Gareb Shamus, the founder and Chairman of Wizard Entertainment, has joined with real estate developer Kurt Otto to found the world's first and only mixed martial arts (MMA) sports league, the IFL -- International Fight League. The league will debut in April with four IFL fight teams, each team consisting of five fighters, one from each of five weight divisions. One team will go up against another in all five weight classes in a series of individual contests consisting of three, three-minute rounds. The team that wins 3 (or more) of the five matches will go up against the other winning team six-to-eight weeks later to determine the first IFL championship.
The extreme, bloody, and intense action of this kind of mixed martial arts competition (which has been extremely popular on Pay Per View TV as 'Ultimate Fighting Championships,' but which has been banned in several states because of the brutality of the combat), will be only slightly modified in the IFL model. Unlike the octagonal cages of the UFC combats, the IFL bouts will be staged in a the 4-sided familiar ring, and IFL athletes will not be allowed to use elbow strikes to the face or head of an opponent.
The success of the IFL will depend upon getting the league on television, either as a pay-per-view event or on some sort of cable channel. If the league is a success don't be surprised if Wizard Entertainment ends up producing the official IFL magazines. In an interview on MMAFighting.com Gareb Shamus explained his interest in the project like this: 'I was interested because I immediately knew the concept and subject matter would appeal to the audience I had spent a large chunk of my life working with -- males in the 18+ demographic. I constantly scour every international market to determine what is going to be 'hot' and what is going to be the 'next big thing' to hit the U.S.'