Steroids in MMA
Which MMA Fighter Will Test Positive For Steroids Next?

Quote of the Day: Jay Larkin Suicide Watch

From 411Mania via BloodyElbow. Behold, the lament of a broken man:

“The question it all comes down to for me is, is there a market for MMA? Now coming from the boxing world, when I first saw MMA I didn’t like it. I didn’t enjoy watching it. I found it boring and when it wasn’t boring I found it grotesque. Now what I had to do was learn about it. I had to learn more. I had to learn the moves, the players, the disciplines and the different camps and what they meant. The more I learned about it the more I found I enjoyed it and the more I could appreciate the strategies and I have found that for the most part, the fan base out there doesn’t have a clue. Not a clue what they’re seeing, not a clue what they’re watching and therefore they’re almost uniformly attracted to the UFC light show. The dancing girls, the music, the UFC brand and the spectacular job the UFC’s done in creating that brand…

I sincerely question whether or not there is a market place for legitimate MMA outside of the UFC. Now if you look at the card we had at the IZOD center that was spectacular. That was as good as MMA fighting ever gets and it didn’t make a blip on the radar screen. It was difficult selling tickets, the Monday morning reviews of the event were the fights were spectacular but the place wasn’t very full. What does one do to grow the audience? What does one do to sell tickets besides putting on the best show you could possibly put on? And when you put that show on and you still can’t sell tickets well then you have to ask yourself does the public want this? Do they really want fights? Do they want mixed martial arts? Do they want competition at the highest level of the sport? Or do they want to run around wearing their Affliction t-shirts and swigging Xyience. What is this really about? Is there really a fan base for this or is it a cult? And I’ll tell you, as truthfully as I can, I don’t know the answer.”

— Jay Larkin, CEO of the International Fight League

Well, first off, contempt for the audience will get you nowhere — and I’m not sure that the IFL’s fanbase has a smaller percentage of Affliction-wearing, Xyience-swilling meatheads than the UFC’s. Larkin may eventually be proven correct that there’s no mainstream market for MMA outside of the UFC, but I don’t think the failure of the IFL should be held up as proof of his thesis. I can’t speak for the general public, but as an MMA fan, I’ve been excited about recent fights held in the WEC, Strikeforce, EliteXC, and DREAM in a way that I’ve never really felt for matches held in the IFL. I get the sense that a lot of other MMA fans feel the same way, and for me, the reason is because the IFL never succeeded in promoting and building individual stars. EliteXC is Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano. WEC is Urijah Faber. Strikeforce is Frank Shamrock and Cung Le. The IFL, on the other hand, is a questionable camp system where no single fighter is given more attention then his legendary coach. Larkin seems to think that solid matchups between up-and-comers should have been enough to make his league marketable. Am I a fake MMA fan for thinking that personalities create interest, not just talent?

— Ben Goldstein

Cagepotato Comments

Showing 1-25 of comments

Sort by : Show hidden comments
Bert- May 8, 2008 at 2:53 am
Ben Rothwell ranked 10th in the world right now at heavyweight I believe. I think he is also on a 13 fight win streak.
Tonya Evinger's Penis'- May 7, 2008 at 9:28 pm
Jeff may have been exaggerating a bit to make his point, but Joe Son is exaggerated tremendously to say that Jay Hieron would school Jon Fitch. Are you serious? And Matyushenko had his chance in the UFC, and was average, at best. Just because Hieron and Vladdy might be decent fighters doesn't mean they are anywhere near the top. Both would be cut from the UFC within two fights if they fought there. And those are the BEST examples that the IFL has. The rest don't even measure up that high.
Joe Son- May 2, 2008 at 2:42 am
Jeff, I think you're getting carried away. The IFL's production value sucks. But they have some good fighters. Vladdy Matyushenko would beat a lot of dudes in the UFC's 205-lbs division, and Jay Hieron would school somebody like Jon Fitch. Just because they fight in a bullshit league, it doesn't mean they're all bullshit fighters.
Jeff- May 2, 2008 at 1:28 am
That made me laugh a little bit. “As good as MMA fighting ever gets.”? I hope that sentence was cut in half. He clearly meant “As good an MMA card as one could accumulate of the old & washed up or the young and unskilled.” It hurts when you’re an amateur MMA fighter and you sit down and watch the IFL and start cursing, neigh begging, at the guy what to do yet eventually forfeit the idea of him having any clue. Maybe if the guy hadn’t spent the latter part of the week pounding 40’s and telling bar moths how he’s “Gonna be on TV!” or doing monologue for his VH1 coke addict show he could have got in decent condition and made it out of the second round. If UFC was the major league, I’d have a difficult time even calling IFL the minors. More like a “retirement community”. Apparently my Tivo agrees with me. Whenever I try to search for an IFL event it digitally vomits and tells me it's not happening.
Tonya Evinger's Penis- April 29, 2008 at 8:03 pm
Sounds like a lot of sour grapes from the head of a league that most knew would fail from its inception.

I think his depiction of the UFC is just a straw man argument that has nothing to do with the UFC. How does "dancing girls" and a "light show" at all describe the UFC. Much closer to Pride, if you ask me. Then he goes on to beat that straw man down without ever addressing the real reasons why people prefer the UFC.

Larkin says that his last show was "as good as MMA fighting ever gets", but that is far from the truth. That is like wondering why nobody watches the WNBA, because the president of that orginazation feels it is as good as basketball gets.

I don't mean to insult IFL fighters, but most are not anywhere near the top ten in their respective weight classes. That means they aren't really in the top 50 - 70 fighters in the entire sport. Nobody complains that all of the audience is busy watching Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick on center court at Wimbledon, when they should be watching some pre-lim qualifying match at a small tournament between the #62 ranked player and the #74 ranked player on the pro tournament, because that is "as good as tennis gets."

It takes personality and ability to get noticed, but most of it is ability. And the UFC has managed to get the most fighters with the best abilities. Nobody wants to watch something equivalent of semi-pro. When a few other leagues manage to get top ranked fighters, their buzz increases, as well.

Maybe Larkin should consider his inferior product before blaming his failure on an audience entranced by pretty lights.
Aevilgar- April 29, 2008 at 6:50 pm
It saddens me the lack of support for the IFL. They DO put on great shows. But the "team" format I guess is what you don't like. I do realize that in MMA, it is just you and your opponent in the ring, but there is a TEAM of people that help you get there.
And it isn't the IFL that names the teams, it is the gym that names the teams. Militech named his team the Silverbacks, not Jay Larkin.
I have always watched and enjoyed the IFL since it began. But on all the boards all I see is people who don't watch it because they don't like it. But that is just wrong. How can you not like something if you haven't ever seen it? Yet people jump all over the new "DREAM" promotion, even though it is on the OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANET. You get to watch a crappy stream at 4am. I'd rather support a LOCAL promotion, one that puts on shows places I can see it live, or that I can watch LIVE on my HDTV. A 2"x2" video stream just isn't my cup of tea.
I watch all the MMA I can get my eyes on. And still I don't know half the fighters names, whether it be in the UFC, EXC, or IFL. And in MMA it is something like a risky game putting too much stock on one fighter, because they can get injured pretty easily, ie. Chuck Liddel, Shogun, and the long list of other big name fighters who constantly kill your UFC main event by getting hurt. The IFL lets the fighting speak for itself. True fans of MMA would realize this, instead of looking for the"charcter" or "drama" that they miss because they stopped wacthing wrastlin'. The "fans" who boo when a fight goes to the ground are the same "fans" that are going to bury the IFL, EXC, and any other organization that isn't the UFC or sponsored by Affliction.
tim sylvia's pussy- April 29, 2008 at 5:32 pm
i agree that character builds a fan following.. the IFL doesnt promote its stars like other organizations do. and also mma is an individual sport, and the IFL tries way too hard to make it a team thing. the concept just doesnt work. i agree with CP, ive never once been excited about an IFL event like i have for other organizations. although i have seen some great fights in the IFL, i only watch it if there is absolutely nothing else on television.
MrFeexit- April 29, 2008 at 11:19 am
The first thing Larkin should have looked into was how to get a clue. It's true, the IFL has had some good fights, that said I could not give you a single name of any of those fighters. It's not the fighters fault that onerous falls on the promoter. The UFC has done a bang up job of building up a variety of personalites so that everyone can pick a favorite. The IFL...not so much. Like Ron the Don says....complaining won't fix it. No one wants to see a watered down version of the UFC. We want fight leagues that are on par with or at least closely resemble that formula. Bottom line is it works.
Ron The Don- April 29, 2008 at 3:45 am
The IFL's problem all starts with its management. Their failure to promote their young talent and failure to promote their company to the traditional and non-traditional are the reasons they're struggling. Complaining about it won't fix it either.
Joe Son- April 28, 2008 at 11:59 pm
I agree with Baked Potato (wow, so it's come to the point in my life where I'm writing things like that in all seriousness). I didn't think of that before, but yeah, not even just chicks at Super Bowl parties, how many NFL fans, guys with season tickets and decals on their trucks, really understand the 4-3 defense? There are always going to be the afficionados and the casual fans in any sport. You can't just market to the afficionados, but it isn't smart to blame them for not buying tickets either.

I think it's telling that the IFL has been around for, what, two years or so, and they're basically throwing up their hands and blaming the public for their failures. As if, well, we tried this one approach and it didn't work so we're all out of ideas. Instead of looking inward and trying to figure out where they're going wrong, Larkin would rather point the finger at fans, the people he needs most. He doesn't understand us and he can't see why we're not lining up to give him our money. What's worse, he can't see that those two things are connected.
Baked Potato- April 28, 2008 at 11:15 pm
For the love of god, how many NFL or NBA fans do you think REALLY understand the game? Seriously? The talent level has to be there, of course. But how many superbowl parties have you been to where some chick will ask "wait, why is the team in green kicking the ball again? didn't they just make a pass?" If a sport only appeals to the hardcore fan, then they will most certainly have limited reach. Making NFL and NBA jerseys fashion statements rather than uniforms, that's called marketing, and that's appealing beyond the hardcore fan. Has anyone been to an NBA game? Between the t-shirt guns and cheerleaders, house bands, halftime circus shows, there's a whole lot more for the casual fan.

It took David Stern's insight in promoting the characters - Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan - to make it the international sport it is today. You're absolutely right you need to market the stars - guys like Kimbo sell tickets and appeal beyond the hardcore MMA fans.
seaswell- April 28, 2008 at 10:42 pm
@ HB Beachbum: they did get rid of the loony team names and logos - last season.

...but not being up on stuff like that is exactly the point: the IFL doesn't suffer from lack of talent, it suffers from extremely poor marketing decisions. it's painful to watch them misuse their money.

they have tons of up-and-comers (there are three IFL guys in TUF this season) and some great personalities, but they're having trouble simply letting people get to know them... i'm sure a lot of this stems from not having any good TV deals, but a lot of the rest of it stems from not understanding MMA fans and what we want - and that much is clear from larkin's comments.
Squid- April 28, 2008 at 10:38 pm
I can understand where he's coming from. It really is getting harder and harder not to make comparisons between WWE and the UFC, not in flash and dancing girls, but in the way the're trying to make movie stars and celebrities out of there fighters. It's good for business, but I find it makes the fan base a little less involved in the sport side of things, and more into the celebrity apprentice side.

How many of you have seen people write off a great fight as nothing special because they didn't recognize the fighters??
HB Beachbum- April 28, 2008 at 10:22 pm
What a boner... the IFL promotion is as dull as a butter knife. And where are the "dancing girls" in the UFC? He's making excuses for his shortcommings, and looks pathetic in doing so. He say's he comes from boxing... I guess he didn't have enough coin to buy the clue that you have to market the fighters to attract the fans.

But here's a suggestion..PLEASE get rid of the looney toon team names and logos! I mean, when they first stepped on the scene and I saw the "Flaming Dragons" vs. "Big Moose Heads", I thought: "What the hell is this shit! Is WWE makin it's move to MMA."

Even though I've watched very few fights, and there were even less that were actually entertaining.
Bdizzle- April 28, 2008 at 9:24 pm
Besides Jay Hieron and Chris Horodecki who do they have?? Ryan The Lion Schultz. I was at the fight in Vegas, I had the greatest $20 seats but their really was no crowd. The coaches are big names but I wonder how some of the other fighters that were not mentioned would fair in another league. The fighters are too minor leagueish.
James- April 28, 2008 at 8:57 pm
You are dead on in your assumption Ben. I feel the exact same way, that the IFL does nothing to build any stars. They put on good fights, but they don't get any one hyped up about them.
for the love of MMA...- April 28, 2008 at 8:53 pm
I think it takes BOTH talent and personality to create interest.....but is something like 90% talent and 10% interest. And here's the rub......personality is much easier to fabricate then talent. Exposure, promotion, hype..... that's all about creating a personality fans can relate to in some way. And the companies that are good at doing that, like the UFC, will be successful. Shame on the IFL for not being able to promote their talented fighters. Their CEO has missed the point somewhere.