The International Fight League, mixed martial arts’ first team-based promotion, has rounded the corner on its first full season and is holding its 2007 IFL Semifinals on August 2nd at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Four of the IFL’s teams will face off that evening to determine the competitors for the finals, which are scheduled to be held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood Florida on September 20th.
The reigning champions, the LA Anacondas, coached by Shawn Thompkins will take on Pat Miletich‘s Quad City Silverbacks. This pairing pits the two toughest teams from the IFL’s 2006 warm-up season against each other. Today on an IFL press call, I asked each team’s coach which of their teams’ five fights on August second they seeing as being the hardest. Pat Miletich, who responded first, declined to answer the question. Miletich stated that both teams are very well coached, both have very good athletes, and mixed martial arts is just too unpredictable for him to name a fight that concerns him the most. Shawn Thompkins echoed Miletich’s answer, responding that he is just honored to have his team share the ring against one of the toughest coaches in MMA history.
During the call Kurt Otto, the league’s commissioner, stated that the IFL’s belts for their Grand Prix champions, to be determined after the team championships, will be made public next week and that he personally designed the belt. Otto went on, saying that the IFL’s championship belts are the best looking belts in MMA and that fighters will be excited to wear them. I asked how it came about that Kurt Otto came to design the organizations belts, but Otto had already left the conference call. Pat Miletich joked that “[Kurt] designs and builds houses so he made the belt like a duplex, just with a lot of gold on it.”
If anyone out there is local to the Semifinals event in New Jersey, definitely make the trip over to the show. Kurt Otto reiterated that the seats will be inexpensive and the format of the event will reinforce the notion that the IFL is focused on promoting “a sport and not a spectacle”. If you’ve been clamoring for more well-produced local shows, then this is your chance.
Pat Miletich and Shawn Thompkins. Photos courtesy IFL.