Friday, February 2, 2007

IFL hopes to deliver a knockout at Reliant

Team-based mixed martial arts hits Houston Friday night, as the International Fight League hosts an 11-bout card at Reliant Arena.

The fledgling IFL was launched in January 2006 by a real estate developer and magazine publisher, with eight teams competing in an abbreviated inaugural season. The league — the only team-oriented promotion in this traditionally individual sport — expanded to 12 teams this year for its first full season.

Friday night's IFL event is the first of two major MMA shows scheduled in Houston this year. The more established Ultimate Fighting Championship will make its Texas debut at Toyota Center in April.

"Many of the athletes you'll see in the IFL are above the caliber of the fighters you'll see on many of the UFC cards," said MMA pioneer and former UFC champion Pat Miletich. "I've had many world champions in the UFC, and I'll tell you, the IFL guys in my group are the young studs and the up-and-comers in my gym. They can hang with all the best fighters I've got in the UFC."

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