by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
On the heels of their 2007 team championship, and before their first live televised event, the IFL announced changes coming in 2008.
The IFL, the world’s first mixed martial arts team oriented fight promotion, will implement a draft in 2008 much like pre-season player drafts in most other professional team sports.
“Our 2008 IFL draft, this is something that we’re excited about because, number one, we have created a new partnership with L.A. Boxing.
“Number two, we are going to be creating an influx of brand new talent into the IFL family and give our coaches a variety of new talent so they do not just have to rely on their existing camp, but to be able to pick from a slew of talent internationally,” said IFL commissioner and co-founder Kurt Otto.
The IFL plans three tryouts in various locations across the U.S. to generate a pool of fighters as draftees. The IFL tryouts will kick off Oct. 13 at L.A. Boxing in Los Angeles, Calif. A week later, on Oct. 20, tryouts will be held in New York, and on the 27th, there will be tryouts in Chicago.
It’s not necessarily downsizing, but the original plan was to add four teams and expand the IFL team roster from twelve to sixteen teams in 2008. Otto confirmed that plans have changed and the IFL league will once again consist of twelve teams in 2008.
Otto explained, “We’re pretty much going to hold ground at twelve teams, and we’ve already added two coaches into our league as far as Mario Sperry and Ian Freeman, who have already started building their teams. They’re going to be replacing two existing coaches that just, in the league’s positions, just have not been able to produce the level of athletes that we need and a level of coach that we need.
“I think it’s going to be great to do that because it’s going to set the tone for 2008 that we’re taking it to the next level.
“Mario Sperry and Ian Freeman have stepped up to the plate and said they could produce unbelievable teams. I also think it’s important not to add teams just for the sake of adding teams.”
Otto continued, “Those two are going to be replacing certain teams which we’re going to be announcing in the next two to three weeks. Even though two or three teams [are] leaving, we’re still going to keep certain athletes of those teams that were able to compete and have them go on to new teams.”
Not only will the IFL be cutting some teams and adding news ones, some of the existing teams will be changing locations.
“There’s actually going to be a couple of changes with some of the existing teams,” stated Otto. “Whether they’re going to be moving to a new state or to a new country, so there’s going to be a little bit of modification there as well. It’s not just two in and two out, there’s some other modifications as well.”
So as the IFL continues to field questions about its financial health, Otto appears as committed as ever to making moves in an attempt to improve the league’s quality and move forward.