Mixed Martial Arts has always been recognized as a sport that focuses on individual achievement. Sure a fighter has a team that he or she trains with, but when the cage door closes, the fighter is on their own to get the job done. The team aspect is always noticed, but in some cases you’ve had fighters compete against each other in the cage who have trained together and were part of the same team. It’s almost frowned upon, but since MMA isn’t a team sport like football or baseball, sometimes fights like that can and will happen.
Dana White has been quoted numerous times saying:
“This isn’t a team sport, these guys might not like it, but they may have to fight each other.”
There was a time when MMA had a league where it was geared around the team sport rather than the individual fighter themselves, a league that had legendary coaches, playoffs and a championship. That organization was called the International Fight League, and for us fans of MMA from the very beginning it was wonderful but only lasted 2 short years.
When the IFL was founded by Kurt Otto and Gareb Shamus, they wanted to change the landscape of the sport, making the lion share of the profits going to the fighters rather than the promoters. They also paid these fighters salary’s and gave health benefits that way they were paid to train AND FIGHT! The team concept was to make it marketable for television so the episodes could be regularly produced. Sure some of the team names were kind of corny, but that’s what made it all great, you didn’t really care about the team name as much as you did seeing legends like Renzo Gracie and Pat Miletichvl coaching a team on live TV and eventually the coaches would fight each other. The first IFL fight was held in August of 2006 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City New Jersey, and it featured the Quad City Silverbacks vs The Los Angeles Anacondas, and The New York Pitbulls vs the Seattle Tiger Sharks. The event was headlined by Jens Pulver fighting against Cole Escovedo. Sadly, after two short years the company folded due to financial difficulties and the team aspect was never really to be seen again, except on The Ultimate Fighter, which even on that show, there really is no team sport because eventually teammates fight each other.
Fast forward 10 years later and we now have the MMA Pro League looking to not only pick up where the IFL left off, but take it farther and make it forever! President of MMA Pro League and ex Vice President of HBO Mark Taffet has gone on record saying that their concept is different from the IFL simply because the teams that are in MMA Pro League are actually teammates from their respective gyms, not just pieced together like the IFL was. Now, with the IFL there were some pretty recognizable names fighting and coaching, but with MMA Pro league, they want to focus on the young, up and coming fighters for the world to get to know. Having their events streaming on FloGrappling is the best way to make that happen. Coaches will have two fighters in each weight class fighting, so that way injuries won’t derail the team’s season. Anyone who watches MMA today, injuries and missed weight have crushed and crumbled some of the biggest cards these organizations put on.
Just like the IFL, MMA Pro League will be debuting in Atlantic City New Jersey at the brand new Hard Rock Hotel on September 15th. The organization was supposed to have their first show in July, but Taffet said they wanted to make sure they everything was going to be right and didn’t want to rush the show. Most people usually think the worst when an event gets pushed back, but let’s face it folks, Mark Taffet was the Vice President of HBO, this man knows exactly what he is doing when it comes to putting on great content, since HBO has been one of the leaders in Boxing forever. This organization is in prime placement to put a lot of these young stars on the map in the MMA world, having this event in Atlantic City’s newest hotel and casino and being on FloGrappling, many scouts will be in those seats and glue to the FloGrappling app looking for the next best thing.
MMA Pro League is something we need right now, PFL has their finger on the pulse with the point system tournament style, and now with MMA Pro League following suit this could be the best change for MMA. The fans are growing tired of fighters getting opportunities because they get tons of followers on Twitter, or they can talk smack on the mic, organizations like this make opportunities fair, the way MMA used to be.
On September 15th, Team NJ coached by Dan Miller will face Team Pennsylvania coached by Daniel Gracie get to kick off the very first event held by MMA Pro League, if you’re in the Tri-State area and are an MMA fan, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not coming out to this event. If you can’t make it, then make sure you download the FloGrappling app, and get the event, we as fight fans need to support organizations like this to give these fighters more options. I can’t wait to be sitting cage side watching these modern day gladiators slug it out on the first show for the organization, it is guaranteed to be something special!
Article By: Tommy Dejohn
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