An Afternoon With The Pitbulls
An Afternoon with the Pitbulls
Report by Jim Genia
(Tuesday, August 29th, New York City) Atop the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, on a flight deck populated with decommissioned Cobra attack helicopters and dormant F-16s, Renzo Gracie smiles. In less than a month he’ll face fellow legend Pat Miletich in the ring, but for now it’s all about the International Fight League’s film crew getting video of him and his team, acting natural as they stroll around the aircraft carrier parked in the waters off Manhattan’s West Side. September 23rd will mark the fourth IFL event (the MMA promotion that pits team against team), and while Moline, Illinios isn’t all that close to the Big Apple, that’s where the New York-based Pitbulls will be squaring off against Miletich’s Silverbacks. It promises to be a night of hard-fought battles.
Between takes everyone halts and waits for the cameraman to give new instructions. In the meantime, the Pitbulls make jokes and laugh, and stand for pictures with curious tourists.
"I feel good," says the upbeat and amiable Gracie when asked how his training is coming along.
Flanked by the likes of Marcio Feitosa, Fabio Leopoldo, Delson Heleno and Carlos Cline, the Brazilian has definitely filled his roster with tough guys. Yet one can’t help but stare at the latest addition to the team, the grappling behemoth Bryan Vetell. A former Greco-Roman champ, Vetell will be cutting weight from 290 pounds to get down to 265, and he’ll be taking on the very experienced striker Ben Rothwell. It’s a tall order for the big man. Will he be ready?
"This is my shot," says Vetell, who’s training six days a week — working on his boxing, grappling and conditioning — in preparation for the man who scored a TKO win at the last IFL event. "This is my chance to do well at the echelon of competition I want to be at. I mean, every day I train with guys that are already at that level [at Renzo Gracie's Academy], so it’s not like I won’t be going in there ready."
Vetell’s thoughts on Rothwell? "He’s a very experienced guy, coming from an awesome team in the Midwest. I don’t know what I think other than for me it’ll be my wrestling and my ground game, and for him it’ll be his striking and his overhand right."
They pause before an old A-12 Blackbird. They stand under the American flags flapping in the wind. They pretend to read up on the design specs of an F-8K Crusader, all while the cameras roll, capturing the Pitbulls in their natural habitat of New York City. On September 23rd, two IFL teams will clash with Gracie and some of his best fighters at the forefront. But for now, it’s all about the photo op.
From the event’s promoter:
INTERNATIONAL FIGHT LEAGUE (IFL) AND FOX SPORTS NET TRIPLE AIR TIME FOR IFL TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS THIS FALL
Overwhelming ratings success from the spring leads to an additional 10 hours of programming for the fall
NEW YORK, August 28, 2006 — The International Fight League (IFL) and Fox Sports Net (FSN), a division of the FOX Broadcasting Company and News Corp, today announced the addition of 10 hours of broadcasting time for the IFL World Team Championship, which will be held on four dates this fall. This marks a significant increase from the three hours FSN carried for the initial events this past spring. The IFL, the world’s first mixed martial arts league in a team format, will launch its first full season in the first quarter of 2007.
"The audience numbers that the IFL was able to generate in the spring were extremely impressive, and reflect the amazing growth not just of interest in MMA, but in the IFL as a television property," said Michael Feller, FSN Vice President of Programming. "This additional 10 hours for the fall is a reflection of our belief in the product in a time slot which will be very effective for our business partners, our audience and the sport."
"We are very excited to be able to return to FSN for our fall World Team Championships," said IFL president Gareb Shamus. "Our free TV broadcasts on FSN, showed that millions of MMA fans were excited about the IFL’s quality sports and entertainment programming. We believe this success is just the beginning. Our fans can’t wait to see our new 8 team single elimination tournament in its entirety."
FSN will break each of the IFL fall live events up into a series of one hour shows to be broadcast in a set Sunday night time slot beginning on Sunday, September 24 at 6:00pm. FSN will also produce a special two hour "Best Damn Sports Show Period" featuring the IFL on Monday, October 2 at 8:00 p.m. and a two hour special on New Year’s Eve at a time TBD. The complete broadcast schedule will follow.
IFL’s televised shows are produced and directed by Emmy award-winning producer Peter Lasser, who has worked on several Olympic telecasts as well as with ESPN, NBC Sports, NFL Films and FSN, among others.
The fall IFL broadcast schedule on FOX Sports Net will be:
Sunday, September 24 6:00*
*- Featuring matches from Sept. 9 Portland, Ore. event
About the International Fight League:
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