IFL article in Oregonian




Mixed martial arts notebook IFL meets, then exceeds expectations in first year
Friday, December 29, 2006
International Fight League founders Gareb Shamus and Kurt Otto began with dreams of glory, but few others believed the IFL would have performed quite so well in its first year.

The world of mixed martial arts is filled with hopeful promotions that fail on the national stage. But the IFL consistently outpaced attendance projections and Fox television ratings expectations and doubled in size to eight teams with plans to expand to 12 in 2007.

By all accounts, one secret to the IFL's success has been keeping its fighters happy. Members of the Portland Wolfpack signed up for the IFL thinking it might be a short stay.


"When I started I thought, 'I'll be on national television and get some exposure and that it would open other doors,' " Wolfpack heavyweight Devin Cole said.

Cole of Medford quickly changed his mind.

"They treat us first class all the way," Cole said. "(Wolfpack middleweight) Matt Horwich asked for an (energy drink) at the hotel, and they didn't have it. One of the hotel guys drove down to the store to buy him a six-pack. That kind of stuff happens all the time."

Another unexpected bonus has been the quality of the fighters. Most began as virtual no-names in the sport, but have shown that there is an unexplored depth of talent in MMA.

"The IFL is not a 'builder of talent,' " Iowa Silverbacks coach Pat Miletich said. "The IFL has talent. I was very optimistic about the IFL when I began, but it has surpassed my expectations by far."

In addition to an expanded team competition, IFL fighters will be able to participate in the World Grand Prix, an individual tournament. Individual champions would then leave their teams and fight to defend their titles.

"Most organizations take the attitude of 'Why should we let you fight for us?' " Portland Wolfpack coach Matt Lindland said. "The IFL makes it so fighters want to fight for them."

Mixed martial arts notebook IFL meets, then exceeds expectations in first year
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Lindland included. One of the top middleweight MMA fighters in the world, Lindland is a free agent. He will be fighting a "superfight" against former UFC champion Carlos Newton for the IFL on Feb. 2 in Houston.

Portlander takes UFC stage: Chris Leben of Portland will share perhaps the biggest stage in U.S. mixed martial arts history Saturday as part of Ultimate Fighting Championships 66 in Las Vegas. The main event features Chuck Liddell putting his light heavyweight title on the line in a rematch against Tito Ortiz. Both fighters are among the most popular with UFC fans and produced one of the UFC's more memorable fights, a knockout win by Liddell in April 2004.

"This is the biggest fight in UFC history," UFC President Dana White said Wednesday.


That increases the exposure for all fighters on the undercard, including Leben (15-2), who will fight Jason MacDonald (17-7) of Edmonton at 185 pounds.

"It's never just about the fight in something like this, so they are always the biggest fights of my life," Leben said. "This is no different."

Leben, 26, wrestled for four years at Benson High School before entering mixed martial arts and honing his craft fighting on smaller cards at the Roseland. His break came in 2005 on the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" television show and, like others from the show, has made his name as a legitimate fighter. Fellow cast members Diego Sanchez and Mike Swick are considered title contenders, and Forrest Griffin fought Ortiz.

"Chris has been working hard to improve," Matt Lindland said. Lindland helps train Leben at Team Quest near Gresham. "I roll with him almost every day. He has been trying to round out his game."

Leben won his first five UFC fights before losing to current middleweight champion Anderson Silva in June. He bounced back with a win over Jorge Santiago in August.

"No one likes to lose, but what matters is what you do next," Leben said. "The loss showed me some holes in what I was doing and I've worked to correct those. I like to think of it as a learning curve."

MacDonald presents his own obstacles. He forced Ed Herman, Leben's friend and Team Quest training partner, to submit in October.

"This is my sport, so I would never say anything scares me, but there are things about a guy's game that make me raise an eyebrow," Leben said. "MacDonald is a ground guy with a good triangle and rear-naked choke, so I have worked on my defense."

Brad McCray: 503-221-8161; bradmccray@news.oregonian.com

nice article

Yeah Stacks. Found your way to the UG I see.

Where are you training?

Stacks, that sounds like something T.O. would say lol.

I teach MMA once a week at a karate school, no time to train more.

I've slowed done in my old age. If I would have kept fighting I was thinking Sovann "Squirrel" Pen, short for rabid squirrel. These days my jiu jitsu is more sloth-like.

Hey T, yeah same email on hotmail.