Tuesday, March 13, 2007

IFL Battleground Premiers To...911?

By Ken Pishna

"I think my guys are ready to fight to the death for their team and that's what I think it's all about." These infamous words kicked off the premier episode of IFL Battleground on MyNetworkTV.

Then they cut to several high-paced, action-packed fight clips that culminated in Wes Sims being rear naked choked by Daniel Gracie… with a sound-over of a heart beat that flatlined as Sims went unconscious.

This is the point at which I thought to myself, “Oh no!” But I wasn’t quite ready to walk out onto the ledge.

Battleground continued with a few too many “face pounding” and “bone crunching” references for my taste, but hey, we’ve finally got MMA on network television, so we can let it slide, right?

That’s when, at about ten minutes into the program, the black and white footage of Ryan Schultz being loaded onto a backboard aired to Mr. Announcer Man’s assurances that “someone will leave the ring tonight… on a stretcher.”

The “leave the ring on a stretcher” promo continued in various incarnations throughout the night, no less than eight times by my count. One such promo actually cut in footage of IFL CEO Kurt Otto questioning a live crowd, “What’d you come to see?” The next moment they were cutting back to the footage of Schultz on a stretcher with a woman’s voice-over questioning, “911, what’s your emergency?”

All of this makes my next complaint pale in comparison. Now, I’ve complained before about fights not being aired in their entirety on the IFL’s telecasts on FSN, but I do know that it’s a time constraint situation that they’re forced to deal with, so I can live with it. But on a two-hour program, not only were fights not shown in their entirety, most 4-minute rounds were edited down to 2 minutes and some change. The worst of it was that the rounds were edited in such a fashion that they appeared to be complete rounds, not highlights, and in my mind were presented as such.

I have a pulpit from which to voice my complaints, pretty much whenever I see fit. Just like I did hear, but instead of me continuing my ranting and raving, I thought I’d fire up my handy-dandy web browser to surf around and see if I was being a bit too harsh.

After a few minutes of sifting through the hundreds of posts that lit up the message boards within minutes of the IFL Battleground premier, my complaints appeared weak… wimpy even.

Following is a small sampling of what I found. Hopefully the IFL is listening in because, if they are not, they may be making that 911 call for real.

“I know it is a combat sport, but the presentation I just saw in the first 15 minutes is setting the sport back. The sound effects of a flat liner heart rate as a guy is choked unconscious, 'somebody is gonna leave on a stretcher' comment by the announcer. ‘Bone breaking, blood splattering, etc.’ No indication of the skill involved, just Team Toughman. 'Unchecked aggression!!!' Unchecked? Not checked by tactics or skill?" – Rollo the Cat, MMAWeekly.com

"They are also trying to market this as ultimate boxing. Where are the submissions? This will be a lot of peoples 1st time exposure to the sport. Not a very good for 1st impression or explanation of the sport." – Mondai, MMAWeekly.com

"I think I'm a bit disappointed because I was expecting something the tone and style of their FSN style, but two hours long, so they could show all the fight and some more behind-the-scenes stuff." – Totalshock, sherdog.net

"Is this the marketing for UFC I? What year is this? I usually love mixed martial arts but I would be embarrassed to recommend this show to friends of mine." – JInJackson, mma.tv

"I thought it was messed up to promote MMA with ‘someone will leave on a stretcher.’ It doesn't just reflect poorly in the IFL, it reflects poorly on established companies like the UFC that have done a lot to change the "bloodsport" image of MMA... this new company comes in and promotes it like wrestling."

"The start of it sounded like pro wrestling. Very bad for the sport talking about killing and calling 911. Let them know so they can change it. It was the first time I have ever turned an MMA show off." – travenbjj, mma.tv

"I've always liked IFL because it was trying to convey MMA as professional, but this is just repulsive. Even Elite XC didn't stoop this low and I couldn't stand watching that." – RuleDogg, mma.tv

"I've seen IFL fights broadcast on the local Fox Sports channels and it was NOTHING like the train wreck I watched tonight." – lessQQmorePewPew, mma.tv

"They turned MMA into an episode of Rescue 911." – MCHammer, mma.tv

"I just took all mention of them off my Myspace page. I'm embarrassed that I told people to watch this." – Dead Again, mma.tv

"Bas Rutten should be ashamed for being in this. IFL = Horrrrrrrrible." – Spencaaa, mma.tv

"...this is not the way I'd like to see the sport promoted. Stick around so you can see someone taken out in a stretcher? C'mon..........I'd much rather stick around and watch the great fights and fighters. Low class promotion if you ask me. It's just as bad as the stupid Xyience commercials or :30 sec of a hot chick commercials that Spike does." – Meers311, sherdog.net

"This is a huge step backward and I can't believe that at this point in the sport's history there are promotions out there that are trying to promote the sport this way." – Rickmassmma, mma.tv

"I don’t much care for that type of promoting for the sport, I can already hear a news report playing that beep beeeeeeeeeeeeep and the 911 call to bash the sport. They must be trying hard to pull in the WWE audience who hear that kind of garbage from the WWE all the time. Don’t get me wrong though, I do enjoy the IFL and will still be supporting it (even on mute if I have to)." – Senor WhiteBelt, sherdog.net

"No clock? Compressed/edited fights? This is lame. No ground? Poor representation of MMA. Terrible." – Upa, mma.tv

"...really disgusting and hypocritical. Isn't this the organization that banned elbows because they were too violent?? Stupid, shortsighted and insulting to the fighters, promoters, organizations and fans that have struggled to help the sport gain legitimacy." – TeamCup, mma.tv

"IFL has a website at http://www.ifl.tv/ where you can provide feedback, and I assure they read it. Everyone should constructively let them know that the stretcher/911 bit is seriously detracting from the product. I have a feeling they won't make that mistake twice." – Submystic, sherdog.net

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