by Tom Hamlin for MMAWeekly.com
Pitbulls Clinch Playoff Spot, Lions Dominate Scorpions
Saturday, June 16- Las Vegas: In its final regular season offering, the International Fight League featured a submission-heavy evening of fights. The sellout crowd of 3,200 Las Vegans was surely the quietest crowd this side of Tokyo, but their presence was an encouraging sign for the fledgling promotion, who made their first incursion into the home turf of the UFC.
Toronto Dragons vs. New York Pitbulls:
Middleweights: Brent Beauparlant vs. Fabio Leopoldo
In a one-sided three round affair, Dragon Brent Beauparlant shed all preconceptions of his favor for the ground game, battering Pitbull Fabio Leopoldo in an impressive kickboxing clinic. Early on, his inside leg kicks battered the Pitbull, following them with an onslaught of body punches that had the Gracie disciple bicycling away. After taking Leopoldo down, Beauparlant nearly got caught napping as his foe threw up an armbar, but managed to escape at the end of the first.
From there on, it was downhill for Leopoldo as he took an increasing amount of punishment to his midsecion via Beauparlant’s mix of straight rights and hooks. As Beauparlant reversed a single leg attempt from Leopoldo, the Pitbull clutched his shoulder in pain and tapped out at 2:22 of the 3rd.
Dragons: 1 Pitbulls: 0
Light Heavyweights: Wojtek Kaszowski vs. Andre Gusmao
After a short honeymoon on their feet, New York’s Gusmao caught Dragon Kaszowski’s leg kick and bided his time in half guard. As the Dragon attempted to reverse, Gusmao transitioned to an armbar, but settled for Kaszowski’s back as the two tangled in the ropes. With 7 seconds left to go, Gusmao cinched a modified rear naked choke, using his forearm to get the tapout at 3:53 of the 1st.
Dragons: 1 Pitbulls: 1
Lightweights: Wagney Fabiano vs. Erik Owings
Dragon Fabiano wasted no time in clinching and scoring an inside trip takedown against Owings, where he quickly transitioned into an armbar for a submission at :58 of the first.
Dragons: 2 Pitbulls 1
Welterweights: Gideon Ray vs. Delson Heleno
As his Pitbull brethren before him, Heleno quickly took Ray down and waited patiently in half guard before making the leap to mount. Ray showed a surprising resilience to Heleno’s submissions, powering through two armbar attempts to retort with a kneebar of his own. It was more of the same in the second, as Helson drove Ray to the ground and set up his jump to knee-on-belly-position. Ray briefly bucked Helson off, but ate a big right hand bomb in the process. Falling back into half guard, Delson caught Ray in a keylock, eliciting a lighting-quick verbal submision from Ray at 1:22 of the 2nd. The instant replay told the grim story, treating the audience to a close-up of Ray’s elbow visibly dislocating.
Dragons: 2 Pitbulls: 2
Heavyweights: Rafael Custodio vs. Marcio Cruz
Down to the wire on the team scoreboards, Pitbull Cruz incessantly battled Custodio for a single leg takedown, but Custodio’s balance was firm. When Cruz finally landed the takedown, Custodio reversed him in mid-air by blatantly grabbing the ropes, causing ref Mario Yamasaki to intervene for a point deduction on the Dragon’s scorecard. This would be the first of many infractions to come.
The night’s first controversy came in the third. After winning the second with a less-than-beautiful display of ground and pound, Cruz began the third in the same fashion. As Cruz postured up to rain down blows, Custodio winged an illegal upkick to Cruz’s jaw, prompting a warning from Yamasaki. After a restart, Cruz took Custodio down again, where Custodio let another illegal upkick go. Yamasaki immediately intervened, declaring Cruz the winner by disqualification.
Dragons: 2 Pitbulls: 3
Tucson Scorpions vs. Nevada Lions
Middleweights: Seth Baczynski vs. Dan Molina
Molina was a man possessed as he charged out at the bell, determined to take home his first win. It didn’t look good for the Lion as he fought off an early triangle and armbar attempt, but as Baczynski swept him, the 22 year old transitioned easily into a heel hook, cinching his first win in the IFL at 1:32 of the first.
Lions: 1 Scorpions: 0
Welterweights: Mike Guymon vs. Pat Healy
A war from start to finish, Scorpion Guymon pressured Healy early on, rocking him with a left hook that made Healy see stars. Healy wisely chose to go back to basics, taking Guymon down from the clinch. Unfortunately, it didn’t get any easier on the mat, as Guymon frustrated Healy with submission attempts from the bottom. A crushing right hand at the end of the first nearly put Healy out, but he managed to survive the bell.
The next rounds saw Healy take the fight to the mat as Guymon overcommitted to his punches. Healy twice maneuvered to Guymon’s back, but was unable to finish. In the end, Healy’s takedowns and ground control put him ahead on the scorecards, taking home a close split decision victory.
Lions: 2 Scorpions: 0
Lightweights: Gabe Casillas vs. John Gunderson
Lightweight Lion John Gunderson netted another impressive victory, outboxing Scorpion Casillas on the feet and controlling on the ground. Though Casillas proved a flexible opponent, gritting his teeth through a tight kimura that Gunderson just wouldn’t let go, he eventually succumbed to a rear naked choke the Lion slapped on in lieu of the arm submission.
Lions: 3 Scorpions: 0
Heavyweights: Roy Nelson vs. Shane Ott
Lion Roy Nelson scored early with a right that dropped Ott, prompting the Scorpion to take the fight to the ground. After a scramble on the ground, Ott quickly ran out of gas and spent the rest of the fight fending Nelson off from the clinch. Nelson nearly sunk in the rear naked choke twice, but couldn’t finish. With Ott hanging on for dear life, Nelsons superior cardio gave him the edge in points, walking away with a unanimous decision.
Lions: 4 Scorpions: 0
Light Heavyweights: Mike Whitehead vs. Vernon White
The blowout was almost complete for the Lions, but the night’s second controversy reared its head in this main event of sorts.
From the get-go, Whitehead’s size and power overwhelmed veteran Vernon “Tiger” White. Apart from a guillotine attempt in the opening salvo, White offered little resistance for the TUF 2 alum. Whitehead twice wrenched White’s left arm for a kimura, but settled for a flurry of punches from half-guard, ending the first with a serious of big left hands from Vernon’s back.
As Whitehead again ducked under White’s punches for a takedown, White rolled to his stomach and covered up. Whitehead began raining down blows on the prone White, stopping a few times to implore a stoppage from ref Steve Mazzagatti. In what appeared to be a major miscommunication, Mazzagatti appeared to heed Whitehead’s words, stopping the bout at :54 of the 2nd. White immediately sprung up, enraged at the stoppage, looking at Mazzagatti in disbelief.
“He can say what he wants about the stoppage,” Whitehead said afterwards. “The ref asked him, ‘Vernon, are you done?’ And he didn’t answer, so by not answering, it meant to the ref that he was done. If he was okay, he should have answered.”
Not surprisingly, White had a different take on the matter. “I thought he was stepping in to stop the fight because of the illegal punches to the back of the head,” White said. “I said ‘he’s punching me in the back of the head’ and the ref jumped in and stopped the bout and he’s raising [Whitehead's] hand. He warned him three times about punching to the back of the head, and the ref didn’t say anything.”
Lions: 4 Scorpions: 1
In other news, IFL commissioner Kurt Otto dispelled any rumors of a fallout with TV partner Fox Sports Net. Otto told reporters that IFL programming would take place through the fall, and the remaining tiers of the contract with FSN were in negotiations. “The contract is very detailed and we’re working very hard to get everything ironed out and put it to bed,” Otto said.
IFL Full Results:
Rick Reeves def. Chris Kennedy by Unanimous Decision (29 28)
Brent Beauparlant def. Fabio Leopoldo at 2:22 of Rd. 3 by TKO (Shoulder Injury)
Andre Gusmao def. Wojtek Kaszowski at 3:53 of Rd. 1 by Submission (Modified Rear Naked Choke)
Wagney Fabiano def. Erik Owings at :58 of Rd. 1 by Submission (Armbar)
Delson Heleno def. Gideon Ray at 1:29 of Rd. 2 by Submission (Verbal)
Marcio Cruz def. Rafael at 3:42 of Rd. 3 by Disqualification
Dan Molina def. Seth Baczynski at 1:32 of Rd. 1 by Submission (Heel Hook)
Pat Healy def. Mike Guymon at 4:00 of Rd. 3 by Split Decision (29 28 29 28 Healy, 29 28 Guymon)
John Gunderson def. Gabe Casillas at 2:58 of Rd. 2 by Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Roy Nelson def. Shane Ott at 4:00 of Rd. 3 by Unanimous Decision (30-27)
Mike Whitehead def. Vernon White at :54 of Rd. 2 by TKO (Referee Stoppage)