International Fight League: Strategy for a Mixed-Martial Arts Start-up

By Patrick Arippol, George Foster
2007 | Case No. E265
The International Fight League (IFL) case describes the sports company’s formation and growth, the mixed martial arts (MMA) industry in 2007, and culminates in the dilemma of what the company should to strategically in order to survive, at that juncture. After going public, the company faced competition from various new small players like itself, and from dominant player UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). As the company fell below break-even, its challenge became to search for one or more types of revenue streams to “salvage” itself, before burning through its remaining cash reserves. The case evaluates the typical revenue streams of sports companies, such as television, team sponsorship, league sponsorship, advertising, merchandising, and live arena events. Each strategic direction is evaluated, given its corresponding operational model, cost of ramp-up (particularly considering UFC’s position), and sustainable barriers to entry. This case describes typical challenges faced by management of a publicly traded company caught in a strategic pinch—by looking at IFL’s case.
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