by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
The International Fight League, on the cusp of revamping its format for 2008, closes out 2007 by naming five individual champions, who will then defend their belts in the coming year. Those five champions will capture their titles on Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. at the IFL Grand Prix Finals.
IFL FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
LC DAVIS VS. WAGNNEY FABIANO
Midwest fighter LC Davis takes on submission specialist Wagnney Fabiano for the IFL featherweight championship. Davis has a 9-0 record and trains out of the American Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Missouri. Fabiano has an 8-1 record and trains out of Nova Uniao with Marcos Galvao.
Davis comes off a split decision victory over Conor Heun at the IFL Team Semifinals 2007, while Fabiano submitted John Gunderson at the IFL Grand Prix Semifinals.
Fabiano was originally slated to face Chris Horodecki for the lightweight championship, but instead will move down to his natural weight division. Davis gets the biggest opportunity of his career, but at the same time the toughest challenge.
Fabiano has finished all of his opponents in the IFL by submission and has looked impressive doing it. His strength is on the ground and if it gets there then Davis could very well be done.
Davis needs to keep the fight on feet at any cost if he wants any chance of winning the fight. The other knock on Davis is that he hasn’t faced quality opposition like Fabiano has and that will play a big factor into the fight.
Fabiano will take the fight to the ground right off the bat and finish Davis early to become the IFL featherweight champion.
Prediction: Wagnney Fabiano by submission in the first round.
IFL LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
CHRIS HORODECKI VS. RYAN SCHULTZ
Young-striking phenom Chris Horodecki takes on rugged wrestler Ryan Schultz for the IFL lightweight championship. Horodecki has an 11-0 record and trains out of Xtreme Couture with Shawn Tompkins. Schultz has a 17-9-1 record and at Team Quest in Oregon with Chris Wilson.
Horodecki comes off a decision victory over Bart Palaszewski at the IFL Grand Prix Semifinals. Schultz comes off a decision victory over Aaron Riley at the IFL Team Finals 2007.
These two fighters met about a year ago with Horodecki brutally knocking out Schultz. Schultz is actually the second replacement for Horodecki as his previous two opponents have pulled out due to injury, not to mention he was originally supposed to face Fabiano.
Horodecki is undefeated in the IFL and has become its biggest star. He is now poised to claim his first title in MMA.
Schultz needs to take this fight to the ground as soon as he can or else he will meet the same fate that he did when these two first met. Horodecki should be able to keep this fight on the feet though and punish Schultz with strikes before eventually stopping him midway through the fight.
Prediction: Chris Horodecki by TKO in the second round.
IFL WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
JAY HIERON VS. DELSON HELENO
Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Jay Hieron takes on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Delson Heleno for the IFL welterweight championship. Hieron has a 13-4 record and trains out of Xtreme Couture with Mike Pyle. Heleno has a 13-3 record and trains with the Gracie Barra Combat Team in Brazil.
Hieron comes off a decision victory over Donnie Liles at the IFL Grand Prix Semifinals, while Heleno submitted Gideon Ray at the IFL Grand Prix Semifinals.
This is probably one of the more evenly matched fights of the night as both fighters are at the top of their games. Hieron has fought all over the place and is one of the more talented welterweights in the sport.
Heleno has successfully made the transition from the grappling world over to MMA to become one of the better welterweights in the IFL. On the ground, he has the advantage when it comes to submissions, but Hieron is the stronger wrestler of the two.
The fight could very well be decided on the feet, as the fighter who can control the tempo of the fight on the feet will be able to better execute the takedown. This fight is going to be very close and it’s going to come down who wants it more.
Hieron will be able to control the fight on feet and take the fight to the ground as he pleases, but expect Heleno to get his shots in too to make this fight close.
Prediction: Jay Hieron by decision.
IFL MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
BENJI RADACH VS. MATT HORWICH
Resurgent UFC veteran Benji Radach takes on the very experienced Matt Horwich for the IFL middleweight championship. Radach has a 17-3 record and trains out of American Top Team with Wilson Gouveia. Horwich has a 20-9-1 record and trains out of Team Quest in Oregon with Matt Lindland.
Radach comes off a knockout victory over Brent Beauparlant at the IFL Grand Prix Semifinals, while Horwich submitted Brian Foster at the same show.
Radach has been an absolute force since coming back from injury, finishing all of his opponents in the IFL. Horwich has had an up and down tenure in the IFL, but has put together a string of wins to get him back on track.
The advantage on the feet goes to Radach. He is also the better wrestler of the two fighters, while Horwich is the better submission fighter of the two. Radach needs to punish Horwich on the feet and not let him get into his groove on the ground.
Radach should be able to keep Horwich on the defensive the entire fight and not let him get off, finishing him late in the fight with strikes.
Prediction: Benji Radach by TKO in the third round.
IFL HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
ROY NELSON VS. ANTOINE JAOUDE
Grappling heavyweight Roy Nelson takes on Marco Ruas disciple Antoine Jaoude for the IFL heavyweight championship. Nelson has a 10-2 record and trains out of Las Vegas. Antoine Jaoude has an 8-2 record and trains out of Ruas Vale Tudo with Marco Ruas.
Nelson comes off a stoppage victory over Bryan Vetell at the IFL Grand Prix Semifinals, while Jaoude submitted Shane Ott at the same show.
Outside of Ben Rothwell, these two fighters are the best heavyweights in the IFL and are head and shoulders above the rest of the division. It’s going to be battle of attrition between these two for the title.
Nelson has shown in recent fights that he can throw down and isn’t just a grappler, but a potent striker as well. Jaoude uses his dominant wrestling game to control and frustrate his opponents on the way to victory.
Nelson will control the fight on the feet, which will force Jaoude to take the fight to the ground in hopes of controlling the fight. Jaoude will control the fight from top with his wrestling en route to winning a decision.
Prediction: Antoine Jaoude by decision.