by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
The IFL has finally completed its first full season and only four teams remain in the pursuit to become the 2007 IFL Team Champion. In the first semi-final, the Los Angeles Anacondas meet the Quad City Silverbacks. In the half of the bracket, the Tokyo Sabres take on the New York Pitbulls. The two victorious teams will move on to the finals in September at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
Los Angeles Anacondas vs. Quad City Silverbacks
Injuries have ravaged the Los Angeles Anacondas as two of their top fighters are out with injuries, leaving them with a distinct disadvantage heading into their semi-final match-up with the reigning champion Silverbacks. At lightweight, the Anacondas were forced to replace two fighters finally ending up with journeyman Harris Sarmiento. Although a tough fighter, Sarmiento has faltered against top competition and it shouldn’t be any different against Bart Palaszewski, who has only tasted defeat once in his IFL career.
Welterweight Jay Hieron is out due to injury for the Anacondas and replacing him is striker Chris Clements, who fights out of Team Tompkins in Canada. Rory Markham of the Silverbacks has only fought once this year due to a string of injuries, but he has the experience factor over the younger fighter Clements and should use it to full advantage to overtake the IFL newcomer.
In the middleweight match-up, Benji Radach of the Anacondas takes on replacement Gerald Harris of the Silverbacks. Harris impressed in his IFL debut with impressive slams and strikes as he lost a close decision to Fabio Leopoldo. Radach has yet to taste defeat in the IFL and he should continue his streak with a close decision victory over Harris.
In a Light Heavyweight match-up, Alex Schoenauer of the Anacondas takes on Mike Ciesnolevicz of the Silverbacks. These fighters have met before with Ciesnolevicz winning a controversial decision over Schoenauer. Schoenauer has improved since starting in the IFL and look for him to lock on a submission on Ciesnolevicz to exact his revenge.
Finally the in the heavyweight match-up, Krzysztof Soszynski of the Anacondas faces off with Ben Rothwell for a second time. Rothwell is easily the best heavyweight in the IFL and has yet to taste defeat. Expect this fight to be more competitive than their first fight, but Rothwell should be able to get the job done again.
Prediction: Quad City Silverbacks over the Los Angeles Anacondas
Tokyo Sabres vs. New York Pitbulls
The Tokyo Sabres have been the most improved team in the IFL and they take on the Gracie trained New York Pitbulls in the final semi-final. In the lightweight match-up, Savant Young of the Sabres takes on Erik Owings of the Pitbulls. Young has been much improved since moving down to lightweight and will look to keep that up. Owings has had some growing pains since debuting in the IFL and it should continue here as he will drop a decision to Young.
Two of the IFL’s top welterweights meet in the next match-up as Antonio McKee of the Sabres takes on Delson “Pe de Chumbo” Heleno of the Pitbulls. McKee has a dominating wrestling style that basically shuts down his opponent’s offense. Heleno is one of the bigger and more talented welterweights in the IFL and has also shown his dominance in the division. It’s going to be a close fight but look for Heleno to outmuscle McKee and win a close decision.
In the middleweight match-up, two newcomers face off as David Phillips of the Sabres takes on Dan Miller of the Pitbulls. Both fighters are fairly unknown to the general MMA public, but Miller seems to have fought the tougher competition of the two and should have a slight edge over the debuting Phillips. This is pretty much a toss-up, but I’ll take Miller by decision in a battle of unknowns.
In the light heavyweight match-up, Vladimir Matyushenko of the Sabres takes on Jamal Patterson of the Pitbulls. Both fighters are top-notch grapplers and are the cream of the crop in the IFL. Matyushenko has simply dominated all of his opponents in the IFL and Patterson should be his toughest test to date in the IFL, but I see him taking a decision over Patterson.
In a heavyweight match-up, Wayne Cole of the Sabres takes on Bryan Vetell of the Pitbulls. Both fighters are on the lower tier of the heavyweights in the IFL. Both of them will be looking to prove that they are indeed better fighters than they have shown in the IFL. With that being said, look for Vetell to use his size advantage to muscle a submission over Cole in the late stages of the fight.
Prediction: Tokyo Sabres over the New York Pitbulls