IFL Playoffs Come Down to Season Finale
Let's face it, being a sports fan can really waste a lot of your
time. Not everybody can check box scores all day or care to
memorize stats. Most of us don't really care about paying much
until the playoffs begin. Suddenly, I find myself caring about
Lebron's shooting percentage and who will be covering the
perpetually doe-eyed Tim Duncan.
The International Fight League is no different as we have major
playoff implications going into fights this Saturday in Las Vegas.
While you might not have cared if the Condors beat the Silverbacks
back in February … you might want to start paying attention
Seattle, Portland, Tucson, San Jose, Chicago and the Condors of So
Cal have all been eliminated from the field. The Los Angeles
Anacondas and Tokyo Sabres have already secured their spots in the
semifinals by going 3-0 this year.
Nevada, Toronto, New York and Quad Cities are all on the chopping
block going into the final regular season event this weekend. The
Quad Cities Silverbacks (2-1 as a team while winning nine of 15
fights) is the only squad in the hunt that won't fight this week.
Instead, Ben Rothwell
(Pictures), Roy Markham and crew will
sit at home rooting for Renzo
Gracie (Pictures)'s New York Pitbulls to put away
the Toronto Dragons.
A Pitbull win would put the Silverback's in fourth place and at
worst put them in a tie with the Nevada Lions, whom they beat head
to head back in April. A loss might not be such a bad thing
If the Toronto Dragons get lucky and beat New York handily -- like
4-1 or a 5-0 sweep -- the Pitbulls would be thrown out and Quad
Cities would end up sitting snugly in third place. That scenario
would most likely have Toronto facing the Anacondas, who narrowly
defeated the Dragons earlier this season.
The Ken Shamrock (Pictures) coached Nevada Lions (1-1, 4-6)
find themselves pitted against Shamrock's nemesis Don Frye (Pictures) and his Tucson Scorpions (0-2,
3-7). Tucson has been knocked out of the running already but they
can certainly play the role of spoilers.
Nevada is still holding on to the slim chance that they could
squeeze their way into the playoffs, but that would require a clean
sweep against the Lions on Saturday. As we look at the match-ups,
it's clear that a sweep won't be easy.
(Pictures) last fought in a tough
decision loss to Bart Palaszewksi and will be looking to get back
on the winning track against Gabe Casillas. Gunderson, fighting at
155 pounds, is battle tested and should be able to rely on his
experience to help get him a win and the Lions off to a good
Welterweight Pat Healy
(Pictures) (Lions) will need to rely
on his hands early if he's going to have any luck against Mike Guymon (Pictures) (Scorpions), who has yet to have
a fight go past the first round. Healy's got the experience in his
corner but Guymon is a finisher whose only loss is to some guy
named Diego Sanchez
(Pictures). The Lions' chances of
going undefeated will be seriously tested in this bout.
Dan Molina (Pictures) (Lions) has had a hard time in
the IFL thus far, losing his first two bouts. His opponent,
(Scorpions), last fought against Brent Beauparlant
(Pictures) (Dragons) and ended up on
the wrong side of the ledger. Both men will try to finish out the
regular season with a win. Teams be damned, these two are fighting
The Lions-Scorpions light heavyweight bout will probably be the
most anticipated match of the night, as two of the best-known names
in the IFL will square off. Mike Whitehead (Pictures) (Scorpions) has popped off nine
wins in a row but will have his work cut out for him when he meets
Vernon "Tiger" White (Lions) on Saturday.
White certainly needs no introduction and despite the fact that he
will probably be giving up some size, he will probably be the
toughest opponent Whitehead has faced in the IFL. This fight could
pretty much go anyway you could imagine. Whitehead is typically
known for submissions, so it would behoove him to get White onto
the ground as soon as possible if he wants to continue with his
Nevada's Roy Nelson
(Pictures) lost a heartbreaking split
decision against the IFL's top heavyweight, Ben Rothwell (Pictures), back in April. I'm sure he's
been stewing in "what could have been" scenarios for the past month
or so and will be looking to get some revenge this week against
Shane Ott (Scorpions). Ott
is undefeated so far, but Nelson and his submission skills will be
a big test for the fighter this early in his career.
The Toronto Dragons are still in the driver's seat for a spot in
the playoffs, but it will be hard to steer since the New York
Pitbulls will be on the roof punching them through the window.
Carlos Newton (Pictures)'s team has looked good this year,
narrowly losing to the Portland Wolfpack and then rebounding by
curb stomping the Tucson Scorpions in their last outing.
Renzo Gracie (Pictures)'s Pitbulls haven't been too
shabby either. They easily dispatched the Chicago Red Bears to
start their 2007 campaign and grinded out a tough victory against
the Portland Wolfpack in April.
As long as they don't get swept or lose 4-1 to the Dragons, New
York is assured a spot in the playoffs. Of all the teams competing
for the final two spots, they have the best chance considering the
match-ups and the recent addition of BJJ monster "Pe de Pano" as
(Pictures) (Dragons) has been a
submission beast so far in the IFL but his opponent Erik Owings (Pictures) (Pitbulls) may know a thing or
two about the ground game having trained with Renzo Gracie (Pictures). The Pitbulls are loaded for bear
in every weight class but Wagnney is no pushover and this
lightweight fight could make the Pitbulls awfully nervous if they
were to lose this match.
Gideon Ray (Pictures) is a lot like Jose Canseco at the
plate: he can go yard with ease or strike out wildly. He'll
definitely need to be at the top of his game when he faces Delson Heleno (Pictures) (Pitbulls), who has won eight of
his last nine fights.
The only loss Heleno suffered during that span was a
disqualification against Dennis Hallman (Pictures) in the IFL finals last year. Ray,
fighting out of Chicago, will need to take it to the Brazilian
while they are standing if he wants any shot of winning.
Another IFL star in the making is Fabio Leopoldo (Pictures), whose only professional loss
happened outside the IFL at the hands of Portland coach Matt Lindland (Pictures). Brent Beauparlant
(Pictures)'s IFL career that has been
up and down along the way. The Toronto Dragon could really make a
name for himself if he can get past the first round with Leopoldo
and force this fight from early submission to late decision.
Light heavyweight Wojtek
Kaszowski (Pictures) hasn't had much luck in the IFL,
going 0-4 so far. But with losses to guys like Travis Wiuff (Pictures) and Ben Rothwell (Pictures), it's not like he's facing
pushovers. Kaszowski isn't getting a pass this week either as he'll
see New York's Jamal
Patterson (Pictures) standing across from him.
Patterson is a fearsome athlete who's made the switch from football
and wrestling into MMA with aplomb. His two victories over Matt Horwich (Pictures) are proof enough that he's got
skills and he alone should be able to help make sure his team makes
it into the semifinals with a win here.
What do you do if you're an IFL coach and your grappling stud at
heavyweight has to serve an injury suspension? You do what Renzo Gracie (Pictures) did and get yourself an even
bigger stud grappler. With the late addition of Marcio "Pe de Pano"
Cruz to his team, Gracie has to like his chances to get his team
into the semis in Jersey. "Pe de Pano" is a world-class jiu-jitsu
expert and although his MMA career is about 50/50 you can't go
wrong by pairing him with this already sick Pitbulls team. Rafeal
Custodio can ruin Cruz's coming out party and shake up the math
with a win here.
It will be interesting to see how everything shakes out this
weekend. No matter who wins, they will be at somewhat of a
disadvantage to the Tokyo Sabres and Los Angeles Anacondas, who
will have had over a month to rest and heal before the semifinals
Following up on their successful visits during "Fleet Week" in New
York, the IFL sends head coaches Pat Miletich (Pictures) and Don Frye (Pictures), along with reigning PRIDE
champion and Portland Wolfpack assistant coach Dan Henderson (Pictures) to the Persian Gulf for a USO
tour. These legends will be participating in meet and greets along
the way and will probably be giving some pointers to any MMA
practitioners they meet.
USA World Grappling Team trials were held in Las Vegas this past
weekend and Matt Horwich
(Pictures) of the Portland Wolfpack
and Bryan Vetell
(Pictures) of the New York Pitbulls
both qualified for the 2007 U.S. Grappling Team. The World Team
Championships will be held in Ankara, Turkey this September.
Exciting news for people who want to see the submission game get
more respect and make it to the Olympics.
The IFL has also come to a licensing agreement with the Topps
Company to create collectible cards for IFL fighters and coaches.
"The sport of mixed martial arts is exciting and rapidly growing,
and we are proud to partner with the IFL, their world-class coaches
and rising stars to make our entry in the sport," said Ira
Friedman, Topps' vice president of publishing and licensing. "We
have looked for the right entry point for the MMA category from a
collectible standpoint, and feel that the IFL model is the best fit
for both now and for the long term." Soon you'll be able to brag to
all your friends about your unopened 2007 IFL box set and how you
have a signed Ben Rothwell
(Pictures) rookie card that is in mint
GRRRR!!!More on Sherdog.com Mobile