by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
After an opening round of the Grand Prix tournament to crown the first ever champions in the organization, the International Fight League decided to pull original lightweight finalist Wagnney Fabiano out of his slot and place him in line for a newly created featherweight title. His previous opponent, Chris Horodecki, is now on his third opponent in as many weeks.
Commissioner Kurt Otto addressed the reasoning behind pulling Fabiano, who went undefeated at lightweight last season for the IFL, and creating a featherweight division for the Grand Prix finals.
“Wagnney is a lean guy. He’s a small guy,” said Otto. “He wished that we had a 145-pound weight class, but because we didn’t, he was forced to fight at (155 pounds). Granted, he was finishing everybody in under one minute, but still this is a situation where who knows? That fight could happen in ‘08 between Wagnney and Chris Horodecki if we want that to happen, if that makes sense.”
He expressed the promotion’s desire to crown a featherweight champion now as opposed to create a weight class for next season and then crown a titleholder during the season.
“Why would we have a guy fight for a belt, and let’s say he wins the 155-pound belt, why would we have him fight when he’s going to a different weight class and then establish a new title fight?” Otto stated. “Let’s do it now. Let’s establish it so we can start with a clean slate.”
Apparently, Fabiano had voiced his desire to drop to a lower weight and fight, but until now, the IFL has not had a 145-pound division.
“At the end of the day if Wagnney’s intentions were to fight at 145 because he knew we were switching to that format, (and) he said ‘guys I want to fight where I’m comfortable and these guys after they weigh in are 170 pounds, I’m still 144 pounds, it’s a little unfair for me. I mean I’m doing my best, but I would prefer being at 145.’”
Since Fabiano has been rescheduled to fight for the new featherweight championship, a replacement fighter has been hard pressed to stay healthy as the IFL is now on its third opponent for Horodecki to face for the lightweight title.
“First we went with Shad Lierley. He broke his toe. His bone went through the skin,” said Otto about the first replacement for the fight. “Then we had John Gunderson who had an existing hand injury. He assured us he was good to go, re-injured that hand during practice preparing for the fight. And then the next guy in line with our seeding was Ryan Schultz, who took the fight in a heartbeat and he’s healthy and ready to go.”
Chris Horodecki is now set to face Ryan Schultz for the first ever IFL lightweight title, while Wagnney Fabiano will square off against L.C. Davis for the featherweight championship at the finals for the IFL Grand Prix set for Dec. 29 in Connecticut.