Uh Oh, IFL

Written by Tom Ngo
June 10th, 2008

The IFL released a statement Tuesday announcing that due to their current financial situation they have been forced to cancel their August 15th promotion, which was scheduled to take place at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. The struggling MMA organization is believed to be in the red by nearly $32 Million.

The news release stated: “The IFL continues to explore options for maximizing shareholder value. However, if the IFL is unable to successfully leverage any of those options, the company may seek protection from its creditors through a court proceeding.”

The IFL emerged onto the MMA scene roughly two years ago, forcing a manufactured team concept to their fans. The organization made a strategic move in 2008 to make a slight change to that concept by having actual MMA camps to compete against each other, most notably Miletich, Thompkins (Couture) and Quest. Last month, they even changed their ring into a hexagon shape hoping to draw more attention.   

None of these changes were significant enough to consistently attract fans. The company even began to downsize its staff earlier this year in an attempt to reduce costs.

IFL’s CEO, Jay Larkin, held a press conference this afternoon to discuss the organization’s current state, as well as its future.

“We’ve tried to change many things here over the last few months, and to do it on the fly,” Larkin said . “And that’s while we had fully functional events going on. It’s kind of like open heart surgery, while the heart’s beating, while you’re trying to work on it. When I came on (here) I came upon a company that was unique, taking chances. But it was also a company that was in trouble. We haven’t been able to turn that around into a viable product that people want to see,” he added. “(But) the company is running much better than it’s ever run before.”

When asked whether the he believed the organization should go out of business, Larkin was completely against it.

“If the IFL believes the best thing would be to close down, that would be a very bad statement,” Larkin stated. “When you see a number of companies fold up overnight, it really makes you wonder about the fan base. I’ve been here a few months now, we’ve had some successful events, and I base that on the quality of the fighting. However, the current business climate has shown transition will need more time. And our current cash position will not support us going forward.”

Larkin believes that they have the talent to compete in the United States, as well as put on great shows.

“We consider our fighters our primary asset. If we start letting those fighters get cherry picked, there won’t be much left here,” he said. “Selling off the pieces bit by bit, I think would be a last gasp effort on our part. Shannon Knapp and Bas (Rutten) will try and place them in different promotions. We are working with other organizations that are very interested in our top guys. Many will remain under the IFL contract. If we can complete a transaction that will enable us to continue our business, then they will be able to have their fights under us.”

Larkin did address the issue as to why the IFL and many other organizations have struggled to compete against MMA powerhouse, the UFC.

“I have my theories, and some may not be the kind of thing people want to hear. I think that there is a halo effect over the UFC, and there are fans of the UFC who are not necessarily fans of MMA,” he said. “But they appreciate the UFC product, and not necessarily the quality of the fights. They have good nights and bad nights like everyone else. I believe there is an element of the fan base that believes if it’s not the UFC, it’s crap. And that makes it very difficult to operate in a business environment.”

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