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.