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« | Home | »

Quick IFL & PRIDE thoughts

By Zach Arnold | November 12, 2006

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By Zach Arnold

Here’s an odd headline (one of those stories with a “make of it what you will” warning) from Burning Spirit… All the entries for Yuji Shimada’s online blog are gone. Mr. Full (of Burning Spirit) speculates that either Shimada stopped the blog because he didn’t have the time to keep it updated or he wrote something inappropriate and the blog was halted.

On the PRIDE front, Hidehiko Yoshida confirmed his status (positive) for fighting on both the Man Festival & 2/24 Las Vegas events. A couple of weeks ago, DSE teased the idea of Yoshida facing a South Korean judoka. The newest tease is a Man Festival main event of Emelianenko Fedor vs. Hidehiko Yoshida. If that happens, then the chances of Fedor vs. Mirko II happening on 2/24 in Las Vegas would significantly increase. Yoshida’s management, J-ROCK, has significant power in PRIDE right now.

The significance of PRIDE not having their NYE event on Japanese free TV cannot be understated. Even if you believe that the company can draw a successful gate for their 12/31 Saitama Super Arena event, the larger picture is continuing to find investors who will put money into the company. It’s one thing to have a buzz with the hardcore fans, but it’s an entirely different situation when you are on free TV. For an investor, the idea that they are putting money into a company that has some celebrity on television is much more tantalizing than putting money into an operation that isn’t on TV. That’s the critical issue for PRIDE right now in regards to not having a major television deal in Japan. They can run their normal schedule of events for the “big shows,” but the smaller shows will either be eliminated or cut altogether without the Japanese TV money. TV is the #1 factor right now in the fight industry, which is why K-1 still is a player (otherwise, they wouldn’t be at all) in the fight game.

I got a chance to watch the IFL TV show on Fox Sports Net on Sunday night. In my area, it aired at 7 PM. In the past, the IFL shows used to air at 6 PM. It’s hard to track the IFL show down, especially if you don’t know anything about the product. Watching this week’s IFL show, several things stood out to me. Positives: The production values are pretty slick. I like them. The commentating is good (Kenny Rice, Stephen Quadros, and Bas Rutten). The fights were overall pretty entertaining. And the pace of the show (thanks to editing in post-production) seemed quicker than usual. Negatives: Outside of maybe Joe Doerksen, I didn’t know any of the fighters who participated on the show. And I’m a hardcore fan. Imagine a casual fan or a newcomer turning on this show and trying to figure out the names of the different fighters. It comes off, dare I say, like a low-level boxing TV show in that most of the guys you watch fighting you couldn’t name if they were put in a police line-up. One of the more intriguing arguments made by anti-UFC, pro-IFL fans is that the IFL is all about the fighters and UFC is only about the brand-building. To me, the point was hammered home (especially after this week’s TV show) that UFC does a much better job of building up stars and making people care about certain names than the IFL does. Basically every IFL show is 5 team fights with guys you likely haven’t heard of and you don’t hear much about at all in terms of who they are, what they represent, what their personalities are, etc. It’s just a bunch of guys fighting. For all of the heat that UFC takes for supposedly focusing on brand-building first, the IFL could take a few cues from UFC’s marketing team and try to build up some of their fighters through the television show in better ways.

Topics: All Topics, IFL, Japan, Media, MMA, PRIDE, Zach Arnold | 28 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

28 Responses to “Quick IFL & PRIDE thoughts”

  1. KOP The Tame says:

    PRIDE: Yoshida in Vegas = No Gi

    IFL: I am constantly underwhelmed by the IFL. I too am a hardcore fan. I was excited when the UFC signed Tyson Griffin. I knew exactly who Joslin was when it was announced that he will competing in the UFC. These are not big names, but at least I had heard of them. Yet, much like the author of this post, I have not heard of the majority of these IFL guys. It is hard to get behind fighters you haven’t even heard of.

  2. Japanime says:

    why does Fedor vs. Yoshida on NYE increase Fedor vs. CC in Las Vegas?

  3. Luxury Liner says:

    As a hardcore fan myself, I also don’t really care for the IFL. It seems they are doing good things to legitimize the sport and get fighters a stable pay, but there show is VERY hard to track down, and the lack of star power is hurting them. Buying Pride and UFC events has dried up my wallet, and these events plus the free UFC events and TUF on Spike has propelled me to a saturation point with MMA. Unless the IFL gets a better TV deal, along with the WFA, bodog, Strikeforce, ect. I have little interest in pursuing them. KOTC has it correct in promoting smaller events with the focus on the gate because penetrating the American TV market in competition with the UFC is just about impossible at this point.

  4. Jwebb says:

    i hope it isnt Yoshida/Fedor. That would be so gay.

  5. PizzaChef says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Yoshida vs. Fedor. Yoshida is one tough fighter…But I do prefer Josh vs. Fedor. Maybe they are booking Yoshida as another way to lure in a free tv contract and more investors since Yoshida is a big name fighter in Japan?

    As for Mirko fighting in Las Vegas, I don’t think it would happen. I just feel that he’s going to be out for a while and I doubt he would be 100% if he does fight in Vegas.

  6. Zach Arnold says:

    i hope it isnt Yoshida/Fedor. That would be so gay.

    I know you’re going to be shocked, but I could defend PRIDE for booking this as the main event of their 12/31 show. Even if Fedor/Mirko II is the best match they have, at this point they need to draw as many people to the show live as they possibly can. Gaijin vs. Japanese is an easier match to market for them right now than gaijin vs. gaijin. Even in the manner in which Yoshida lost to Mirko in July, he still would bring in casual fans who might not go to the show.

  7. Jwebb says:

    From a marketing perspective, yes it is better.

    Just sucks for mma fans since there are so many other good HW matchups you could make with Fedor right now.

  8. mmaguru says:

    so it looks like more nontitle fights for the pride champs.silva says he wont defend on nye either.1 defense for silva in like 2 years? same for fedor.is the another sport in which a champion gets to sit on titles for this long? what a joke

  9. Chuck says:

    “is the another sport in which a champion gets to sit on titles for this long? what a joke”

    Many pro boxers have gotten away with doing such a practice.

  10. brown bomber says:

    when is fedor going to have a real fight???

    pride is a waste. theyve got this great fighter and they waste the talent on Zulu, Kohsaka, Coleman?????????????????? and now yoshida??? absolute joke

    i wouldnt bet on crocop fighting in lv. the new suddenly improved crocop could have probs with the nsac

  11. mmaguru says:

    i think people are really kidding themselves thinking pride is gonna have all these big title fights in vegas.this is a very longshot considering the nsac rules,the steroid testing and most importantly the financial aspect.newsflash pride does not and have never ever sold many ppv’s they depend on live gate and tv money and sponsorship.well if you lose tv you lose major sponsors also.people were stupidly raving about prides suppose successful attendance at the “real deal” when in truth the live gate is just the appetizer here in america.when was the last time you heard a boxing promoter or ufc declare the event a success based on live gate? never because its the ppv’s that make or break your event.even if all the hardcore fans bought the ppv’s pride would still lose money you have to tap into the casual fans to sell major ppv’s and make money.the fact that we have heard nothing about ppv sales for the “real deal” tells me they flopped.

    i think the reason we wont get any title fights on nye is pride just cant afford it without a tv deal.who’s gonna buy thier ppv’s with k-1 on free tv in japan?

  12. I can see the reasoning behind scaling back the NYE show if they don’t have a tv deal, but i think that’s more planning to the scale of the event rather than because they literally can’t afford it. Pride made a huge mistake in my opinion having their Real Deal show right after the OWGP, because it resulted in several of their main fighters being unwilling or unable to compete in the show. If NYE isn’t going to be as large as planned, PRIDE might be better off creating a purely Japan-based show in order to take care of their live gate and save their big guns for the Febuary USA show. Regarding Fedor vs. Yoshida making Fedor vs Crocop in Las Vegas more likely, it’s because a battle with Josh Barnett Jan 31st largely increases the chances of either Fedor being injured or Fedor not being the champ any more when Feb rolls around. I don’t think anyone is really worried about that if Yoshida is his opponent.

  13. mmaguru says:

    dude THEY ARE NOT GONNA HAVE FEDOR V CROCOP IN VEGAS thats a pipedream.it makes no sense theres to many negatives and pride stands to lose a whole lot more by having wand and fedor defend in vegas.first i see them breaking thier personal record of steroid abusers and you dont have to be a genius to see the monetary problems from such an expensive event on foriegn land.

  14. Mr. Roadblock says:

    I would be against Cop/Fedor II being held in Vegas because of the rules there. Fedor would gain an advantage in that Cop can’t kick him on the ground. Fedor doesn’t really need any more advantages than he already has by being the total package.

    Pride would be smart to try to penetrate England and Europe. UFC is dominating the US scene. Pride has several European fighters.

    Also, I get what you guys are saying about the IFL shows. They are hard to find on FOX Sports and they are largely stacked with unkown fighters. But the shows themselves are good. I think IFL will start to build a solid fanbase. Give them a couple years. They need a few good up and comers and some good talkers and sign them to multi year contracts then build around them.

  15. JThue says:

    “They can run their normal schedule of events for the “big shows,” but the smaller shows will either be eliminated or cut altogether without the Japanese TV money. ”

    Did you, Zach Arnold, just say No TV doesn’t equal DEATH for PRIDE after all, or am I misreading this?

    Yoshida – Fedor sounds uninteresting(pretty close to Coleman-Fedor actually), but anything is better than seeing Barnett forced into another killer fight without enough rest, AND this fight will of course stirr up some more interest and attention in Japan. So when looking at it objectively, it’s thumbs up all the way.

    Will watch the IFL show tomorrow.

  16. The Gaijin says:

    I was pretty sure Silva had been adamant in saying he was defending this MW belt at NYE and wanted to fight Rogerio.

    Has this stance changed in the past couple weeks?

  17. Zach Arnold says:

    “They can run their normal schedule of events for the “big shows,” but the smaller shows will either be eliminated or cut altogether without the Japanese TV money. ”

    Did you, Zach Arnold, just say No TV doesn’t equal DEATH for PRIDE after all, or am I misreading this?

    Not at all. What I said is that if they want to tread water and stay in survival mode for the time being, they need to cut their losses (meaning axing Bushido and scaling down Hustle) and focus only on the bigger shows at this point. Without TV, they cannot afford to run a big schedule (just the bare minimum of shows). And even at that point, they need a lot of help. It’s an awkward position for them to have to rely on the help of others at this point, especially since they have been the top dog for a while.

    I was pretty sure Silva had been adamant in saying he was defending this MW belt at NYE and wanted to fight Rogerio.

    Has this stance changed in the past couple weeks?

    It’s the Japanese side (DSE through the media) indicating they want Silva/Arona III. I’m sure Silva doesn’t mind whatever opponent he faces at this point as long as the money is good.

  18. The Gaijin says:

    Just a counter to your reply Zach:

    Why would DSE be favoring Arona/Silva III?? The fights have been unholy boring and not produced anywhere near the caliber of matchup the fans will want on 12/31 – i.e. a likely decision where it will be a test to see if Silva can stuff the TD’s and keep it in his favor OR if Arona can pin him down and hold him there. Typically not what any fight fans want to see.

    With Silva – Lil Nog its a fresh matchup w/ a top contender, keeps the BTT-CB rivalry storylines going and imho makes for a FAR more EXCITING matchup for the belt (Not likely to see the end bell).

  19. Zach Arnold says:

    I don’t know why DSE would want it. I just know that’s what they seem to be indicating right now. The only reason I could come up with is that they don’t want to run Silva vs. Shogun.

  20. JThue says:

    Travis Wiuff and Brian Foster should really be familiar names to anyone who follows MMA somewhat closely, and yes I do realize what a d*ck I am for feeling the need to point this out :D.

    Another solid show from IFL. Unfamiliar name after unfamiliar name, but that is where the team concept comes in handy. It’s not about “how does this guy rank in the world at his weight”, but “which team has the best welterweight fighter on this night?”. I tried watching some KOTC a few months back, but had to give up after seeing thirty undercard fights of no-namers having slugfests. IFL pulls me in though, because even when a fight is of undeniably awful quality, there’s still something on the line. And I think most who have come to terms with and like the team concept would see it the same way.

    THE negative for me: Early stand-ups. WAY too quickly are the referees bringing the fighters back to their feet. I suspect lack of understanding in some cases, but it is also clear to me that IFL favors stand-up just a little bit too much. They’re half way to WWF Brawl for All rules here, where you get points for the takedown but after that it’s right back up. Or the Fujita vs. boxer dude-fight on NYE a couple of years ago. Takedown, 20 secs to end the fight, STAND UP.

    I absolutely support pressuring the fighters to stay active and work to improve position, but this promotion has gone a bit overboard with these restrictions from what I’ve seen so far, and it got downright ridiculous in some of the fights on this show. How can they promote jiu-jitsu as being part of the action when fighting off one’s back with full guard is constantly treated as stalling, even if limbs and fists are flying everywhere?

  21. The Gaijin says:

    Sorry, just to clarify with my comment Zach.

    I didnt mean to make it sound as though I was challenging your saying DSE was looking to have Silva – Arona III. I was more just looking for your take on why the “eff” they’d *want* to, which you answered anyways!

    But just for me I can’t understand why they wouldnt run Lil Nog – Silva as I couldnt see anyone complaining that its not a great matchup nor that Nog isn’t deserving. To me he’s far more deserving than Arona!

  22. Zach Arnold says:

    I think, maybe in the minds of DSE, that more fans know who Arona is in Japan (especially after the Sakuraba win) than know who Little Nogueira is. *shrugs*

  23. DarthMolen says:

    Heya Folks,
    I cover MMA also for Komikazee.

    I was able to track down their marketing department head and he gave me the scoop on their schedule for the rest of the year…

    http://www.komikazee.com/news/comments/ifl_in_november_on_fsn_and_rogersnet/

    According to them, their site is going through a major re-design so hopefully they will get their act together when it comes to finding more information about their fighters.

    They are new, and are still trying to feel their way around a totally different business model when it comes to MMA. Free TV. Salaried fighters. Tournament style team-work. etc. etc. Hopefully FSN will get off their duffs and learn how to market this comodity they have on their hands…

    One thing I have noticed with every single interview that I have done with the IFL fighters and coaches is the loyalty. I straight up asked one of their promising Light Heavyweights if he would consider going to the UFC if they came knocking and his answer was, “They already came and I said No.”

    You can hear the interview here: http://www.komikazee.com/news/comments/interview_with_ifl_fighter_mike_ciesnolevicz/ If you don’t believe me.

    Now that’s just one of their fighters, no big deal right? Well, the people that are putting the teams together are the coaches. Ex-UFC MMA legends who know something about fighting and know talent. I have asked these same coaches the same thing… And every one of them have been nothing but positive about the IFL and expressed total loyalty. What is it about an organization that can inspire that?

    The quality of the IFL fights are decent, but not spectacular or even close to the quality of UFC or Pride yet. But give them a year or two and with them snapping up all the younger talent with the promise of a more stable career, Where will UFC find their new stars?

    If anything, hopefully it will force the UFC to implement a true farm system and also treat their fighters better, not just the golden boys.

  24. Jwebb says:

    Yoshida is making an appearance on Nippon tv. Wonder if this means there might be some kind of deal

  25. Zach Arnold says:

    N-TV already has NYE’s schedule penciled in. It appears the same with the other big four networks. I guess TV-Asahi is considering airing Doraemon… I would tend to think MMA programming would draw a better rating…

  26. Jwebb says:

    Its still over a moth away. Things may change.

    In the end networks will not want to air doraemon and punt to K-1 and enka.

  27. monkeymatt says:

    Goddamit! I really hope Pride comes through because I can’t take it if I have to watch Akebono stagger through another 3 rounds with Bob Sapp/Chu Hong Man/A Clone of Himself/A Horse with Lasers and Rotating Knives Strapped to its Face.

    Yoshida vs Fedor might actually be a good fight. Fedor showed against Coleman that he doesn’t mind carrying a fighter for a few rounds to flex his skills. If that’s the case we might see some back and forth judo / grappling action if the matchup materialises.

  28. Zach Arnold says:

    Matt – Akebono will likely work a wrestling tag match on the Dynamite show. And I expect it to get over very well.

    In a bizarre kind of way, it could actually help out Japanese pro-wrestling in terms of getting the business a much needed boost of electroshock to wake it up from its current doldrums.

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