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Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Gamble:

The Gamble:
Home Viewers Get a First Peak at the International Fight League Tonight on FOX Sports Network
by Derek Callahan

On the surface, the difference between the International Fight League and other rookie MMA organizations looks like it’s just a much greener show. Not necessarily more inexperienced, but just infused with a lot more money. According to one half of the two-man team behind the show, that isn’t necessarily the case. The difference between the IFL and others may start with better funding, but that doesn’t mean much if it isn’t invested in different ideas, and consistent quality.

Gareb Shamus
Gareb Shamus

"It’s an incredible collaboration, we wanted to take the best of everything," says Gareb Shamus, a businessman who made his name with the Wizard Entertainment group, a comic book and popular culture media empire. "We want to create a quality product in everything that we do. That’s what stands the test of time."

From the coaches, to the fighters, all the way to the crew that will air "The International Fight League" starting tonight on the FOX Sports Network, Shamus concludes that everyone must be on top of their game in order to make the show work. To Shamus, the long-term investment in MMA that they have showed is a big reason for their broadcast success. The IFL had Fox Sports all aboard before they even put on an event. "That’s the kind of commitment we’ve put into the sport, we were able to convince Fox," he says.

From the results of their first show, Shamus was pleased with how it unfolded. "We couldn’t have expected that action," he says, citing all the different ways that the fights were finished. "We had to deliver the show the first time out of the gate. We had couple of upsets. When people see what it looks like on TV, I think they’ll be very impressed."

Shamus is a man who, through his work with Wizard, has grown accustomed to the type of people that go to fights. So, when his friend Kurt Otto approached him with the idea of coming into the sport, it seemed like a logical move. "He started telling me about it and it just really clicked. He brought it to my attention and I was thinking, ‘This is my audience.’" The 18 to 34 year olds that the IFL is shooting for have long been studied through Shamus’ previous investments.

"If you look at the similarities between the sport and the marketing I do, it’s very similar," he says. "I know that audience, how companies want to reach them. And also how that audience wants to be reached." The precedent set by the success of "The Ultimate Fighter" on Spike TV augurs well for the IFL, because the ratings were proven to be potentially there well before a show was produced. Now that the company is active and underway, the efficient crew that Shamus demands siphons all the way up to Otto and himself.

Lindland and Jackson sign contracts as WFA promoters Goodman and Palazzo look on
Gareb Shamus overseeing things at IFL’s inaugural event with partner Kurt Otto

From the side of the fans, "I know how to put on big events, how to get people excited about being in the same place at the same time," says Shamus. It was only logical for him to team up with Otto on the project that targets his longtime audience. Shamus also befits the notion that, of course, a man mired in the business of celebrities and superheroes could draw parallels to MMA; if for no other reason, than because, "as far as I’m concerned a lot of the guys are celebrities, and they are superheroes."

With a new season set to start next year, complete with a new series of coaches, the IFL looks to continue the team aspect of their show because of the added element that Shamus and others feel it adds. "We wanted to be different, we didn’t want to just take advantage of what other people have done. We don’t need to," he says. By, "working with a lot of people in the industry, including the coaches," the brass at the IFL is confident enough in their knowledge of the game to try and push the envelope with future shows.

"We have ourselves under the microscope," says Shamus, referencing their first shot at the industry. "Even as the show went on there are things we were changing, things internally. In terms of pacing, what we do before, after the fights." A final part of the differences the IFL seek is the idea that going hand-in-hand with the right companies will lend a certain juice to their show that others lack.

"We have relationships with very large companies. It’s all relationships that I’ve already worked on in my past," says Shamus. Associations to Coke, X-Box and other groups that aim for that coveted 18-to-34 demographic will put the IFL on a separate pedestal based on how marketing works. The money put into the IFL helps the overall quality of the product; the team-oriented atmosphere separates it from other shows that have helped to steer the MMA market towards saturation, and relationships with companies that share their interests make for airtight marketing. Above all else though, the IFL is getting their licks in before they settle into a seasonal routine that will see some new fighters and new coaches.

"We’re setting the ground stage so when we get into our first full season everyone will be on the same page and everyone’s interests are aligned," says Shamus. If and when that happens, all these ideas, previously almost foreign to MMA, will become less and less of a gamble.

"The International Fight League" debuts tonight on the FOX Sports Network. Check local listings for times.

Storm Samurai Sold Out for Tonight
By Eduardo Alonso

Almost everything is set for another interesting edition of Storm Samurai tonight in the city of Curitiba, hometown of Chute Boxe. Almost, because at the official weigh-ins, on Saturday, May 20th, at 11 am, some fighters weren’t able to attend for various reasons, therefore their weights had to be taken later on. However, most of the fighters were on hand and made weight properly, and nothing will hinder the show at the house of spectacles Master Hall, starting at 6 pm local time, as all the fights are on and by the time this article was finished all fighters who missed the official weigh-ins had been already contacted and had things set for a different time.

One of the most important attractions of the show, IFL veteran Gustavo Ximu was one of the fighters who couldn’t attend the official weigh-ins. Ximu and his cornerman, UFC fighter Marcio "Pe de Pano" Cruz had problems with their flight to Curitiba, causing them to arrive in the city at 2:30 PM. However, Ximu told FCF he wouldn’t have any problems making weight at 83 kg for the bout. Expectations are running high for Ximu’s bout against Meca veteran Marcelo Brito, as well as for the participation of Chute Boxe young guns Fernando Bettega, Fabio Silva and Michael Costa, not to mention the women’s bout between Cristiane "Cyborg," fianc

posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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