by Joe Pawlus for MMAWeekly.com (Photos by Thomas Rozdzynski)
(Photos courtesy of Thomas Rozdzynski – http://www.thrumyeye.com)
By Joe Pawlus
Saturday’s IFL superfight spawned from the land of legends as world-renown striker Maurice Smith battled Condor coach Marco Ruas. Despite high expectations, the fight lacked any significant action for the first three rounds.
“I was a little mad that the crowd was booing,” said Silverbacks’ coach Pat Militich. “The crowd was leaving before the fight finished and they really missed out on an exciting ending. They didn’t recognize that Smith was playing possum as part of his game plan.”
Neither fighter seemed willing to engage as they played a standup game of cat and mouse for the first few rounds.
“Anyone can be knocked out in MMA at any time, so why would I take the chance by coming out too strong? There is nobody who can stand and strike with me. I am known as one of the best strikers in the world. I saved my energy and finished the fight the way I wanted,” said Smith.
Smith came alive in the fourth round as he unleashed devastating combinations that sent Ruas to the mat three times. Ruas’ corner eventually threw in the towel to end the contest.
One of the most anticipated matches of the evening between the Red Bears’ Mark Miller and Silverback Josh Neer ended as quickly as it began. Miller came out gunning and caught Neer with a flurry of strikes. Miller landed a big right hook to Neer’s jaw knocking him down and out in under a minute of round one.
“It was awesome to have this type of win over a well-tested fighter like Josh,” said Miller. “It was a great win for me and for my team. I want to fight the best and Neer falls into that category.” Neer, who appeared visibly upset after the loss, said he didn’t get a chance to unfold his game plan.
The most exciting bout was generated from the heavyweight division as Condor team member Antoine Jaoude vanquished Razor Claw Dan Christison in a unanimous decision. Both fighters were content to stand and trade huge punches and kicks for most of the 12-minute fight. The decision ultimately hinged on Jaoude’s ability to take his opponent to the ground at will.
“I stuffed most of the takedown attempts. I mean he only got, what, five or six of them,” Christison joked after the fight.
Travis Fulton, who agreed to fight on two weeks notice, received a brutal pounding at the hands of Ben Rothwell. Surprisingly enough, Rothwell closed the fight with a textbook kimura from side control.
“Now fans will know I’m not just a bruiser, I have some other skills,” said Rothwell.
The IFL is obviously gaining momentum as nearly 6,000 fans showed up to fill the Sears Center.
When asked about the comparisons between the UFC and the IFL, Pat Militich offered a candid response.
“Unlike the UFC, the IFL organization cares about the fighters and their careers.”