by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
This past weekend Carlos Newton’s IFL Toronto Dragons took a big step towards qualifying for the 2007 IFL World Team Tournament with their impressive 4-1 victory over Don Frye’s Tucson Scorpions at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
With the win the Dragons move into a tie for the fourth and final playoff spot with the Seattle Tiger Sharks and the two-time defending league champion Quad Cities Silverbacks.
Not one to take too much time off to enjoy the victory, Dragon’s Head Coach Carlos Newton is already thinking ahead to his squad’s pivotal June 16th clash with Renzo Gracie’s New York Pitbulls in Reno, Nevada.
Shortly after the Dragons’ victory, Newton took time out for MMAWeekly to discuss his team’s successful weekend, their future, and what lays ahead for his own fighting career.
MMAWeekly: First off Carlos, tell us your thoughts on your team’s overall performance this weekend versus the Scorpions.
Carlos Newton: It was good. We really did calculate it down to the last second of every match. Right down to how the wins and losses on the other teams went too. We calculated every inch of that thing.
MMAWeekly: And what about the performances of each individual Dragons fighter?
Carlos Newton: For our lightweight [Wagnney Fabiano], we calculated that it was going to turn out that way. We pretty much looked at the other guy’s [Cam Ward] strengths, looked at Wagnney’s strengths, and we were quite certain that was a win we could put in our back pockets. From a coaching point that was a win we were counting on and he pulled through.
Gideon [Ray] did a great job. He did a lot better than we expected him to. He brought it. He was very excited to be on the team; and he just went out there and said, “I’m going to show you how happy I am to be on this team,” and he went out there and kicked butt.
Middleweight, we knew that was going to be a tough fight too, but we’re very proud that Brent [Beauparlant] pulled it off. He actually did a lot better than we expected him to, because we knew the fight would be very tough.
For the light-heavyweights, Wojtek [Kaszowski], we knew he would have a hell of a time with Mike Whitehead, and he did have a hell of a time. I think Mike Whitehead is probably the toughest 205′er in the league.
Our heavyweight, Shane Ott, a late replacement for Rafael [Feijao], he did a lot better than we expected him to do. He really surprised us and he’s a guy we’re going to try to move onto our team in some position, some way if we can. We’re keeping him close by now. We’re quite happy to pull off that 4-1 [victory].
MMAWeekly: The Dragons have had quite a bit of turnover in their roster since their inception last season. Do you feel this most recent line-up will be the one you take into your showdown with the Pitbulls in Reno on June 16th?
Carlos Newton: I think the line-up for that show is going to be pretty much the way it is right now. Our heavyweight, Rafael, will be back in some shape or form. The light-heavyweight division, we’re looking at what we can do about that, whether or not we can give Wojtek one more shot at it. We have to try to sort those things out, because we’re going to bring the top guns to beat the Pitbulls, they’re a very tough team right now.
MMAWeekly: Give us your early thoughts on having to face the Pitbulls next.
Carlos Newton: The Pitbulls are a really tough match-up for the Dragons. I think me and Renzo have very similar styles and backgrounds that reflect on our teams. It’s going to be a tough fight, that’s all I need to say. We need to beat those guys, beat them more than 3-2.
We’ve pretty much saved the best team for last. It gave the fighters a chance to work themselves up gradually and rise to that challenge. We’re ready to do it, we’re going to come out and pull it off. We’re going to have to work real hard, everyone’s going to have to put our thinking caps on and derive a strategy as to how we’re going to pull that off.
MMAWeekly: Regardless of how the team does next time, there’s also going to be the individual tournaments at year’s end. I know a lot of people are starting to buzz about Wagnney for that. What are your thoughts on him being in the individual tournament?
Carlos Newton: I think for sure you could look for Wagnney in the World Grand Prix in the lightweight [division], and I think it’s going to be a hell of a showing for him. They take the top guys with the best records from the season, and I have to say that Wagnney is one of those guys.
MMAWeekly: Okay, now let’s talk about your fighting career, anything on the horizon?
Carlos Newton: I do have some fights coming up. The time and dates haven’t been sorted out; it’s more of a scheduling thing right now. I’m looking to fight for another couple organizations out there that want me to fight, and we just need to get some dates hammered down and go from there.
MMAWeekly: There are no hints or anything you could give us to what’s coming up for you?
Carlos Newton: Not yet. [Laughs] I can’t let the cat out of the bag. I have to stay hush-hush about things because there’s been a lot of shuffling around in the industry right now, and people are stepping on one another’s toes, and we don’t want to do the same thing.
MMAWeekly: Good stuff Carlos, is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?
Carlos Newton: I’d like to thank all the fans for supporting the Dragons. We’re the only team in Canada right now, and they’re putting us on the map. A big shout-out to all my team, all the Dragons, you guys fought really well, really hard and I think everyone out there is really proud of you.
The IFL is doing an excellent job. They’re the best organization out there and it’s where the best are going to fight the best. It’s happening, we’re going to have a great show coming up and look out for the Dragons and support us on June 16th.