While public speculation regarding the financial stability of the Kentucky-based American Fight League has run rampant in recent weeks, at least one of their contracted fighters says the company is still alive and well.
Tara LaRosa (15-1) recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that despite her recent loan-out to Ironheart Crown—and subsequent removal from the card—she is still satisfied with her AFL contract.
“I’m totally comfortable with them,” LaRosa said. “I have a good relationship with the AFL and everybody in it.”
While some wondered why the AFL would place their fighters in a regional promotion such as Ironheart Crown, LaRosa said she was excited about the opportunity to compete for the organization.
“I was totally stoked,” LaRosa said. “I had no problem with [fighting for Ironheart Crown] at all. I knew that the dates on the (AFL) pay-per-view were getting pushed back. So I really needed to get busy.
“I know all about the whole Affiliate Promoter program, and when I heard [the AFL] had gotten up with Ironheart Crown, I was really excited. Ironheart had ceased operations about two years ago, and they had always been pretty prestigious—and really well known in the Midwest, especially when I was coming up. That’s where I fought.
“If you look at my past record, I fought a lot in HOOKnSHOOT, Tennessee Shooto, XFO. So I kind of came up in the Midwest, and I always wanted to fight there. Well I know they didn’t have women’s fights on the show, so I figured well [expletive], maybe I’m good enough by now that I can fight there. So it was really cool for me to be able to get on that show. I was really excited about it.”
LaRosa said she knew from the beginning she would be fighting for organizations outside of the AFL. She was also aware that those organizations wouldn’t always be national in scope.
“I knew about the whole Affiliate Promoter program, and that was the conception from the beginning,” LaRosa said. “[The AFL] knew that they wanted to have a lot of people contracted. And of course you’re not going to be able to use everybody. So they could loan different fighters out to fill out some regional and bigger cards that maybe weren’t the pay-per-view. It doesn’t bother me at all. It’s not all about being on TV for me.”
The AFL made waves earlier this year when it made LaRosa the sport’s highest paid female. The organization then also added WWE-import Bobby Lashley to it’s roster. When plans were announced to add 20-30 female fighters, as well as a pay-per-view event, many questioned how the AFL would fund such an undertaking.
That concern reached even higher levels when the planned pay-per-view never materialized, and when AFL-loaned fighters—including LaRosa—were recently pulled from the aforementioned Ironheart Crown card.
LaRosa said the decisions to adjust the AFL’s operational schedule were more indicative of the economy as a whole rather than the stability of the AFL.
“Honestly, it’s an economy thing,” LaRosa said. “Everybody is taking a hit right now—from MMA shows to my family’s business, to the gym that I train at. We’re seeing less and less people signing up. Everybody’s in a tough spot right now.
“And everyone wants to point fingers at the AFL, well [expletive]. EliteXC couldn’t even pay for their last show. CBS had to pick up the tab for it. So I don’t want to hear [expletive] about it. Everybody’s having a hard time right now.”
LaRosa, widely regarded as the most dominant fighter in women’s MMA, hasn’t competed in the sport since July 2007. And while her desire to compete again has reached a fever-pitch, LaRosa said she’s comfortable waiting for the AFL’s adjusted schedule.
“I’m dying to get back in there,” LaRosa said. “(But) I’m real comfortable with the AFL and what’s happening. There’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes that people don’t see that they all want to speculate about.
“There’s a couple of forums out there where people want to say my contract is [expletive], and I’m [expletive], and the AFL is [expletive]—and that’s absolutely not true. But I really couldn’t give two [expletive] about what they say. I’m getting a little bit disgusted with it all.”
In the meantime, LaRosa is branching out with her training practices while looking forward to representing her country in the first FILA World Grappling Championship.
“What’s up next for me is the World [Championship] in Switzerland for FILA,” LaRosa said. “I made the team again for [the U.S.], so I’m really looking forward to that. I’ll be dropping down to 121 (pounds) again. I did that a couple weeks ago. So I’m on the team, and I’ll be competing in Switzerland in mid to late December.
“I was two weeks into my training camp when I got the word that the (Ironheart Crown) fight was off. I’m down in North Carolina right now with my old team, and I’m going to be returning back to Philly. But I just kind of wanted to get down here and sort of, almost like a rebirth kind of thing.”
LaRosa’s contract with the AFL is non-exclusive, and the 30-year-old welcomes the chance to compete in other organizations. But don’t expect her to join in the growing mass declaring the AFL dead.
“If [another organization] wants to step up, we’re more than willing to take offers,” LaRosa said. “Contact NCFC.tv. Matt Stansell, that’s my manager.
“But as for now, I’m just hanging out, doing my thing. I’m still training. I’m doing two-a-days, and I don’t even have a fight coming up. Gotta keep busy. Keep my mind active. That’s my biggest goal, honestly.”