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How to fix the IFL

This Saturday is quite possibly the most important day in the IFL’s short history: the day they do their first live broadcast for MyNetworkTV and Fox Sports World. Of course, IFL president Jay Larkin will be in England for the Kessler-Calzaghe fight. That just makes sense. Fortunately, Larkin did stick around long enough to have a phone conference on Tuesday before fucking off.

Interesting tidbits gleaned from that call included the idea of dropping heavyweights in favor of featherweights (do I even have to say this is dumb?) and changing the team format from the oh so hip wild animal theme to camp themed:

Past matches between cities like New York and Quad Cities will be replaced under the revamped format by competitions between camps, such as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Miletich Fighting Systems.

This is perhaps the smartest move the IFL has made yet, although knowing them they’re bound to fuck up the execution. But just so you know how ‘doing it right’ would look like, here’s my proposal to ‘trim the fat’ and fix the IFL:

-Switch the teams from cities to camps. It’s never been smart to (as Dana says) have the Seattle Woodchucks vs the Toronto Beavers. No one gives a fuck. Now XTreme Couture vs Jackson’s Submission Camp would be something else.

-Allow the teams to draw from their entire camp through the whole season. Stop locking these guys into season-long contracts that have you paying them way too much to sit out injured. Fight by fight is the way to go because you’re no longer responsible for paying them past fight night. Give up on your stupid “building stars” aspirations. While you’re growing, just accept your role as a stepping stone in fighter’s careers. The only way you’re gonna lose a fighter to another org is if the UFC picks them up.

-Dump the ‘coach’ concept. It’s just extra money to keep these guys on staff, plus it keeps a lot of guys from participating because of Dana White’s scorched earth policy towards the IFL. Dana White can keep Jorge Gurgel and Rich Franklin from being coaches, but he can’t stop American Fighter or Team Gurgel fighters from participating under their club banner. And again, not having to pay coaches a ton of money to do what they’d be doing anyways is just smart.

-Cut your TV shows down to an hour. The IFL simply doesn’t have enough content to be doing a two hour MyNetworkTV show every week plus god knows how many Fox Sports shows. The strain to produce non-fight content is too great and the IFL is burning way too much money and resources trying to keep it up. Even the UFC had a hard time with it’s ‘news programme’ show. Take a hint: people want to watch fights.

-Not only do people want to watch fights, they prefer to watch them live. Larkin has already said this is a big important one: Their shows have to be live, and not just 1 hour live. Two hours is more reasonable and they should be doing it four times a year. Obviously they’re stuck with the TV deals they have, but it should be #1 priority to set live shows in place.

-Stop jumping all over the country. Partner up with a few reliable local promoters and grow your shows in specific areas. Have one camp battle plus a locals-heavy undercard and a decent headlining fight (fuck, if a shitty Canadian league can have Aleks E for one show, so can you). Make your partnership with a middling flat fee plus good attendance goal bonuses.

-And last and definitely least, put Don Frye in the commentator’s booth as the third man. He’s pretty much useless as a coach and the IFL only keeps him around for his “Dear Don” columns and old school appeal. If he’s too unstable in the booth then I’m sure there’s bits and stuff he could do for Battleground. Frye is a personality and worth keeping around.

Anyways, these are just the ideas off the top of my head. If the IFL were to offer me 60k a year (no stock, you fucking bastards), I’d be willing to sit down and flesh these ideas out for them with some crayons and bristol board.

  • el feo

    these are good ideas. i’ve been rooting for the IFL and I hope it works out.

  • Audacity

    The only foreseeable downside to the camp system is that the Xtreme Couture Supersoldiers will dominate the league.

    The problem that I always had with the coach system was that they were only fighters that I cared about almost a decade ago. Renzo Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Pat Miletich… I loved these guys, but they’re no longer star power.

    Dear Don: Can a man of your strength pull the IFL’s collective heads out of their asses?

  • Luke

    The IFL has taken a beating by fans, bloggers, and anyone with a mammalian brain, but the truth is no one was rooting for the IFL’s downfall because of some inherit dislike. We would all like the IFL to succeed, but the comedy of errors that was their launch into the MMA market made open endorsement difficult.

    If Larkin is serious about these changes, he will have an instant supporter in me and many others. And Fightlinker’s recommendations, while I don’t agree with all of them, are pretty damn smart. The IFL would do well to read this post.

  • Luke

    Ugh. Meant to type “inherent”, not “inherit”

  • fightlinker

    haha luke can’t spell

  • kentyman

    And quit interviewing Matt Horwich. He gives me the jibblies.

  • stellar53

    My advice:

    Quit the coaches, quit the team concept, have live shows…..i’m out of ideas now

  • Atom

    “Getting paid the same as 0-8 Wojtek Kaszowski fucking stupid”

    -Ben Rothwell on Sherdog (the thread 5oz just mentioned)

  • Lifer

    The main problem with the IFL is that I don’t know when it will be on, what channel, what time, etc.

    I just download it and since they broadcast the show on like 3 different channels, the different channels release broadcasts of the SAME EVENTS with different editing. I can barely tell the no-name fighters apart and most of the fights are so boring I can barely remember if I have seen it or not until half-way through the fight.’

    Getting paid the same amount as the worst fighter in the league is pretty horrible for Ben… Does he not get any other kind of compensation for winning? haha!

  • Jemaleddin

    “Cut your TV shows down to an hour.”

    Well, the “International Fight League” version of the show is an hour… the “IFL Battleground” show is 2, and my TiVo gets both.

    The thing is that they usually seem to have about 75 minutes worth of content – enough that in an hour format they have to either seriously edit or leave out at least one fight, but in a 2 hour format I spend 45 minutes fast-fowarding through absolute BS. I can’t wait until everyone has something like TiVo so that shows don’t have to start and finish in 30 or 60 minute increments.

  • Matt

    Where will Whitehead fight? He’s like the whore that gets passed around to everybody at a drunk party. Except he’s a heavyweight figther that won’t take Big Bens spot.

  • intenso

    Whitehead is more of a chunky 185er than a HW.

    I actually like the team concept (although make it camp based rather than city/gay nickname based is a lot better). I think the team concept will appeal to sports fans if they just market it right.

  • intenso

    oops I meant 205er

  • marshal

    Agreed, team mascots are very gay (sorry, team mascots are very fag).

  • Prozac For All

    The IFL just needs to step up their game, innovate, and get some more publicity and they’ll be a regular ol’ UFC killer. Here’s what I would do:

    – Nullify UFC’s Roger Huerta effect and beat the UFC into Mexico. Appease the locals with familiar customs, perhaps settling fights that are too close to be called with the use of blindfolds and piñata sticks.

    – Ben Rothwell in a wig to kickstart the IFL women’s division.

    – Take Japan’s “freakshow fight fixation” to the next level. Forget Giant Silva, Hong-man Choi, and Zulu. How about a perturbed grizzly bear vs a full class of over-caffeinated preschool toddlers?

    – Distribute beachballs to the audience for a more festive atmosphere.

    – Nothing generates publicity like a sex tape scandal. Maybe it’s time for Bart Palaszewski to get caught in the act with a famous starlet and take one for the team.

    – 1-up the UFC and move to a 9-sided cage; “Let’s get it on in the nonagon!”

    – Make the fighting area somewhat resemble an obstacle course, perhaps even containing a number of trick mirrors and a mote.

    – Double the number of people interested in the IFL by getting women to watch it; somehow infuse it with babies, celebrity dancing, tampons, and romance while keeping it action-packed.

    All in all it’s no small task, but the IFL could be the real deal some day.

  • kentyman

    Like giving the cutmen epinephrine-soaked tampons instead of Q-tips?

    I guess it only makes sense to combine our bloody-gash drying technologies.

  • marshal

    HAHA Prozac

  • kentyman

    Dang, we should be posting over here: