by Damon Martin & Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
The International Fight League announced on Tuesday the resignation of co-founder Gareb Shamus, who also served as chairman and chief executive officer. His replacement will be Jay Larkin, who recently joined the IFL as president and chief operating officer.
Shamus started the IFL along with current commissioner Kurt Otto in 2005. His resignation came suddenly after more than two years of service with the
Working as the head of Wizard World Entertainment, Shamus helped build the IFL from the ground up and although he has resigned his position, he will remain a consultant for the organization.
His replacement, Larkin, worked with Showtime for many years helping to develop live programming and worked extensively to book and grow the company’s boxing coverage through the years.
“Taking a sports and entertainment entity from an idea to an established brand in 14 months is nothing short of amazing. Gareb should be commended for his vision and leadership during that period,” Larkin said in a statement.
Many major changes have shaken up the IFL lately including the releases of prominent coaches such as Frank Shamrock, Maurice Smith, and Don Frye; and now the resignation of Shamus. But there are many more changes on the way according to comments made by Larkin in Wednesday’s third quarter earnings conference call.
“There are a number of things we need to do to improve our cash flow and enhance the investment value in the IFL,” said the new CEO. “We will be making changes to the league in reorganizing our events to reduce costs, but also improve them as well.
“Rather than a New York team versus a Houston team versus a Los Angeles team, which was a fabrication, quite honestly … we’re going to go to the reality of it. The reality is that all these fighters fight with different disciplines. They all have different techniques and that’s really where the true competition is going to come from is all these different disciplines fighting each other.”
Larkin also alluded to the possibility that their current situation regarding television is not set in stone saying, “We’re in the process of fine-tuning our television relationships and in a few days, hope to announce our partner for our December event.”
Up until Wednesday, most assumptions were that the Dec. 29 IFL World Grand Prix Finals would air on MyNetwork TV, but Larkin’s comments definitely left that open to question.
“We are not exclusive to the Fox consortium of MyNetwork and FSN. We are talking to several other carriers right now.”
A primary concern to him has been a common complaint among MMA fans; the fights are dated by the time they air on television.
“In this Internet age results of fights are known immediately. There is no compelling reason to watch a taped sports show,” said Larkin. “The only way to offset that is to go live. Alternatively, when we can’t do live TV, we will integrate our sponsors better into the shows. We hope to create the opportunity for advertiser supported Internet webcasting.”
He also indicated that the presentation of the events is going to change.
“We need to make significant cosmetic changes. You’ll see this starting in December. The shows will be hotter, more theatrical, more entertaining, but always maintaining the sports integrity. This is a sporting event and will be treated as such.”
One thing he indicated that won’t change, at least not in the same manner as the resignation of Shamus, is the presence of Kurt Otto, the IFL’s commissioner.
“He is certainly on board,” Larkin stated. “His role as the commissioner remains the same, if not enhanced. I am going to find myself relying on him more and more. I am certainly new to the MMA world and Kurt is an expert when it comes to the competition and the matchmaking.”