by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
The International Fight League will complete its first full season on Thursday night, when the defending champion Quad Cities Silverbacks take on the New York Pitbulls. Former UFC champion Pat Miletich coaches the Silverbacks. Pride veteran and ADCC Submission Wrestling Champion Renzo Gracie coaches the Pitbulls.
BART PALASZEWSKI VS. DEIVIDAS TAUROSEVICIUS
Quad Cities Silverbacks lightweight Bart Palaszewski takes on New York Pitbulls lightweight Deividas Taurosevicius. Bart Palaszewski has a 28-8 record in MMA and trains out of Team Curran with Jeff Curran. Deividas Taurosevicius has an 8-2 record in MMA and trains out of Team Renzo Gracie with Renzo Gracie. Palaszewski comes off a submission victory over Harris Sarmiento at the IFL 2007 World Team Championship semifinals. Taurosevicius defeated Savant Young by decision, also at the IFL 2007 World Team Championship semifinals.
What was once a sure win for the Silverbacks is now a fairly even fight. Palaszewski has only tasted defeat once in the IFL, but has had trouble with ground-oriented fighters, where he has narrowly escaped defeat with a pair of split decision victories. Taurosevicius replaced an injured Erik Owings in the semi-finals and earned a permanent spot on the team with his impressive performance against Savant Young.
Palaszewski will look to keep this fight on the feet and tag Taurosevicius with strikes, while Taurosevicius will try to take it to the ground and work for a submission. Palaszewski has been one of the IFL’s more consistent fighters, but his lack of a solid ground game will prove to be his downfall as Taurosevicius will take Palaszewski down and grind out a decision victory.
Prediction: Deividas Taurosevicius by decision. (Pitbulls 1 – Silverbacks 0)
JAKE ELLENBERGER VS. DELSON HELENO
Quad Cities Silverbacks welterweight Jake Ellenberger takes on New York Pitbulls welterweight Delson Heleno. Jake Ellenberger has a 15-2 record in MMA and trains out of MidAmerica Martial Arts with Ryan Jensen. Delson Heleno has an 11-3 record in MMA and trains out of the Gracie Barra Combat Team in Brazil. Ellenberger comes off a stoppage victory over UFC veteran Zack Light at Bodog Fight: Costa Rica. Heleno lost a close split decision to Antonio McKee at the IFL 2007 World Team Championship semifinals.
Ellenberger is an injury replacement for the Silverbacks’ regular welterweight Rory Markham. Heleno has been dominant in the IFL, only losing a close decision to McKee, who is undefeated in the IFL.
Ellenberger is a good wrestler, so look for him to take the fight to the ground and pound on Heleno from the top with punches. Heleno is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion. He will want to work submissions on the ground. At the end of the day, this fight is going to end up on the ground and Ellenberger will be at a disadvantage because Heleno is worlds better on the ground. Heleno will eventually lock on a fight-ending submission.
Prediction: Delson Heleno by submission in the first round. (Pitbulls 2 – Silverbacks 0)
RYAN MCGIVERN VS. FABIO LEOPOLDO
Quad Cities Silverbacks middleweight Ryan McGivern takes on New York Pitbulls middleweight Fabio Leopoldo. Ryan McGivern has a 10-5 record in MMA and trains out of Miletich Fighting Systems with Rory Markham. Fabio Leopoldo has a 5-2 record in MMA and trains out of Gracie Barra Combat Team in Brazil. McGivern was submitted by Tim Kennedy in May at the IFL’s event in Chicago. Leopoldo comes off an injury loss to Brent Beauparlant in June at the IFL’s event in Las Vegas.
These fighters have already met once with Leopoldo victorious, winning by submission. McGivern missed out on the semi-finals because he was getting married, while Leopoldo sat out because on an arm injury.
McGivern is primarily a wrestler and hasn’t shown much else in other aspects of the fight game. Leopoldo is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and has slowly been improving his stand-up. Look for Leopoldo to get this fight on the ground early and lock on a submission to once again defeat McGivern.
Prediction: Fabio Leopoldo by submission in the first round. (Pitbulls 3 – Silverbacks 0)
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
MIKE CIESNOLEVICZ VS. ANDRE GUSMAO
Quad Cities Silverbacks light heavyweight Mike Ciesnolevicz takes on New York Pitbulls light heavyweight Andre Gusmao. Mike Ciesnolevicz has a 13-2 record in MMA and trains out of Miletich Fighting Systems with Ben Rothwell. Andre Gusmao has a 4-0 record in MMA and trains out of Team Renzo Gracie with Renzo Gracie. Ciesnolevicz comes off a close decision victory over Alex Schoenauer at the IFL 2007 World Team Championship semifinals. Gusmao submitted Wojtek Kaszowski in June at the IFL’s event in Las Vegas.
These fighters have also met once before with Gusmao looking impressive in stopping the more experienced Ciesnolevicz with strikes.
Ciesnolevicz has squeaked by on several occasions in the IFL by winning a close decision, just like in his last fight against Schoenauer. Gusmao has looked like a complete beast in his short MMA career, mixing strength with technique.
Once again this fight shouldn’t be much different than their first encounter. Expect Gusmao to overpower Ciesnolevicz on the ground and pound out another impressive stoppage.
Prediction: Andre Gusmao by TKO in the first round. (Pitbulls 4 – Silverbacks 0)
BEN ROTHWELL VS. RICCO RODRIGUEZ
Quad Cities Silverbacks heavyweight Ben Rothwell takes on New York Pitbulls heavyweight Ricco Rodriguez. Ben Rothwell has a 26-5 record in MMA and trains out of Miletich Fighting Systems with Tim Sylvia. Ricco Rodriguez has a 26-6 record in MMA and trains out of the American Fight Club. Rothwell TKO’d Krzysztof Soszynski at the IFL 2007 World Team Championship semifinals. Rodriguez comes off a TKO stoppage victory over Lloyd Marshbanks at MMA Xtreme 13.
Rothwell is undefeated in the IFL and has only come close to defeat once, barely winning a decision over Roy Nelson several months ago. Rodriguez is a late replacement as three heavyweights had to bow out of the fight against Rothwell.
Rothwell has some serious power in his hands. He has demonstrated such in the IFL by defeating the majority of his opponents by either knockout or TKO stoppage due to strikes. Rodriguez has gone through a long and strange journey throughout his MMA career, from being the UFC heavyweight champion to losing a decision in Rage in the Cage. He has struggled with a lack of motivation, which led to his demise as a premier fighter in MMA.
At the end of the day, look for Rothwell to drag this fight out the third round where his better conditioning will help him wear down Rodriguez, who shouldn’t have much in the gas tank due to taking the fight on such short notice.
Prediction: Ben Rothwell by TKO in the third round. (Pitbulls 4 – Silverbacks 1)
IFL WORLD TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Prediction: New York Pitbulls defeat Quad Cities Silverbacks 4-1.