by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
With the IFL’s 2007 regular season just about over, the playoff picture for the World Team Tournament has begun to clear up after the fog of contenders has thinned.
One team’s fate that was not in jeopardy, however, was the Los Angeles Anacondas.
Going into last Friday’s IFL event in Everett, Washington, the team just needed to perform well, baring some sort of massive collapse, to lock up the top seed in the World Team Tournament. To that point, they succeeded.
Key among their 3-2 victory over the tough Seattle Tiger Shark was Alex Schoenauer’s surprising win over the hot streaking Allan Goes in the evening’s light-heavyweight showdown.
Perhaps thought to be overwhelmed by Goes’ advantages on the ground and in experience, Schoenauer rose to the challenge, kept the fight on the feet, and put Allan down with a display of matured striking, silencing his own personal critics with the performance.
“I feel great,” said Schoenauer of his upset of Goes. “The guy that I beat has been around the game a long time [and] is a great fighter. He’s fought big-name guys out there, so it’s a really good victory for me.”
Since coming into the public eye of MMA with his participation in first season of The Ultimate Fighter two years ago, Alex has continued to work hard to evolve as a fighter. Now, thanks to help from the Anacondas’ new coach, Shawn Tomkins, Schoenauer has been able to put together a blueprint he can build upon.
“Shawn Tompkins has been working on stand-up with me, working on my uppercuts and my right-straight, trying to define the speed and accuracy of everything,” explained Alex. “The gameplan was pretty much to go out there, keep it standing, avoid the takedown, move around, just look for the opening, and try to catch him with something… and that’s pretty much how the fight came out.”
Schoenauer continued, “I’m unfortunate that most guys [I fight] are wrestlers and don’t want to stand with me. As soon as I punch them, they just want to go straight to the ground. Goes wanted to stand with me, so it was a great thing for me.”
With the Anacondas’ win, they eliminated the Tiger Sharks’ chances to make the WTT, and as Alex puts it, further cemented the Anacondas’ spot as the team to beat in the IFL this season.
“The team performed as best we could,” commented Schoenauer. “A lot of the guys were a little bit injured, and some of the guys had just one of those nights where you just get caught, but overall the team did good because we won.”
“Yeah, it would have been great if we could have a sweep, but you can’t always have everything, so I’ll take the win and move onto the next fight. We’re still the #1 team in the IFL, and in the next fight we’ll come out stronger and more deadly, so it’s going to be good,” added Alex.
Having gone 3-0 overall, with an impressive 11-4 individual record, the Anacondas locked up the top seed in the WTT, and with it a possible rematch with the Quad Cities Silverbacks.
It’s a potential match-up that fighters on both sides have been anticipating, especially Schoenauer.
“I really want to face off with the Silverbacks. I really want to face off again with Mike C. [Ciesnolevicz] and avenge that loss I have,” exclaimed Alex. “He’s a good fighter, but I didn’t perform in that fight as well as I could have, so I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring with him.”
Should Schoenauer remain healthy and put on good performances in the World Team Tournament, there is also a possibility that he could see action at the year-end individual Grand Prix.
According to Alex, he feels that he has earned the right to compete in the GP, given his most recent fight.
“After my last win, they better put me in there,” said Schoenauer. “If they don’t put me in there, it’s going to be real disappointing. We’ll see what happens, because we have a couple more fights coming up, but after that last win, a first round knockout, how could they deny me being in the Grand Prix?”
Alex reiterated however, “Hopefully I’ll be there, but I’ll take it one step at a time. [The Anacondas want to] get some rings on our fingers and then go to the next step. The team’s goals are what matters right now.”
With one more regular season event to go, the IFL’s playoff picture will soon be complete, and then it’s off to the World Team Tournament Semi-Finals on August 2nd in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Schoenauer feels the fans should keep their eyes on the Anacondas this IFL post-season, as their quest to claim their first WTT Championship begins just a few short weeks from now.
“Everybody come out for that August 2nd fight,” concluded Alex. “The Anacondas should be dominating again. I’d like to thank my sponsors: Bob LaGratta; Tapout; Switch Fighter; the Anacondas; and a big thanks to Shawn Tompkins; and Randy [Couture] and Xtreme Couture.”