no degree aware of all of the others; the Elite(XC)s, the M-1s, (and) Strikeforce. They’re doing fine (and) they’re doing their own business and in some cases have a higher profile than others but as far as the consumer goes, they equate MMA with UFC. 

I don’t know if that can change and I’ll tell you, I have no intention of going head-to-head with UFC and at best hope to be UFC-lite. That has no appeal to me (and) I think it is a mistake to go up against a company that’s private and can operate under conditions that a public corporation cannot (and) that has demonstrated they have vast resources and has demonstrated they are willing to lose money if need be to establish the brand. That’s a recipe for losing a battle. I am much more interested in being in the war, and that means having our own identity and our own brand … One of the major things along those lines is that when you watch one of our shows, just by not seeing a cage you know you’re not watching the UFC and that you’re watching the IFL.

As far as the fights go, our fights continue to be every bit as competitive as anyone’s, if not more so. You can take any one of our fights and lift it out of an IFL environment and drop it into the lights, the music, and the turmoil of a UFC event and nobody would ever think twice. It would probably even be an improvement over the fighting.

You should really check out the entire interview, which you can do by clicking here.

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