* GOALS: Our goals for 2008 are very clear: o To put the best possible matchups from the best possible camps head to head on live television on a regular basis, and showcase our individual champions to answer any doubt as to how good the best fighters from these camps are. o By doing this, we will grow our live gate, create more opportunities for our business partners and give the fans a great night of live action in some of the best venues possible. * CAMPS: We will transition from the “teams” (Silverbacks, Lions, Condors, etc.) nomenclature to a more open and fluid camp matchup system. The camps remain the essence of the IFL plan, and as already discussed, those camps that have already been most successful will continue on in the IFL. The nine camps that will form the base for 2008 remain some of the biggest names in the sport…Pat Miletich, Renzo Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Matt Lindland, Bas Rutten, Marco Ruas and a group managed by a Chicago-area coach. We will add Mario Sperry’s WorldClass MMA camp out of Las Vegas and Ian Freeman’s group from the UK. This will give us a consistent presence in all the MMA hotbeds…Southern California, Las Vegas, the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest and New York…to do local promotions and sponsorship opportunities as well as build-ups for the event matchups.
* Additionally, although we have released Maurice Smith, Carlos Newton, Don Frye and Frank Shamrock from their full-time coaching obligations, we will keep an open door policy so that if they had a camp that would like to challenge an IFL team, we would welcome that. We will also continue to use Don Frye in our work with the USO and in some of his very well received online segments and Don is very pleased with that arrangement.
* HOW MANY TIMES WILL CAMPS COMPETE? Each of the nine camps will compete a minimum of three times during 2008, with the camp to camp matchups pair up to ensure the best action and matchups.
* HOW MANY EVENTS? We will have eight events as the base for 2008, with four camps competing on each night. The camps will have a minimum of three fighters competing on that night, matched up against another camp. However we will keep it fluid so if the matchups can have as many as six good matchups, we will have six matchups. We will also work with the coaches to come up with the best possible matchups per camp. There will be flexibility, so that if a camp has two good athletes in any weight class they can have two matchups in that class. This way we will avoid having coaches to choose between two strong lightweights, provided the other camp also has two strong lightweights.
* TITLE DEFENSES: The other key element for each event will be the title defenses. With a minimum of two title defenses per event as the headliners, we will be able to give the fans, TV partners and business partner’s tremendous added value in each event. Everyone will get to see individual titles on the line at each event, as well as the best that each camp has to offer. It gives the “best of both worlds,” the camps and the individual champions, on the card the same night. The title defenses can either be existing athletes or a “one off” from another organization or a “free agent” matchup of a fighter available not signed to an organization. It is fluidity that no other organization has.
* MINIMUM NUMBER OF FIGHTS ON A CARD: Those title defenses will be outside or inside of the camp vs. camp matchup, which means fans will get to see a minimum of eight fights per card (six camp matchups and two title defenses on each card).
* BUILDING STARS: As far as marquee athletes, we will have signed our key athletes to multi-fight deals for 2008 and beyond. That gives us consistency of brand should an upset occur. We also have the ability for both the coaches and for the IFL to go outside that core group to fill cards and challenges with “one-off” fights…athletes who are free agents or up and comers to whom the coaches want to give a shot. This way we are not tied into a full set of athletes who are not at the top of the sport for a long period of time. You reward the best and build the stars who succeed.
* HOW ARE CAMP WINNERS DETERMINED? The winner of the camp vs. camp matchup will be determined by overall wins against the camp (2-1 for example).
* WHERE WILL THE EVENTS BE? The eight events will be held in three locations: The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. and the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. This gives us an opportunity to adequately promote, build a following and create consistency for our events for business partners and television partners, as well as for the arenas. The one-off system we tried in 2007 spread us too thin, and we feel to have the best possible product to build off of in 2008, we will start with these three arenas.
* WILL YOU ADD EVENTS? We are open to adding more events in such places as Texas, Illinois, California and the Pacific Northwest if it makes sense to, but right now we feel the eight events in these three strategic locations make the most sense. We have been approached to also do events outside of the United States and are considering a few one-off events, but only if it makes good financial and brand building sense for the long term.
* WHEN WILL IT START AND WHERE? We will open 2008 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Friday, February 29. We will announce the dates, basically one a month, in the coming weeks, as well as the matchups for event number one. Based on that we will announce the lineups for each event roughly 60 days in advance, to give the fans, the athletes and the coaches ample time to prepare. All our eight dates will be on Friday nights, going through the beginning of January 2008.
* WILL THERE BE A CHAMPIONSHIP LIKE LAST YEAR? With regard to the season-ending events, our goal is to put the best camps against each other throughout the year, and that includes an open invitation outside of the non-IFL camps at this point to come forward with a solid group to compete as a one off. As we progress through, the top camps will rise and it will make it clear as to which camps will be the best for challenges, which we believe will lead to matchups to determine ultimately which camp is best. That will be part of the drama and the debate throughout the year, which will build over time.
* WHAT IS THE STATUS OF TV? With regard to live television, our goal remains to be live every event, with taped programming of those matchups not live filling the weeks between the live events. As you are now aware, we will be working with HDNet for our December 29 event, and are very excited about that opportunity. We are talking to several outlets about the Friday night events live as well as some taped series. The IFL was the highest rated show for MyNetwork on a weekly basis, especially in the male demo, and their advertising response was well above what was anticipated, but they are unsure of what their lineups will include. We will also continue our weekly relationship of taped programming with FSN, which has seen an increase of over 20% in viewership in both the Friday and Sunday night timeslots. We expect to announce our full television schedule in January. The demand for our programming is growing both internationally and domestically, and we want to be on as many platforms as possible with our brand.
* WHAT ABOUT ONLINE? We are also working on a multi-tiered digital platform that can provide streaming and other options for 2008, not just in the United States but abroad as well. We recently announced a revenue sharing deal with YouTube that is already going very well, and we are working on several other similar deals with sites that will be announced in the coming weeks.
* WHAT ABOUT PAY-PER-VIEW? We do not anticipate doing a pay-per-view event until it makes good financial sense for all involved, including the athletes. Our goal remains to build marketshare through free television and basic cable. However if the right partners came along, we have the flexibility to do something that would make sense for the sport and for the fans.
* WILL YOU WORK WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS OR JUST IFL FIGHTERS? We are also open to working with any and all organizations to put the best matchups together for the fans. That is the beauty of the system and the schedule that we have now set up and revealed here today. If there is a camp that is comprised of athletes from another organization anywhere around the globe and the matchups 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.
* WHY WOULD A NON-IFL CAMP COME IN FOR A ONE-OFF EVENT? 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.
* WHY WOULD ATHLETES CHOOSE THE IFL? We will also set up a pay structure that rewards those who are successful in our system and will keep them fighting in the IFL for a long time to come. Our combination of compensation structure for multiple fights, incentives for wins and title defenses, and the ability to sell sponsorship that can be seen on TV worldwide with our help…not to mention the publicity opportunities we have created for our coaches and athletes…will make the IFL a destination for top talent for the long term for those who can be successful in the ring.
* WHAT ABOUT THE GRAND PRIX? Right now we think the title defense system each and every night will be the de-facto Grand Prix. As we have said we are remaining fluid as the year goes on to create a special event if needed, but the goal is to make every card as action packed as possible.