Wednesday, March 14, 2007


By Ken Pishna

An obviously humbled Kurt Otto, Commissioner of the International Fight League, took to the airwaves of MMAWeekly Radio last night and not only faced the firestorm of criticism following the IFL’s debut on network television, but apologized to the fans, athletes and coaches that were disappointed with the initial episode of IFL Battleground on MyNetworkTV:

“I would like to apologize on behalf of the IFL and MyNetwork if we upset or disappointed anybody in the MMA world. We’re all about MMA being seen in a positive light. In this instance, we dropped the ball and we promise to make everybody proud. We realize as a group that we made a mistake with some parts of the show, but we will learn from this and grow. We want to make this the best possible platform for the sport as possible. The IFL would also like to apologize to our athletes and our coaches. We promise that it will be corrected and we as a group will learn from this.”

Otto realized that a huge mistake was made and didn’t shy away from facing it. “I look at an organization like the UFC and they have really accomplished some unbelievable things and I don’t want this to be viewed as something that sets the sport back five or ten years. I really think that’s making a mountain out of a molehill. I think the sensationalism that occurred on the show last night was overdone. It was not our intention to upset anybody. This was a decision that was made and it was shown,” said Otto.

He continued by explaining a little bit about the dynamics of how the more upsetting moments of IFL Battleground, such as the constant promo of a fighter leaving on a stretcher made it to air. “It was made as a group. Sometimes as a group we debate each other on certain views or style or design or how it’s produced… If we respect each other’s opinions, sometimes we have to take risks. Ultimately, it probably backfired. But as a group, meaning IFL and MyNetwork, we made a mistake and we’re going to correct it.”

Otto was clear to point out that IFL Battleground is a docu-drama type of show, not like the FSN shows that were designed to be fight shows in a traditional sports manner. But he also was clear that what took place on IFL Battleground’s initial episode was not indicative of the future of the show.

“What happened [Monday] night is not what we’re going to do. Ultimately I’m proud of some parts of it and disappointed in others. It will get better, I promise. I can guarantee that the next show is going to be night and day and will be seen in a positive light.”

Talking specifically about the “fighter leaving on a stretcher” promos, Otto had this to say: “It wasn’t a good idea. There is a review process that Gareb and I have. As a group, we were not happy about that particular section. It was asked to be corrected, but by the time we got that, it was too late, we tried to correct it. I think there was a little bit of confusion on the network’s view on the show and our view on the show, but I think that has been corrected. It’s a give and take and it has to be done right. And that was a conversation that Gareb had with the network today. When I saw that part… I wanted to go out on a stretcher myself. That was over the top. It was a mistake.”

The details surrounding dealing with a network definitely make for a difficult situation, but Otto was clear to reiterate that it would not happen again. “150% guaranteed [it will not happen again]. It was silly. There’s no other way to say it. It was very, very upsetting to us. I mean, look what we’re doing today. We’re trying to scramble and explain it to you,” said Otto.

Addressing the pressures of the IFL becoming a public company, Otto stated, “The IFL is no longer the Kurt and Gareb show, we’re accountable. It’s positive pressure for us to take this to the next level and grow. We’re taking on Battleground and we’re going to get it right. We as a company and the network, we apologize and I promise you guys that you will see a night and day difference [as Battleground continues].”

In his appearance on MMAWeekly Radio, Otto also explained the production process and some of the details surrounding how things came out the way they did for the premier episode of IFL Battleground. Before he left, Damon & Jeff also talked to the Commissioner about the IFL’s next show this Saturday night at The Forum in Los Angeles.

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