by Joe Pawlus
CHICAGO – The battles for the International Fight League Grand Prix Championship title belts raged on as the semi-final round made its way to the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Ill., just on the fringe of the Windy City. The IFL also made a leap into the mainstream with its live television debut on MyNetworkTV.
Anacondas’ middleweight Benji Radach got the evening rolling by knocking out Dragons’ team member Brent Beauparlant at 2:26 of the first round. Radach had his opponent’s number from the onset, as the two combatants kept the fight on their feet. He peppered Beauparlant with jabs and hooks for two minutes and ended it with a left hook.
The fight of the night was an anticipated rematch between lightweights Chris Horodecki and Bart Palaszewski. After an incredible three-round war, Horodecki advanced to the Grand Prix finals with a close split decision over Palaszewski.
“I don’t know what I have to do to win a fight against Chris,” Palaszewski said after the fight. “He looks like a train wreck and I don’t have a scratch on me. I don’t know how to describe that decision except for retarded.”
Horodecki spent time training at Bas Rutten’s camp to prepare for this fight. He said he has been training since August for this match-up.
“It was undisputable that I won. My heart goes out to him because it was a war. He’s a great guy and a good friend. I really respect Bart and I never saw this as a rivalry. Now we can both look toward other opponents,” said Horodecki.
After injuries and other issues forced three light heavyweights off the card, Vladimir Matyushenko took home the IFL’s first-ever Grand Prix belt with a unanimous decision over Alex Schoenauer in the 205-pound division. The fight started out as an even contest standing up, but he handled Schoenauer easily by repeatedly taking him to the mat and keeping him there.
Welterweight Anaconda Jay Hieron also earned a unanimous decision over Razorclaw Donnie Liles. In their first meeting, he defeated Liles with a guillotine choke and appeared to be en route to finishing in the same fashion early on in round one. Liles slipped the choke, but Hieron dominated the remainder of the bout with
several takedowns and top control on the ground.
Dragons’ teammate Wagnney Fabiano squared off against the Lions’ John Gunderson in the lightweight division. After evenly trading a full round of punches and kicks, with neither fighter gaining an advantage, Fabiano ended Gunderson’s night with a full mount guillotine choke at 1:53 of round two.
The Delson Heleno-Gideon Ray fight was abruptly put on hold to allow Ray to recuperate from a full-on kick to the groin. After taking the full amount of time allotted for recovery, Ray was forced to verbally submit after being caught in an armbar from Heleno’s guard early in the first round.
Highly favored heavyweight Antoine Jaoude looked to be in trouble early on against Shane Ott, who was able to take Jaoude to the ground at will in the first two minutes and continually worked to pass his guard. Jaoude eventually swept Ott late in the third round, gained side control, and finished the fight with a
head and arm choke from side mount.
Also in the heavyweight division, Roy Nelson went up against Bryan Vetell. Nelson controlled the first round with repetitive takedowns and aggressive striking. He ended the fight at 1:01 of the second round by technical knockout with strikes from within Vetell’s guard.
The last fight of the evening was for a slot in the middleweight title bout against Benji Radach. Matt Horwich met seasoned veteran Brian Foster to see who would fill that spot. Foster was able to land a few powerful punches, but once it hit the ground, it was all Horwich. Horwich obtained his nineteenth submission victory with an armbar from the triangle position with one second left in round one.
Benji Radach was confident but respectful about the upcoming title match.
“Horwich is a good fighter and a very tough opponent. I am going to have to train really hard and come up with a good game plan. It’s going to be a tough fight.”
The winners from each of the semi-final match-ups are scheduled to meet in Uncasville, Conn. on Dec. 29 to determine the divisional champions.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP:
Vladimir Matyushenko def. Alex Schoenauer by Unanimous Decision, 3R
Chris Horodecki def. Bart Palaszewski by Split Decision, 3R
Wagnney Fabiano def. John Gunderson by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:54, R2
Jay Hieron def. Donnie Liles by Unanimous Decision, R3
Delson Heleno def. Gideon Ray by Submission (Armbar) at 1:57, R1
Benji Radach def. Brent Beauparlant by KO at 2:26, R1
Matt Horwich def. Brian Foster by Submission (Armbar) at 3:59, R1
Antoine Jaoude def. Shane Ott by TKO (Arm Triangle Choke) at 3:29, R1
Roy Nelson def. Bryan Vetell by TKO at 1:01, R2
DEC. 29 CHAMPIONSHIP BOUTS:
Chris Horodecki vs. Wagnney Fabiano
Jay Hieron vs. Delson Heleno
Benji Radach vs. Matt Horwich
Antoine Jaoude vs. Roy Nelson