IFL Taps Out

July 25, 2008

While it was long expected, official word came Thursday of the demise of the International Fight League. Joe Favorito, IFL’s Senior VP of communications, contacted the press with the final word. To Wit:

I apologize for this mass email but I wanted to take a second to let you know that as of July 31 my role at the IFL will be no more as the company goes into its final stage of being sold and/or closed down. We are very proud of what we did here in just over two years, building a brand from nothing into something that people in the industry and outside of the industry actually noticed, and I enjoyed working with so many different people and helped tell some great stories. At the end of the day sometimes the finances don’t make sense, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. The good news is I think we have gotten all our good junior people placed in some great spots, so we are pretty proud of that. Even our interns landed in good places.

While he didn’t explicitly name the suitor, MMAPayout.com has reported earlier that the UFC was deep in negotiations to buy the IFL and since that time the UFC has purchased the contracts of the Miller brothers.

Brandweek succinctly made the case for the financial nosedive that precipitated the announcement:

Although financial figures were not disclosed, analysts put the IFL’s market value at $1 million at best. …… After an IPO stock offering in late 2006, analysts put IFL’s value at more than $500 million.

In late 2007, however, co-founder and CEO Gareb Shamus …..was moved to a role as consultant and was replaced by Jay Larkin, the IFL’s president and COO. This year, the IFL’s concept of having five-man teams and playoffs was scrapped in favor of “camp” alignments. IFL stock also dropped from a high of $12 per share to about 3 cents.

To paraphrase the old saying, The IFL made a small fortune in their time…… in that they took a big fortune and through mismanagement and bad decisions turned it into a small one. Jay Larkin made all the right financial move during his tenure as head of the IFL, but by that time the die had been cast.

If Larkin has a non-compete clause in his contract that would preclude him from any further role in MMA for an extended time period. Industry chatter prior to the UFC negotiations had EliteXC also being a suitor, with acquiring Larkin’s acumen at the executive level being seen as one positive for ProElite possibly making a deal, in addition to the tape library and fighter contracts.

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