by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
With two-thirds of the 2007 IFL season over, teams are beginning to jockey for their positions in this year’s World Team Tournament.
And while teams such as the New York Pitbulls, Tokyo Sabres and Los Angeles Anacondas have all but secured a spot in the tournament, the fourth position is up for grabs amongst a handful of teams, including the two-time defending league champion Quad Cities Silverbacks.
Currently the Silverbacks are on the outside looking in and need a dominant performance over the Chicago Red Bears this Saturday night at Chicago’s Sears Center.
Among the fighters that need to step up and win in order to help the Silverbacks secure a spot in the WTT is middleweight Ryan McGivern.
So far it’s been a rollercoaster ride for McGivern in the 2007 IFL campaign, alternating losses and wins this season.
In order to help his team advance Ryan knows he has to step up in his fight against Tim Kennedy – who could very well be the Red Bear’s premier fighter – and perhaps put on the Fight of the Night to secure victory for the Silverbacks.
With a lot of variants factoring into just who gets a spot in the WTT, McGivern knows that he and his teammates have to focus in on the task at hand and control their own destinies this season.
“From my point of view, it’s out of our hands what happens with the other teams as far as how all that falls out,” said Ryan. “Really all that’s in our hands is to go out there and perform in our fights. If we don’t go in there and do what we’re capable of and come out on top, then the rest kind of lays itself out.”
“Basically, the thing is to only worry about that which is in our hands. It adds a little more pressure, but we’re just trying to focus in on the job we need to do,” further commented McGivern.
The Red Bears have had the most turn-over from match to match, and according to Ryan, regardless of the changes the Red Bears make, the Silverbacks can handle whatever is thrown their way.
“From what I know about their team that they put together, and our guys, we match up really well,” explained McGivern. “I think there’s going to be some good fights and that they’re all good match-ups.”
Even though the majority of the MMA community views the Silverbacks as the superior team in this weekend’s battle, Ryan was asked if there was a chance he and his teammates could underestimate the Red Bears.
“Absolutely not,” replied McGivern. “That’s one thing for sure; I don’t think anybody on our team are underestimating these guys. We realize these guys are experienced, tough, maybe not as [publicly] well-known, but we definitely know they’re going to be a tough team.”
Ryan continued, “They’re not looking to give an inch – and neither are we – so I don’t think any of us are going in there like, ‘Oh, we’re going to roll over them.’”
McGivern’s opponent this Saturday night is Tim Kennedy, an experienced striker who shined in his IFL debut this past February where he dispatched Dante Rivera of the Pitbulls in impressive fashion.
“I haven’t had a chance to see many of his fights, but I know he’s fought some really tough guys and has a real good record,” said Ryan of Kennedy. “From what I know, he’s really solid on his feet and on top as well. I think both of our styles are very aggressive and physical, so it’s going to be a very high-energy match, and the fans won’t be disappointed with that.”
McGivern added, “I think both he and I are going to be trying to out-work each other, and when two guys do that, it’s going to be a real exciting fight. I know he’s really well-rounded, so I think it’s definitely going to be a battle.”
Injuries have plagued the Silverbacks this season, including the loss of welterweight Rory Markham for the second time in three team battles this weekend.
The first time Markham missed a show, due to an eye injury, the team – and particularly Rory’s replacement, Victor Moreno – struggled. This time however Markham will be replaced by UFC veteran Josh Neer, and Ryan couldn’t be happier with it.
“I feel great,” elated McGivern. “I think Josh and Rory are kind of different styled fighters, but I’m thrilled to have Josh fight for our team. I know him in the gym, seen him train and he’s a super hard-nosed kid and super-tough.”
“He doesn’t know the word ‘quit,’ he’s going to keep banging and fighting. I think he’s a real talented fighter and is a great replacement stepping in for Rory,” further stated Ryan.
So with all the changes done and the line-ups in place, McGivern feels his team has what is needed to get as wins as possible, including a sweep, to advance to the WTT.
“I think as far as that [winning four or five out of five] being a possibility, absolutely,” commented Ryan. “I’m not going to stand here and say, ‘We’re going to sweep them,’ or something like that, but I think that we definitely have the opportunity for our guys to go out there and get the wins.”
McGivern continued, “Right now, we’re zeroed in on the team concept and finishing out strong.”
So when Ryan McGivern and the Quad Cities Silverbacks step into Chicago’s Sears Arena to take on the hometown Red Bears, it could very well be an exciting match-up. The Red Bears have nothing to lose and the Silverbacks have everything to gain, and as Ryan says, that can lead to a very interesting night of IFL action.
“All the Chicagoans and even Quad Cities people, if you get a chance to get out there and watch the fights, it’s going to be real exciting,” concluded Ryan. “I always want to definitely thank all the people of the IFL; they consistently work well with the athletes and take care of us. Personally thanks to all my family, friends and especially my fiancé for getting my mind right and ready for fights; thanks to all my teammates and especially Pat [Miletich].”