IFL FINALS Dissected: The Before, During and After
MMANews’s Exclusive report, news… including a $100 fine, a Gracie debut, and an arm that “is broke.”
By Sid Needelman
2. Fight Details
3. Post-Fight Presser & Thoughts
4. The Ricco Review: Fall-out and Night-Out
*** Event will air Sunday and Monday on MyNetwork and FSN, if you do not want to know who wins, please wait and read this article late Monday night… ***
1. IFL FINALS: Weigh-ins
While the weigh-ins were to be held at the Hooters at the Hardrock Casino, they had to be changed last minute to a ballroom inside the casino. The reason was that there were way too many people to fit in Hooters including the press, family, tons of fans, and the fighters themselves. It’s a good sign for the IFL to not have had a handle on just how popular the event would be. Just because the stock price for the IFL has fallen, does not mean the success is not there. In fact, with the Grand Prix coming up, and some major growth in recognition, the IFL is making itself significant. One thing that exemplifies that point, was the addition of Ricco Rodriguez to the card. With just a few days notice, Ricco stepped up to the plate for IFL when the Florida commission nixed a scheduled bout. The former UFC Champ, the ADCC hero, the wrestling superstar and once fallen hero took much of the spotlight for the event.
The weigh-ins did not see any pushing or shouting but there were some interesting notes:
Bart Palaszewski was visibly upset when he had to be rechecked without his underwear on.
There was an interesting Stare down and intensity between the Silverbacks’ Ryan McGivern and the fighter who beat him three days short of a year from Thursday’s fight, Fabio Leopold. MMAnews.com spoke with McGivern for an exclusive interview about his rematch that many seemed to have neglected. His intensity from the last fight was still there. For this fight he trained mostly with fellow Silverback, Mike C and Robbie Lawler. Robbie himself, had an exciting week with his title victory at EliteXC. McGivern also acknowledged what I thought was the case, Miletich is not able to give all of his team proper individual attention. And becoming a Silverback did not get the Miletich Camp fighter any more time than before. Fabio was his hardest loss, and this time he was in for redemption. He even jokingly admitted he worked hard on defending knee-bars for the rematch. For the fighter who walks around at nearly 15 lbs. above what he weighed in at, he was ready to get the fight going, but was calm and in good enough shape to stick around and answer questions.
As noted, Ricco was a huge part of the weigh-in. In the past two years that would normally be a lead in for a joke about a man who was tipping the scales at 330. Turns out that guy did not show up to the weigh in. MMANEWS.com was able to spend nearly 10 hours of the past week with Ricco and in an exclusive article to come soon, details on just how he lost the weight, his personal life, inner-demons, offspring and acting career. Keep a look out for that to be out later this week.
At just over 250 lbs., Ricco was ready for a battle with Ben Rothwell.
One Announcement made during the weigh-ins was actually “news.” Mario Sperry has been offered a team and the IFL wants it to be based out of Florida. Sperry seems reluctant to commit to Florida but was happy to address the crowd.
A few other notes from the weigh-ins: Jamal, the Renzo team member, looked great even though he had to cut a bunch of weight. He was in good spirits and a nice guy to speak with. In attendance were the teams and also Bas Ruttan, Matt Lindland, Robbie Lawler, Benji Radach and many others.
2. Fight Details: The IFL FINALS
Jamal Patterson vs Chris Baten
The fight was a fierce one, and when it was over one of the night’s funniest of voices, Renzo Gracie, was heard screaming, “He’s out, He’s Out!” Indeed, Jamal the fighter with a record too thin for the Florida Commission to allow him to fight Rothwell, submitted Chris with an arm triangle.
Rolles Gracie vs Sam Holloway
The MMA debut for this Gracie began with him sporting a Gi to the ring. I could just hear Bas in my mind proclaiming that “he’s wearing a Gi!” The bout went as follows; fighters come together, Gracie gets the mount, rains in punches, gets the back, puts in the hooks and ends with an RNC [rear-naked choke].
Bad Brad Blackburn vs Travis Cox
Brad was ready to take on the Floridian Cox in the third of the prelim bouts, but the fight would not go as planned. An accidental kick to the more sensitive of areas slowed down the pace and probably Cox’s ability to procreate. The knee to the head of the downed Cox that ended the bout in a no contest, was overshadowed as the crowd realized pro-wrestler Kurt Angle was in attendance and ripe for the heckling. While Kurt may have had greatness in legit wrestling at one point, mark my words: he will never be a force in MMA. Even if he ever decided to actually have an MMA fight, he would sell more tickets on spite from hard working athletes, and not from fans who expect greatness.
Ryan Shultz vs Aaron Riley
The 1st round was not all too noteable, but the 2nd saw a back and forth battle. Just as Riley gets in a good shot, Shultz slams him around. Ryan starts the 3rd with a great takedown, but another crotch shot for the night, floors Ryan. When the action restarts, Riley is nearly thrown from the ring and goes through the ropes. Riley reenters the rings with his hands raised to show he was in good spirits, but it is Shultz who gets his hands raised at the end of the fight via all three judge’s scorecards.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHTS….
Silverbacks vs Pitbulls
Jake Ellenberger vs Delson heleno
The 170 lbs. fight begins with a decent first round, but it’s the 2nd when fists and knees are exchanged with great force. With less than 20 second left in the IFL’s 4 minute rounds, Delson wins when Jake has to tap to an armbar. Pitbulls up by one fight….
Bart Pawaszewski vs Delvidas Taurosevicius
In round one, “D” gets in the guard and pounds away at Bart’s face. To add insult, its right in front of Bart’s corner that he’s taking a beating. The second round starts with a trading of blows and “D” misses a shot. Bart is in guard with three minutes but an armbar ends his advantage. When Bart was released he got a good kick in the eye. The bout was stopped from the armbar, Bart did not contest the stoppage. Boos and cheers rang through the Hollywood Casino. Both competitors would have interesting things to say about the fight in the post fight conference. 2 Fights to `nil for the Pitbulls.
Ben Rothwell vs Ricco Rodriguez
With about a weeks notice at most, Ricco looked as fit as he has been in years as he approached the ring. The heavyweights are for sure one of the most anticipated fights of the night and the IFL must be commended on putting together this fight for the fans.
The fight began with a clinch in Ben’s corner and a standing guillotine to Ben’s neck. In what appeared to be an overreaction, Ben a moment later, claimed a kick below the belt. Of the three the fight would contain, this was by far the most suspicious of them. When the action resets, Ricco takes a big uppercut to end the round. That round seemed to favor Ricco.
Ricco’s Gut was the target of a big punch. While recovering, Ricco shoots in for a takedown and another guillotine is applied to Ben. Rothwell stalks Ricco for the rest of the round to probably take it on the Judge’s card.
In the last round, the crowd witnessed another guillotine and punches but it was the $100 spit that would be the hallmark of the round. When Ben would not let up Ricco in the corner, you could hear Ricco verbally upset. When he did get to his feet, one huge splatter of spit emerged from the mouth of the former UFC champ, right into the face of the IFL regular. In retaliation Ben seemed to pick up the pace but the round would end before much else would happen. The spit would later be a source of a fine against Ricco. He was not told of his dock in pay until he opened his check a few hours after the fight right as he was heading out to explore the fun to be had at the casino. The hundred bucks was a source of jokes for the rest of the night. Most people joked how they had a few people they would pay $100 to spit at, and with no suspension to fight to accompany the fine, it was not the aggravation it could have been to a man reinventing his life. Silverbacks on the board with one win to the Pitbulls two wins.
Ryan McGivern vs Fabio Leopoldo
Last year at about this time, Ryan was taping out to Fabio. This time it was not going to end the same. While Ryan may have missed the semi-finals for his honeymoon, he was not going to be relaxing in Florida. Fabio looks much more solid as they meet at the center of the ring. They trade punches and Fabio goes in for the takedown with no success. An uppercut starts the 2nd round with Fabio on the receiving end. A couple more punches, a kick and it is redemption for Ryan and 2-2 in the team scores for the night.
Mike Ciesnolevicz vs Andre Gusmao
Andre is a much tighter looking fighter with a grimace that often is found on fairytale villains. Quickly a knee ends it when Mike falls flat to the ground giving the Renzo Gracie Pitbulls the win for the season…
3. Post-Fight Presser Notes & Thoughts
* Renzo was for sure the star of the press conference. He is one funny guy and I am sure his win was part of his good mood.
* Bart was asked if he tapped or not, but he got yelled at last time for contesting a call and did not want to get yelled at again. You have to wonder why a fighter who gets punched in the face is worried about a scolding though.
* Ben Rothwell was upset about the spit right in his face, and said the apology from Ricco was not totally enough. His eye was twitching uncontrollably as he was asked more questions and people talked about a rematch once Ben might get the Grand Prix. Ricco and Kurt agreed it could happen.
* Fight of the Night checks went to Ellenberger and Helano, Submission of the night to Deividas.
* The best Knockout went to Andre Gusmao.
* Deividas said simply to Renzo about Bart’s arm while returning to his corner, “is broke.”
* Ricco will be getting an IFL ring like the rest of his team even though it was a one fight deal.
* When Renzo was asked about the some of the calls, he said he was not in charge of the commission or they would have won 5 and 0 if he was.
4. The Ricco Review: Fall-out and Night-Out
COMING LATER THIS WEEK…STAY TUNED!