The IFL held a conference call for the media today to announce that it will air one hour of its World Grand Prix from Chicago, IL live on Saturday, November 3 on MyNetwortkTV at 8 p.m. ET.
IFL co-founder and commissioner Kurt Otto made the formal announcement. He also praised the company for hiring Jay Larkin full-time and believes Larkin will be a key figure in helping the company turn the corner.
– Matches that will be televised were not announced but I think we all know that Chris Horodecki vs. Bart Palaszewski will somehow find its way on the broadcast. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ben Rothwell was also in the other match.
– It sounds as though they do not have a TV contract with MyNetworkTV signed for 2008. I might be taking liberties here, but I think the Nov. 3 show and its ratings will have huge implications on the IFL’s future with MyNetworkTV. In a separate statement, Otto said he feels they need live TV to be competitive. Well, if they don’t get live TV for ’08 then what does that mean?
– In a lot of ways, Nov. 3 will be a proving ground or a test. They are optimistic they will go live for the Dec. 29 World Grand Prix finals (going up against UFC 79 on PPV) but that a deal has not been worked out.
– Otto tried to put a positive spin on the loss of the three hours of TV time on MyNetworkTV. He cited various reasons why it’s not all bad: they don’t have to go up against the NFL; they have fewer shows right now due to their regular season being over; lower production costs; they’ve always rather the FSN show be two hours and the MNTV show be one hour; it’s less total TV time for them to produce so they can show the best matches; they will be sandwiched in between the UFC Wired and NFL Network TV shows, which obviously is perfect for their demo.
– Mike Ciesnolevicz is out of the light heavyweight portion of the World Grand Prix on Nov. 3, as he’s been suspended for six weeks due to a broken nose. The man who beat him and broke his nose at the IFL team finals last Thursday, Andre Gusmao (5-0), has moved into the WGP as the fourth seed. Alex Schoenauer is now the three seed and Mike Whitehead number four with Vladimir Matyushenko remaining number one.
– Two coaches are definitely out of the IFL and existing teams will be moved and some fighters will be changing rosters. Those announcements will be made in the upcoming weeks (I reported last week that Krzysztof Soszynski will likely be fighting for Matt Lindland at 205 lbs. next year).
– Two of next year’s new coaches have been confirmed as Ian Hamilton and Mario Sperry. I can also tell you that Sperry could be relocating to the U.S. and opening a school here.
– Fighters who underperformed this past season have been let go. Some of their roster spots will be filled through what the IFL is billing as a “2008 IFL Draft” that will be held in conjunction with LA Boxing. They will have three tryouts: Oct. 13 in LA; Oct. 20 in NY; and Oct. 27 in Chicago. Go to IFL.tv to register for the tryouts. It sounds like they prefer you have pro or amateur experience under your belt but it sounds like anyone who is serious will be given a chance to try out. Otto reminded everyone that John Gunderson was discovered through their tryouts a year ago so it looks like they expect to find a few hidden gems.
These tryouts are just one of the reasons why I want the IFL to stick around. I train MMA and have met some awesome fighters nobody has ever heard of. These guys in some cases work 1-2 jobs that they hate but they find time to train MMA because they love it so much. Well, some of these guys will be able to go to these tryouts and possibly walk away with a full-time job in MMA. How can you not appreciate the IFL for that?
– Otto was critical of both ex-Anacondas head coach Shawn Tompkins and ex-Sabers welterweight Antonio McKee. Said he was just disappointed how things worked out with Tompkins and wasn’t happy that McKee didn’t bother to read his contract and took the liberty of signing with another promotion and being advertised on their web site when he was exclusive to the IFL. Otto confirmed that McKee is not only out of the WGP but that he’s also out of the IFL. I also believe that McKee is no longer booked for the San Francisco show at the Cow Palace in October. Ouch.