At the inaugural IFL show this weekend in Atlantic City, one of the most intriguing match-ups is the one that pits Alex Schoenauer of Bas Rutten’s Anacondas versus Travis Wiuff of Pat Miletich’s Silverbacks.
Both fighters are looking to make a big impression in their IFL debuts after having been in the UFC last year and having mixed results recently in their careers. Schoenauer in particular may have extra incentive to prove that he’s more than just a reality TV star.
After a recent training session, Alex took time out to speak to MMAWeekly about his involvement with the IFL, working with MMA legend Bas Rutten, and his match against Wiuff.
MMAWeekly: First off, Alex, how did you get involved with the IFL?
Alex Schoenauer: Shannon Knapp brought it up, back after I finished The Ultimate Fighter show. She mentioned it to me and asked if I was interested. I was like, “Yeah, I’m always up for something new.” It was still kind of back when nobody knew anything about it. I kept training and getting ready for whatever was next and taking some fights to get my experience more well-rounded for the ring. Now we’re at the point where we’re ready to fight for the IFL.
MMAWeekly: I know you recently had a chance to work first hand with Anaconda team coach Bas Rutten. How did that go?
Alex Schoenauer: Working out with Bas has been awesome. He’s kind of crazy [laughs], but he’s fun to be around with and he motivates you. He brings out a better fighter in training with him. I’ve been working on my stand-up with him, and everything’s coming along great. It’s a great team to be on. We’ve got a lot of great guys on the team and I’m just looking forward to going out there and performing.
MMAWeekly: Speaking of your team, the Anacondas, do you know much about your teammates?
Alex Schoenauer: I don’t know too much. I know the 155er is pretty good friends with Mike Pyle. I just met the big guy, Krzysztov [Soszynski] from Canada, when we were training with Bas. He’s a big guy and has great cardio. He’s got a great heart when he comes to train and pushes himself. He’s working on his skills and has a good base. Especially when you’re working with a great team and Bas Rutten, that’s important.
MMAWeekly: What do you think of the team-based format of the IFL?
Alex Schoenauer: I think it’s a great format. I’m surprised nobody tried to put together something like this earlier. Because when you train, you train with other guys and you call that a team. If you have good training partners, a team, that’s going to make you a better fighter and that concept plays right into this. Not only are you fighting with your team, your team is backing you up, pushing you to do good. In things like the UFC, you just have your corner pushing you. Here you have the whole team behind you. I think that makes it better for the fans also.
MMAWeekly: How do you feel the Anacondas will do in the IFL?
Alex Schoenauer: There’s going to be more teams coming up, and new fighters, and everybody is training to be a better fighter, but you’ve got to push yourself. You never know what’s going to happen, but I’m pretty confident that having Bas Rutten as a coach and having a good team training together that we’ll be successful and stay on top of the IFL.
MMAWeekly: All right, let’s talk about your individual opponent, Travis Wiuff. What are you expecting in this fight?
Alex Schoenauer: I’ve seen a little bit of Travis. I know he’s a real good wrestler. He’s a ground ‘n pound guy, but there’s no elbows [in the IFL], so I’m not too worried about that. I know he’s going to try to take me down, but I’m not sure he’ll try to stand with me. If he does, that’ll be great… great for the fans because they always like a stand-up fight, but I’m sure he’ll try to take me down. I’ve been working on my wrestling as much as I can, and I expect to stop his takedowns. If I do get taken down, just work out of it and finish on top punching and make him pay for that takedown.
MMAWeekly: Do you think he may underestimate you because you have less experience than he does?
Alex Schoenauer: It’s always good for fighters to underestimate you because that gives you an upper hand. I just try to prepare myself in all aspects, especially going up against a wrestler. They have a great base and good ground control. My Jiu-Jitsu is coming along. I’ve been working on that, and I’ve been working with top wrestlers so I’ll know how to counter him.
MMAWeekly: As you mentioned, there are no elbows in the IFL. What do you feel about the promotion’s rules changes?
Alex Schoenauer: I think it’s a good concept with no elbows because elbows are always cutting people and forcing a stoppage. Especially if the IFL is trying to keep us busy, fighting every couple months, elbows could eliminate you from being able to fight on another show. Plus, people like to watch a stand-up fights and I think this is pushing towards a stand-up fight. If you go to the ground and stall at all, they will stand you back up. The rounds are between the UFC and K-1 [four minutes per round], and I think that will keep it exciting. I’m happy with the rules so far. We’ll see how to see it goes… after the first couple fights, they may adjust their rules and keep them better for the fans and the fighters.
MMAWeekly: Right now, there are concrete plans for two IFL events, the one this upcoming weekend and one in June. Being uncertain what is going to happen after those events, what do you see for your future?
Alex Schoenauer: Well, right now we’re only signed on for two fights, the April fight and the June fight. Of course, I’m a fighter and I want to try to make a living at this, so whoever makes the best offer you have to go with. If the UFC comes up to me and makes a good deal and if I’m happy with that, I might go with it because it’s a business. The IFL has a lot of promise for the fighters and that’s good, but we’ll have to see if they come through with what they’ve said to the fighters. I’m all for it and support it and hope it goes through. You never know what’s going to happen, so I try to be prepared for whatever happens down the road.
MMAWeekly: Okay, before we head out there’s something I’ve got to ask. We all know Bas thinks he’s the most handsome man in MMA, but who is truly better looking, Bas or you?
Alex Schoenauer: [Laughs] I don’t know how to answer that one. Bas Rutten is known as “El Guapo” and is always going to be “El Guapo,” so I’ll just have to be known as “El Galan.”
MMA Weekly: Funny stuff, Alex. Thanks for your time, as always. Is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?
Alex Schoenauer: I want to say thanks to the Las Vegas Combat Club, Kevin Randleman, and Bob LaGratta, and I just want to tell the fans of the sport that the IFL is going to be great for the sport and there’s a lot more to come.