Think there is nothing new in the sports world? Think again. With the purchase of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) by Dana White and subsequent transformation of the sport from a bare-knuckles, no-rules spectacle to a much more organized promotion with a redesigned set of rules to make it more palatable, the UFC has hit mainstream. Spike TV bought into the programming which was turned down by both HBO and Showtime and has resulted in a ratings bonanza for Spike.
The next-generation has arrived – the International Fight League. The IFL takes something that was always in the background of UFC, K1, and Pride Fighting Championships and brings it to the forefront with a twist… the concept of teams. For years, fighters have entered the rings and octagon wearing clothing from such training centers as TapOut, Full Contact Fighter, Miletich Training Systems and more. Now, they have taken the traditional team sports model and added it to MMA (mixed martial arts) fighting.
A league consisting of eight teams with names like Anacondas, Silverbacks, Dragons, and Wolfpack. The coaches are a who’s who of MMA – Pat Miletich, Bas Rutten (one of my all-time favorites), Frank Shamrock, and more. If you watch all of these different promotions, you know that the top fighters float between them all and the IFL is no different. While the rosters aren’t yet made up of the cream of the MMA crop… there are some standout names and I am guessing that if the league succeeds, you will see the Chuck Liddells and Rich Franklins showing up soon.