by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At this coming Saturday’s IFL event in Las Vegas, Nevada, it’s pretty much do-or-die for the Reno Lions and their lightweight fighter John “Quick Guns” Gunderson.
Starting off this year as one of the league’s most promising young teams, the Lions did well in their first team battle, defeating the San Jose Razorclaws, further settling the feud between the teams’ two Head Coach rival brothers, Ken Shamrock of the Lions and Razorclaws’ leader Frank Shamrock.
Gunderson, for his part, impressed in his win over Josh Odom half way through the first round of their fight – showing why he was one of the more buzzed-about new fighters heading into the IFL’s 2007 season.
The team and John then struggled in their next team battle, losing to the two-time defending league champion Quad Cities Silverbacks by a 4-1 mark. And John, though he fought hard, lost a split decision to the Silverbacks’ Bart Palaszewski.
So it was back to the drawing board for the Lions as they prepared for their final team battle this upcoming Saturday, June 16th in Las Vegas against the winless Tucson Scorpions, lead by one-time Ken Shamrock opponent, Don Frye.
“You know, we’re really not feeing any extra pressure,” said Gunderson of the Lions’ match-up with the Scorpions. “From the way it looks the Pitbulls would have to lose and we’d have to win all five [individual match-ups], so we’re not really thinking about the playoffs right now.”
John continued, “We’re all thinking about going out there and fighting, because we had a good showing out in Moline in our last fight and we’re looking to go out and do the same.”
As Gunderson went onto explain, even though the Scorpions have stepped up their line-up for this coming Saturday’s showdown, the Lions are more than ready for them.
“In the team versus team battle we have a pretty good chance of beating every one of their guys,” commented John. “They have some good guys like Mike Whitehead, Mike Guymon, and my guy Gabe Casillas, and when you’ve got a combination like that, of course you’ve got to come with it.”
“I think Vernon White is looking really great right now; Pat Healy is just a monster in the gym and is a tough guy to handle for anybody; Dan Molina is very young but he’s starting to believe in himself and is becoming a better fighter; and Roy Nelson is just a stud heavyweight, he proved that in his fight with Ben Rothwell. I think we have a really good team, and we just have to get out there and get after it,” added Gunderson.
With injuries sidelining Cam Ward, Gabe Casillas will move down in weight to take the lightweight spot against John, placing Gunderson in the familiar position of facing off against a naturally bigger opponent once again.
Regardless of size however, John feels that he should have a much better performance, spurred on by what he feels wasn’t his best outing in his last fight against Bart Palaszewski.
“In my last fight I feel like I didn’t perform up to my abilities,” explained Gunderson. “So I’m looking to come out, showcase my skills, get after it and hopefully have an entertaining fight.”
John further commented, “My skills are becoming a lot better, I’m becoming a lot better and the sky’s the limit, and I want to go out and show what I’ve learned.”
Not only does Gunderson have the motivation of helping his team and improving upon his last performance to drive him to do well in Las Vegas, he’s also been told that should he win, he’ll qualify for the IFL’s individual lightweight Grand Prix at year’s end.
“I found out the other day, I just have to win to make it in,” said John. “There’s three guys in it now: Bart, [L.A. Anacondas'] Chris Horodecki, and Wagney Fabiano [of the Toronto Dragons]. As long as I win – I’m in – I just have to go out there and perform.”
“I think I match up well with all of them. They’re all good fighters and any one of us could win that [Grand Prix] tournament,” added Gunderson.
So, this coming Saturday, June 16th at the Hilton in Las Vegas, there could be a lot more on the line for John Gunderson and the Reno Lions than one might initially expect, making it a night of action that John feels no one should miss.
“I think it’s going to be a great show in Vegas,” said Gunderson. “I’ve trained so hard, put in a lot of time and I just want to fight. If you can’t make it, check it out on FSN or My Network later in the year.”
John concluded, “I’d like to thank: Power Trip [Extreme] Energy Drink; Vicious Fight Gear; Denaro Sports Marketing; B&C Choppers; Dr. Jason Gutches; and everyone at the Lion’s Den, and JT Taylor and Marcus Lewis out in Oregon for basically getting me to where I am today.”