by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The International Fight League recently announced many changes to its upcoming season including format differences with the teams, coaches and title bouts. Among the new ideas for this year will be the inclusion of the organization’s willingness to welcome in fighters from other promotions to guarantee the best match-ups possible.
With the new format, the IFL is moving to a camp versus camp team match-up. Gone will be the days of the Silverbacks, Anacondas and Pitbulls. Now fans can expect Miletich Fighting Systems, Bas Rutten Martial Arts, and Renzo Gracie’s Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
In a statement issued by the IFL, the promotion stated the open door policy for fighters and camps to come in and challenge to prove they belong among the best in the world.
“We are also open to working with any and all organizations to put the best match-ups together for the fans. That is the beauty of the system and the schedule that we have now set up and revealed here today,” read the statement. “If there is a camp that is comprised of athletes from another organization anywhere around the globe and the match-ups make sense, we would welcome them into the IFL for a one-off event. We shall see how that plays out, but the response from many camps has been very positive.
“Our goal is to ultimately show which fighting style and which camp is the best. We realize that coaches, trainers and athletes have commitments in other organizations, but holes do exist for challenges, especially with up-and-coming fighters.
“We provide an open platform for all camps to come forward and expose their rising stars on television and in front of a large live audience against the most established camps in the business (our name fighters and coaches), and give that camp name exposure on every platform. Those are opportunities these camps cannot get with any other organization or on their own.”
One question that has come up time and again from many fans is the availability for IFL fighters to go outside the organization and possibly fight for another promotion. While Otto doesn’t rule out the possibility, it doesn’t sound as if many fighters under long-term contracts are likely to be seen outside of the league.
“We just did it with Tim Kennedy with HDNet Fights,” Otto said about the decision to allow the fighter to work with another promotion. “In this situation we would be open to it, but it would have to be a case-by-case situation.
“With the multi-fight deals for our top guys, obviously we want to ensure that they’re fighting under our umbrella and that they’re not injured in another organization that might have elbows and then throw a monkey wrench to them being successful in our organization, or being suspended or so on if there’s an up-and-coming fight. So we have to be very, very careful about our guys that are under exclusive multi-fight deals.”
There was no announcement of any other camps that could be seen in the IFL this season, but Otto didn’t rule out the possibility of any team coming and challenging the league this year.