by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photos courtesy IFL.tv)
So far it’s been a rough ride for the IFL’s Razorclaws team. Coached by former UFC/Pancrase Champion Frank Shamrock, the team went 0-1 in the second season of the IFL last year, and things haven’t gotten any better as the team dropped it’s 2007 opener to Frank’s brother Ken Shamrock’s Lions in January.
Even with the adversity the team has faced so far in its existence, there is hope as they prepare for their upcoming showdown with the Bas Rutten-coached Anacondas on March 17th in Los Angeles, California.
The team has seen a major infusion of talent since this past January, including the return of veteran light-heavyweight Brian Ebersole, and the additions of former TUF heavyweight Dan Christison and Colorado standout welterweight Donnie Liles.
Along with the new talent the team has acquired, returning lightweight Josh Odom looks to help lead the team to a big upset on the 17th, both in the team battle and in his own individual fight against the currently undefeated Chris Horodecki.
Odom, who has been with the team since its inception last year, knows that if he and his teammates are to pull of the upset against the Anacondas, they have to perform better than they did this past January against the Lions.
“I wasn’t extremely happy with my performance,” said Josh of his loss to the Lions’ John Gunderson. “I fought a guy with more experience than me. We went at a pretty fast pace. I knocked him down with a right hand, almost had the armbar, and he went for a toe hold and caught me in a triangle.”
Odom continued, “We were just going at a pace where someone was going to get caught with something. You win some, you lose some, and I’ve gotten better since then and [I] keep moving ahead.”
Josh is optimistic that in the team battle the new additions to the team could just very well turn the tide against the IFL’s top-ranked Anacondas.
“The team now, we’ve got three new guys starting with this fight in L.A. and the team is definitely stronger now than our last team,” exclaimed Odom. “So we’ll see how it goes. We’ve got some more experienced guys now, like our 205′er, Brian Ebersole, he has tons of experience, so I think we’ll do fairly well.”
Individually Josh has one of the toughest tasks ahead of him in facing off against Chris Horodecki, the currently undefeated breakout star in the IFL’s lightweight division.
“It’s going to be a big one,” explained Odom. “His stand-up is super, but I’m pretty much going to stand with him and see how that goes.”
“That’s how I pretty much look at every fight – if I do well on my feet, that’s where it stays, if I feel like I’m losing that battle, then I’ll work some submissions. I believe it’s going to be war,” further commented Josh.
With the IFL’s new 12-month schedule for this season, it’s going to be a rough grind for teams that cannot perform well early and move themselves into the tournament bracket or individual tournaments at year’s end.
According to Odom, the Razorclaws are feeling the pressure now, and that this March 17th battle could very well set the pace for the remainder of the year for the team.
“The schedule is pretty tough,” admitted Josh. “I don’t like fighting this close between fights. I like having some time off between fights, because this mentally wears you down a little bit, but whatever. You’re making good money and it keeps you training all the time, so that’s good.”
Odom added, “This next show, for the team and for me, is kind of must-win for us, so we can move into the team semi-finals or individually move onto that championship there.”
A lot of the teams’ success both as a group and individually could come down to coaching, where Frank Shamrock has asserted himself as the undisputed team leader. To that fact, Josh feels the Razorclaws are better off than some other teams may be, due to Shamrock’s nature.
“Frank is great, he’s a great coach, and more than that he’s a great friend and looks out for us,” explained Odom. “He’s fiercely competitive, loves to win, and to him, everything is based on performance. If you go in there and give it all you’ve got, have a great fight, win or lose, he’ll work with you on what you need to improve and move on.”
So with March 17th just around the corner, it could very well be make or break for Josh Odom and the Razorclaws against the Anacondas.
With the pressure mounting, Josh knows that only good things can come from everyone stepping up and making sure the team can advance, giving fans an entertaining show in the process.
“I want to thank all my training partners out here, my team, Frank, our boxing coach Tony, our conditioning coach Joe, they push us all really hard,” closed out Odom. “To the fans, thank you for your support, and if you’re going to be out in L.A. come out to the show, it’s going to be a war between the Anacondas and Razorclaws. If you can’t make it, check it out on FSN.”