IFL - Las Vegas (February 29, 2008)
Photos by Cristina Johnson
LAS VEGAS – On Friday February 29, 2008 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, the IFL kicked off its 2008 season dubbed “New Blood, New Battles” due to the plethora of changes that the organization underwent after the 2007 season ended in December. The team-based league, which used to emphasize city vs. city events, has now shifted to a team vs. team format. The IFL also went out and recruited new coaches and athletes for its 2008 campaign. One of these coaches is the legendary Mario Sperry, who founded the Brazilian Top Team and will be coaching his new team “World Class Fight Center” against Shawn Tompkins’ “Team Tompkins”. Both teams will enjoy the home crowd, as they are both located in Las Vegas. The other team match-up of the night pits Matt Lindland’s Portland, Oregon based “Team Quest” against Ken Shamrock’s Reno, Nevada based “Lion’s Den”. There were 8 fights in total with nearly half of them being title fights. Ryan Schultz defended his lightweight title against John Gunderson, heavyweight champion Roy Nelson battled Fabiano Scherner, and the middleweight belt was up for grabs as champion Matt Horwich took on Ryan McGivern.
Ian “The Barn Owl” Loveland (Team Quest) vs. Dennis “The Piranha” Davis (Team Tompkins) – Featherweight Bout
The first bout of the night had an interesting storyline behind it. Dennis Davis used to be Ian Loveland’s coach and never had any interest in fighting him after moving to Las Vegas to train at Xtreme Couture. However, once Loveland learned that his former coach dropped down to the IFL’s newly formed featherweight division, he began stressing his desire to fight his former coach. Davis didn’t think to kindly of this and the fight was signed to help figure out the pecking order in the 145-pound division.
Dennis Davis wearing camo shorts comes out the aggressor and lands a low kick and right hand. Ian Loveland appears tentative, but goes for a Sakuraba-like kimura and is promptly slammed for his efforts. They reverse positions on the ground and Davis goes from an armbar to omoplata, but Loveland defends. Matt Lindland is very vocal in Loveland’s corner. Davis goes for another armbar attempt, but misses. Loveland falls back and they scramble back to their feet. Loveland attempts a weak guillotine choke, Davis defends side, and mount from the mount he begins looking for mounted triangle. Davis rolls to sink the triangle and Loveland escapes as the round ends. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Davis due to more aggressive game and multiple submission attempts to Loveland’s one takedown.
Loveland connects with a few punches to start the second stanza that seem to catch Davis’ attention. Loveland jumps to full guard and forces Davis to tapout via guillotine choke near the corner ropes. It appears that Loveland’s big right hand had dazed Davis, which facilitated the guillotine choke submission at 58 seconds of the second round.
Rafael Dias (World Class Fight Center) vs. Santino DeFranco (Team Tompkins) – Featherweight Bout
Rafael Dias comes out and uses an early trip takedown on Santino DeFranco to start things off. Working from top of DeFranco’s half guard, he begins working a mounted Guillotine Choke as his coach Mario Sperry shouts out instructions in Portuguese. Dias then transitions into a deep Anaconda Choke that nearly forces the tap. Dias then re-postures and DeFranco tries to stand. Dias looks for a Guillotine Choke and then takes DeFranco’s back to finish the fight with a beautiful rear naked choke ending what was a completely dominant display of Jiu-Jitsu, much to the delight of his coach Mario Sperry and the World Class Fight Center.
Leopoldo Serao (World Class Fight Center) vs. Josh “Bring the Pain” Haynes (Team Tompkins) – Middleweight Bout
TUF 3 light-heavyweight finalist Josh Haynes starts the fight off with a flurry that drops Leopoldo Serao, who quickly pulls guard. Haynes backs up and lets him stand. Haynes comes in fast again and Serao again pulls guard. Haynes frees his foot and forces Serao to stand again. He then butt flops again and asks Haynes to join him. Haynes looks confused. Clinches then pulls guard looking for a rubber guard. Haynes blasts him looking frustrated as the crowd boos Serao for refusing to stand back up. Haynes circles Serao and kicks his legs. Haynes seems to get bored and dives into his guard. A failed omoplata ends the round with a ton of boos raining down on the Brazilian who thinks he’s in a grappling match. OTM scores it 10- 9 for Haynes.
Haynes is the aggressor on the feet again and Serao butt flops like clockwork as soon as Haynes gets within striking distance. The ref forces him to stand and he flops again. Stand flop, stand flop, stand flop… The crowd is beginning to wonder if Serao has ever trained MMA, wrestling, or striking. Haynes gets annoyed and throws his hand up at him like WTF dude? Haynes lands a stiff jab, which makes the hometown crowd cheer. For unknown reasons, Haynes decides to join Serao in his realm throwing punches inside his guard. Serao has a completely ineffective rubber guard. Haynes drops a few more elbows and strikes as the second round ends. OTM scores it 10-8 for Haynes.
It appears that Haynes knows he has this fight in the bag, as he doesn’t seem as aggressive as he was in the first two rounds. Serao’s punches are ironically the “pussy cat punches” that Sperry so vehemently despises. As Haynes looked to stand, Serao takes his back and works the RNC as the tough as nails Haynes punches backwards and looks to spin back into his guard. Haynes slowly and methodically works his way out and throws his arms up in the air in victory with 30 seconds left after escaping up to his feet, knowing that he won as the Brazilian lays on his back. The crowd erupts as Haynes showed his trademark grit after putting himself in unnecessary danger after dominating the first two rounds. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Serao, but the overall fight 29-27 for Haynes. The judges agree and give Haynes the Unanimous Decision victory.
Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira (World Class Fight Center) vs. Lew Polley (Team Tompkins) – Heavyweight Bout
Cacareco is widely regarded as one of the best submission grapplers in the world having competed successfully in the prestigious ADCC World Championships on several occasions. He is very small for the 265-pound heavyweight division, weighing in at 212-pounds. His opponent Lew Polley trains mostly with American Top Team, but will be representing Team Tompkins for this fight.
Cacareco starts off the fight by landing a hard right on Polley’s chin and quickly jumps guard wrapping his legs around Polley’s waist and submitting him with a standing one-arm guillotine at 40 seconds of the first round putting in the fastest performance of the night.
Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger (Team Quest) vs. Pat “Bam Bam” Healy (Lion’s Den) – Welterweight Bout
Jake Ellenberger comes out throwing knees as Pat Healy looks for the clinch and takedown. They get separated and Ellenberger thows a lot of wild hands and lands an inside trip takedown. Ellenberger stays active inside Healy’s guard with punches to the ribs and head opening a cut over Healy’s left eye. Healy looks for a kimura from half-guard but Ellenberger stands. Healy looks for a low single off his guard but Ellenberger sprawls. Healy keeps a hold of the single and Ellenberger sprawls again and lands some right hands to Healy’s rips as the round ends. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Ellenberger.
They touch gloves to start the second round. Ellenberger looks for more knees and then a Thai clinch. Healy pushes him off and looks to be bleeding from his right ear now. Ellenberger clinches and bulldogs Healy to the ground. Healy gets to half-guard and the action is halted due to Healy losing his mouth guard. Healy gets to a full guard on the restart and appears to be looking for an opening. Ellenberger keeps his hips low minimizing any submission opportunities as he lays low inside Healy’s guard. Ellenberger then stands and Healy joins him. Healy pulls a half-guard and Ellenberger keeps busy throwing punches to Healy’s ribs. Healy works back to full guard, but can’t wiggle his hips free for any submission attempts as the round ends. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Ellenberger.
Ellenberger misses a head kick to start the final round and Healy capitalizes by taking him down while he was off balance. During a scramble Ellenberger looked to take Healy’s back, but he works his way out looking to get to side control, but both fighters stand and Ellenberger lands a takedown of his own. Ellenberger bullies Healy into the Team Quest corner with a minute and a half left, but Healy uses the corner to stand briefly before being dragged back to the ground. Healy looks for a kneebar from the bottom of half-guard, but Ellenberger blasts him for his efforts. Now with 30 seconds left both men stand and trade. Healy attempts one last takedown to no avail, as he is clearly the more tired of the two fighters as time expires. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Ellenberger and 30-27 for the fight. The judges agree and award Ellenberger with a Unanimous Decision victory.
John “Guns” Gunderson (Lion’s Den) vs. Ryan “The Lion” Schultz (Team Quest) – Lightweight Championship Bout
There’s an intense stare down coming from Ryan Schultz. They circle and John Gunderson initiates a clinch looking for an early takedown. Gunderson hold Schultz against the ropes and lands some knees. Schultz reverses and lands a takedown. Gunderson gets back to half-guard as Schultz pushes him up against the corner ring post. Schultz starts throwing some strikes after Gunderson neutralized most of his aggression. Schultz advances to side control briefly before the round ends. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Schultz.
Schultz thows a few fast hands as the round starts. Gunderson clinches and get high takedown in the corner to put Schultz on his back. Schultz begins working a one-arm guillotine, but clearly doesn’t have the technique of some of the Brazilian fighters earlier in the night as Gunderson escapes and looks to pass. Schultz stands and Gunderson quickly pulls guard and Schultz passes to top-half. Schultz pushes Gunderson further and further into the side rope looking to grind out some equalizing position to make the round much closer for the judges. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Gunderson.
The final round starts with both fighters swinging for the fences and Schultz landing a takedown. Gunderson is quick to scramble, but Schultz keeps him on his back where Gunderson recovers to full guard. Schultz keeps the pressure up and keeps busy with occasional strikes as he continues to move Gunderson across the ring as a show of control and dominance. Gunderson briefly appears to have a guillotine but lets go. Schultz then pushes Gunderson into Gunderson’s own corner and blasts away with some effective shots to end the round as the fight goes to the scorecards once again. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Schultz.
Both men appear to have energy left in their tanks to start the fourth stanza. Gunderson lands a nice right hook and continues to press the action. He then switches levels and takes down the champ. Schultz looks to escape but Gunderson takes a hold of his leg and throws him back to the ground and looks to turn the tide in the fight with more punishment via ground and pound. Schultz does a good job of staying calm, but is unable to get off his back. Both fighters get back to their feet and throw some bombs and Gunderson lands some nice knees as the round ends. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Gunderson.
Schultz gets the takedown to start the fifth and final round. Gunderson gets the hometown crowd on their feet with a near one-arm guillotine that appeared to be momentarily deep. The champ escapes and works to pass and advances to Gunderson’s half guard. The ref stands them up with 1:15 left and Gunderson’s corner is screaming for him to throw some hands. Schultz lands another possibly deciding takedown, but is still completely unable to do anything with it. There is an even amount of support for both fighters as the final seconds tick off the clock. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Schultz. This was a very close title fight, but OTM gives Schultz the nod 48-47 for Schultz. All three judges agree and give the champion Ryan Schultz the Unanimous Decision victory allowing him to retain the IFL lightweight title.
Fabiano “Pega-Leve” Scherner (Team Quest) vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson (Lion’s Den) – Heavyweight Championship Bout
Roy Nelson and Fabiano Scherner touch gloves and start trading heavy hands. Nelson pushes Scherner into the corner and locks up a single that he successfully uses to drive Scherner to the ground. Nelson is looking for a standing pass, as Scherner is flat on his back. Nelson works for the pass steadily and throws punches as Scherner looks to defend. Nelson now locks on a Matt Hughes-like crucifix position by trapping one of Scherner's arms from the top of side-control and lands strikes as Scherner tucks his head into Roy’s armpit to avoid further damage and possibly sweep with his one underhook. Nelson backs up slightly to open up a little and Scherner looks to escape. However, Big Country rewards his efforts by nearly throwing him half way across the ring and then put a quick and abrupt end to things with two huge bombs that rocked Scherner’s world, ending the fight via TKO at the 3:20 mark of the first round.
Ryan McGivern (Miletich Fighting Systems) vs. Matt “Suave” Horwich (Team Quest) – Middleweight Championship Bout
Both fighters start the fight by throwing lots of hands with Matt Horwich (who got married the following day in Vegas) getting the better of the exchanges. Ryan McGivern starts looking for foot stomps and lands a hip throw for the takedown. McGivern starts working from side control, but Horwich escapes and they both stand again. After a brief exchange McGivern clinches Horwich and looks for a takedown against the ropes. The ref breaks them up and Horwich lands a hard right hook. McGivern clinches the champ up and lands a knee against the corner ropes. They trade some bomnbs once again as the round ends. OTM scores the round 10-9 for McGivern.
McGivern secures a takedown after both men traded punches. Horwich works his half-guard as McGivern looks to pass. Pat Miletich is shouting for McGivern to be patient, but the crowd is not and starts booing do to the lack of action. McGivern starts to lock in a keylock from the top of half-guard, but Horwich defends. McGivern now passes to side control and uses his wrestling prowess to make it tight and uncomfortable for Horwich. Horwich is no stranger to the ground, recovers to half-guard, and uses a beautiful omoplata to reverse crucifix, which ties McGivern up like a pretzel and quickly gets the crowd back into the fight as time runs out and saves McGivern. Horwich jumps up cheering, as he thinks the belt signifying the end of the round was a bell sounding from a tapout. His coach Matt Lindland quickly tells him to calm down and take a seat in the corner. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Horwich.
Both fighters start the third frame by swinging for the fences with McGivern clinching Horwich against his corner rope. Horwich drops levels looking for a takedown of his own. They push off and start throwing some more hands with an occasional kick. Horwich then lands a high kick, which is answered with a McGivern uppercut. McGivern pushes Horwich into the corner after being kneed in the stomach. Horwich shows good takedown defense and pushes off to get some striking range. Horwich lands another high kick that seems to irritate McGivern. Horwich then looks to utilize a Thai clinch briefly and both fighters exchange powerful kicks to the body as the round ends. OTM scores the round 10-9 for Horwich.
They trade hands and Horwich looks for another head kick. They tie up in a wrestling clinch and Horwich lands some good dirty boxing uppercuts. McGivern looks for a wizzer and Horwich appears to be looking to swim to McGivern’s back. They separate and trade briefly with McGivern stunning Horwich with a right, which he responds instinctively with a left body kick. Horwich now works to McGivern’s back while standing and jumps on McGivern’s back looking for the RNC. McGivern spins into Horwich’s guard and the ref re-centers them away from the ropes. McGivern is looking to pass Horwich’s half-guard, but the ref stands them both up. McGivern lands a right uppercut and Horwich responds by running him backwards into the ropes as the fourth frame comes to a close. OTM scores the round 10-9 for McGivern.
The final round starts with McGivern looking for an uppercut and Horwich throwing more body kicks. McGivern starts throwing straight punches down the pipe, which Horwich answers with a knee before both fighters clinch in the corner again. Horwich keeps looking for knees inside the clinch and the ref separates them due to inactivity. McGivern is now landing the crisper more effective punches and clinches Horwich back up into the corner with 1:20 left in this middleweight title fight. Horwich throws a kick-punch comb, but McGivern lands another right uppercut, which have been his bread and butter the entire fight. McGivern lands a hard straight body shot and pushed Horwich into the corner as the final bell of the night signals the end of the fight. OTM scores the final round 10-9 for McGivern and scores the fight 48-47 for McGivern. The judges once again agree and award the Unanimous Decision victory to the challenger, which in turn makes the late replacement Ryan McGivern the new IFL middleweight champion.
IFL - Las Vegas (February 29, 2008)
Match Winner Loser Method Round Time
1 Ian Loveland over Dennis Davis Submission (Guillotine Choke) Round 2, 0:58
2 Rafael Dias over Santino DeFranco Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 1, 2:03
3 Josh Haynes over Leopoldo Serao Decision (Unanimous) Round 3, 4:00
4 Alexandre Ferreira over Lew Polley Submission (Guillotine Choke) Round 1, 0:20
5 Jake Ellenberger over Pat Healy Decision (Unanimous) Round 3, 4:00
6 Ryan Schultz over John Gunderson Decision (Unanimous) Round 5, 4:00
7 Roy Nelson over Fabiano Scherner TKO (Punches) Round 1, 3:20
8 Ryan McGivern over Matt Horwich Decision (Unanimous) Round 5, 4:00