By Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
The commissioner of the IFL, Kurt Otto, is a very busy man. He and his partner Gareb Shamus have single-handedly started up the first team mixed martial arts promotion in America. In the IFL’s short tenure, they have put on fantastic shows and have built up some terrific fighters. The list of coaches they have on their roster are all pioneers or current superstars in mixed martial arts. They have coaches such as Ken Shamrock, Pat Miletich, Maurice Smith, Marco Ruas, Renzo Gracie, Matt Lindland, Frank Shamrock and Dan Henderson to name a few.
While the UFC is the premier promotion in MMA, Otto doesn’t agree with some of the business practices of the UFC. Hermes Franca released a statement to MMAWeekly last week explaining his use of steroids. In a nutshell, Hermes explained that he was injured prior to his fight with Sean Sherk. According to his account, he called the UFC to let them know, and they told him it would be tough to push the fight back. Franca explained that he needs to fight in order to feed his family. “I think the sitution with Hermes is sad. He called and they said that they had a show to put on. In our organization, if you’re injured, you still get paid and someone will step up.”
Kurt Otto has also been busy with some big plans for the IFL in the upcoming months. After the semi-finals next weekend, he announced some upcoming plans for the IFL including the participants in the IFL Grand Prix.
A rematch many fans have been clamoring for is between Chris Horodecki and Bart Palaszewski. Their last fight was a candidate for fight of the year. Both put it all on the line, but Horodecki walked away with a split decision. Kurt Otto talked with MMAWeekly about a possible rematch. “Do you think we’d want to put that fight on? It would be smart of us to do that. I’m not gonna let our fans down.”
Next week, the four semi-finalist teams will be fighting to secure their place in the finals. The Sabres led by Ken Yasuda will take on Renzo Gracie’s Pitbulls. In the other bracket, what could possibly be the most anticipated team match up this season, Sean Tompkins’ Anacondas will take on Pat Miletich’s Silverbacks. Even with Chris Horodecki and Jay Hieron missing for the lineup, it’s sure to be a barn burner. “This is the four best teams we have in the entire organization,” exclaimed Otto.
The most interesting news that came from Kurt Otto is his soon-to-be-announcement of the new steroid policy that will be instituted in 2008. “In ’08, we are going to start testing,” Otto said. “Fortunately, we haven’t had an issue. In ’08, we are implementing a pretty cool system, that will be enforced. It’s pretty cool.”
While the details are sketchy, the steroid policy will probably be a little more on the extreme side. Otto didn’t allow any specific details, but he did explain the basics. “I’m going to be announcing the full program and how it’s gonna work. It’s something we’re gonna be taking extremely serious. It’s no fooling around. It’s pretty much zero tolerance.”
The whole MMA scene has been crazy the past week after Sean Sherk and Hermes Franca had tested positive for steroids. Kurt Otto had his own opinions on this. “In football, I can see a lineman doing it. But not in this sport. You need to be lean and mean, and it’s not helping anyone.”