Where The IFL Fighters Are Landing

The IFL’s demise is history.  Zuffa bought the former fight organization and its assets, but the biggest asset is the fighters.  Some of the contracts were believed to be taken by Zuffa, but apparently many were simply let go and became free agents.  Here are the former IFL fighters and their new homes. 

Fighter

New Organization

Roy Nelson*

Affliction

Vladimir Matyushenko*

Affliction

Jay Hieron*

Affliction

Dan Miller*

UFC

Ryan Schultz*

World Victory Road

Waggney Fabiano*

 

Chris Horodecki

Affliction

Mike Massenzio

UFC

Jim Miller

UFC

Bart Palaszewski

WEC

Rory Markham

UFC

Brad Blackburn

UFC

Andre Gusmao

UFC

Reese Andy

UFC

Danillo Vilefort

WEC

Ryan McGivern

 

Matt Horwich

 

Delson Heleno

 

Deividas Taurosevicious

 

Mike Ciesnolevicz

 

LC Davis

WEC

Mark Miller

 

Benji Radach

 

Pat Healy

 

Marcio Cruz

World Victory Road

Carmelo Marrero

 

Rafael Dias

 

Jake Ellenberger

 

Alexandre Ferreira

 

*Denotes a IFL title holder

The UFC, WEC and Zuffa have faired better than most people credit.  Affliction has just gotten the guys that didn’t make it in the UFC previously (Matysuhenko and Hieron).  Horodecki being one that I really feel the UFC missed out on, he would have been great for the WEC.  Also, I believe the big one will be Waggney Fabiano.  The WEC should go hard after him as he may be good competition for Faber. 

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Evaluating Affliction

One of the questions that I keep thinking about is whether or not Affliction in here to stay and whether or not they will compete with the UFC.  No one disagrees that UFC is the standard of MMA right now, but Affliction is making up ground quickly.  It has been a tell tale sign of a slight change that Affliction has signed so many guys lately including many of the stars from the now defunt IFL, which was bought by the parent company of the UFC, Zuffa.  Affliction has signed Champs Roy Nelson and Vladimir Matyushenko.  They have signed lightweight star Chris Horodecki and are rumored to have welterweight champ Jay Hieron.  Affliction is cleaning up the free agents and doing better in that regard than even the UFC as of late.  So, what is there to judge a promotion…

1. Fighter Talent – Fight promotions are fight promotions.  There are other factors that come into play, but primarily if a promotion does not have top level talent they will not stay relevant.

2. Show Quality –  While good fighters is essential, the promotion must put on a good show.  They must entertain fans.  This includes exciting fights, good commentators and a solid show production.  Promotions have to build shows people will come to or buy.

3.  Solid Managment –  Managment is important to a fight promotion, not just anyone can do it.  A promotion may suceed or fail based ont he business savvy of the fight promoter or president.  The PR, fighter pay, contracts, TV deals, etc. all come into play here.

With that said, let’s see how Affliction is doing…

1. Fighter Talent…

There is a lot of hype around Affliction’s fighter talent.  Here is who I can think of off hand that they have and will use on their cards

  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Andrei Arlovski
  • Josh Barnett
  • Tim Sylvia
  • Ben Rothwell
  • Roy Nelson
  • Pedro Rizzo
  • Paul Buentello
  • Aleksander Emelianenko
  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
  • Tito Ortiz
  • Vladimir Matyushenko
  • Renato “Babalu” Sobral
  • Mike Whitehead
  • Edwin DeWees
  • Vernon White
  • Vitor Belfort
  • Matt Lindland
  • Jay Hieron
  • Mike Pyle
  • J.J. Ambrose
  • Chris Horodecki

I went to HDNet’s Rankings to see how many Affliction Fighters were ranked in the top 100 pound for pound or top in their divisons  here is the results.

(Pound for Pound Rank, Divison Rank)

  • Fedor Emelianenko (2, 1)
  • Andrei Arlovski (25, 4)
  • Josh Barnett (27, 5)
  • Tim Sylvia (55, 7)
  • Ben Rothwell (81, 12)
  • Roy Nelson (84, 13)
  • Pedro Rizzo (NR, 19)
  • Paul Buentello (NR, NR)
  • Aleksander Emelianenko (76, 10)
  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (85, 13)
  • Tito Ortiz (87, 15)
  • Vladimir Matyushenko (66, 12)
  • Renato “Babalu” Sobral (92, 16)
  • Mike Whitehead (NR, NR)
  • Edwin DeWees (NR, NR)
  • Vernon White (NR, NR)
  • Vitor Belfort (NR, NR) – Unfairly I’d admit
  • Matt Lindland (22, 5)
  • Jay Hieron (59, 11)
  • Mike Pyle (NR, NR)
  • J.J. Ambrose (NR, NR)
  • Chris Horodecki (NR, NR)
  • Put this into perspective, out of the top 100 the promotions faires like this in pound for pound top 100 fighters…

    • UFC -39
    • Affliction – 13
    • DREAM -12
    • WEC – 10
    • EliteXC – 10
    • Strikeforce – 5
    • World Victory Road – 3

    The point is that Affliction’s talent is overrated. 

    • They are right about the level of DREAM talent wise
    • They are no where near the talent level of the UFC
    • 10 of the Affliction guys that appeared on the rankings list have fought in the UFC before.  Some have been sucessful.  There are several former UFC champs (Sylvia, Barnett, Rizzo, Ortiz and Arlovski), however most of them did no better than fair in the UFC (see Matyushenko, Hieron, et. al)
    • Most of the top Affliction guys are in the second half of their careers and are past their prime.  They still have fight left in them, don’t get me wrong, but not for the long haul
    • What happens if two or three of those gusy get injured?  Affliction is hanging their hat on Fedor, Barnett, Arlovski and Ortiz.  They cannot keep putting everyone on every card, they will run out of match-ups.
    • To their credit, they can put on good fights.  The talent isn’t bad.  Their guys can fight exciting fighter, but they have exciting fights at tough man competitions. They need to sign younger talent and more talent.

    Show Quality…

    • I cannot judge them solely on their sole show.  Affliction needs to improve their show quality as far as commentating, interviews and production is concerned
    • Also, I thought with the exception of the last 3 fights the card wasn’t what it was billed to be
    • They are nowhere near the UFC level as far as enjoyability to watch

    Solid Managment:

    • The UFC with Dana White and the Fertitas is still the managment standard.  I have problems with the UFC and Dana White’s managing style.  I don’t like his constant expletives, I don’t like the way he trashes other promotions, I don’t like the stubborness he exhibits with signing guys like Lindland and Barnett, and even Fedor.  However, Dana is crafty.  Atencio is no Dana White.  Watch his video below where he can’t remember Josh Barnett’s name and he is the main event for the second show. 
    • Affliction does have the deep pocketed Donald Trump behind them which helps.  Trump is a business guiness, but he doesn’t neccessarily know MMA.  The money helps thought he same way it helped having Lorezon and Frank in the UFC early days when they lost tons of money.

    Here is the point folks…Affliction is a solid upstart company.  They may be around for a while, but before we jump ont he bandwagon and label them peers to the UFC and competitors to the UFC let them get through a few shows first.  Let’s see how much money they lose after 3 events.  Let’s see how many fights they can do after 3 card.  They could compete, but as for now it is the UFC and then everyone else.  Zuffa is sitting pretty in the MMA world.  They are the big leagues, everything else is just the minors.  Affliction, EliteXC and DREAM are in the same boat and in a year from now at least one of them will be non-existent.

    UFC News: Zuffa Buys IFL

    It has been rumored for a few weeks that Zuffa was going to buy the International Fight League (IFL), now it seems offifical.  we assumed it was going to happen with several clues.  First, came the announcment that the IFL was for sale for $1,000,000 and that Zuffa was the leading suitor.  Then came the July 19th card featuring IFL fighters such as Reese Andy, Brad Blackburn and Rory Markham.  Also, during the SPIKE telecast of the UFC Fight Night 14 card IFL footage was used and talked about openly, something the UFC had not done before.  Then came the rumor that  the UFC signed Jim and Dan Miller.  Here is a word from IFL Senior Vice President of Communications Joe Favorito:

    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

    That is nothing shocking.  Again, the focus now will be where do the 10-15 top guys from the IFL land.  There is some news on that front.  The IFL lightweight champion Ryan Schultz seems to have landed with World Victory Road, as he is slated to appear on their Sengoku 4 card, which is a lightweight grand prix.  That is a pretty good indicator that he will not land with Zuffa.  Also, MMAjunkie says that Chris Horodecki is in negotions with the American Fight League.  I am sure ZUffa will sign more fighters and they will go between the UFC and WEC.  I would imagine that means that the UFC will focus on Roy Nelson, Vladimir Matyushenko, and Jay Hieron, while the WEC has to crave Waggney Fabiano at 145 lbs.

    Fighting Organizations Rankings

    I have ranked the organizations before, but here is the updated rankings of who has the best product.

    1. UFC – Still the best of the best.  Has more ranked fighters by far.  Has the most recognizable names in the likes of Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Shogun, Wanderlei Silva, Rampage Jackson, Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes and B.J. Penn.

    2. Affliction – By far the best competitive heavyweight divison with Fedor, Tim Sylvia, Aleksander Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, Ben Rothwell, Pedro Rizzo and maybe Arlovski.  Not to mention Lindland, Whitehead and Babalu. 

    3. WEC –  The WEC has some star power, but is in the UFC’s shadow majorly.  The growing featherweight divison will help them as will the bantamweight with star Miguel Torres.  Guys like Condit, Stann, Filho and Faber give WEC the name recognition.  WEC still seems to be the minor league UFC.  Their success will not come with the bigger fighters, but with lightweights, featherweights and bantamweights. 

    4. EliteXC –  Their CBS deal will help them.  Kimbo can be a star.  They do great partnering with other promotions like Strikeforce and allowing guys to fight in DREAM. 

    5. DREAM – DREAM 1-3 have been solid with solid fighters especially lightweights and middleweights. Has guys like Aoki and Ishida as well as Caol Uno and Kwajiri. Has other guys fight for them like Alvarez, Gilbert Melendez, JZ Calvancante, Diaz, Cro Cop, Jason Mayhem Miller, Manhoef, Denis Kang, Mark Hunt, Jacare, Kid Yamamoto, Sakurai and Hansen. 

    6. Strikeforce – They have a few good fighters which helps them greatly.  They have Thomson, Le and Melendez

    7. World Victory Road –  They don’t have an American appeal, but they do have Gomi and some other solid Japanese fighters.  Also they have Kazuo Misaki, Kevin Randlemen, Jeff Monson, and Nick Thompson