The IFL has officially canceled their August 15 event in New Jersey as of today. Jay Larkin told reporters in today’s media conference call that the next event had been called off because “to do an event in August would put the company in jeopardy. …Had we continued with the August event we would have run out of cash.”
We’ve all known for some time that things were grim at the IFL, so this isn’t exactly a surprise. But this latest announcement, coupled with the morose tone sounded by Larkin on today’s call, suggests that there is very little hope left within the IFL that things will eventually turn around.
“Despite what some say, this has not been a good day for the sport, the fighters, or the fans,” said Larkin, who went on to speculate once more about whether there was a real market for MMA outside of the UFC. “When you look at the number of companies that spring up and fold overnight, it makes you wonder about the fan base.”
Larkin also said the IFL would be downsizing its staff to cut costs. While he said they did not want to release fighters as part of that downsizing, he acknowledged their willingness to work with other promotions who were interested in their fighters, and said he would deal with that on a case-by-case basis, but he didn’t want to “hold anyone back from a good opportunity.”
Larkin also noted that there were more members of the media on this call than he could recall for any other IFL conference call, which he described as “interesting.”
While answering questions about the IFL and the state of MMA, Larkin also discussed the Elite XC event on CBS, which he described as “a draw.” The show did well in ratings, he said, but was panned by fans as well as some of the very same reporters he was talking to.
He asserted that the IFL put on better fights than Elite XC, but hadn’t managed that type of success, and he mentioned several times the need for MMA organizations to work together in the future, saying that he hoped that might happen with the IFL and Elite XC.
This might not spell the absolute death of the IFL, but it certainly doesn’t look good. Larkin insinuated that fans don’t care passionately enough about MMA, saying that he went to a Boxing Hall of Fame event that brought tears to his eyes, but didn’t know of anyone who felt that way about MMA.
It seems as if the IFL’s plan is to scale back their operation, suspend all events, and try to leverage their video library and digital rights. Larkin said they’d been in talks with everyone from media companies and film studios and celebrities about buying or investing in the IFL, and that they had indeed “turned over a forest of rocks” looking for financial salvation, but to no avail.
Said Larkin about continued operations, “We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”