by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com (Photos by Dave Mandel)
PORTLAND, OREGON – After a successful showing in September, which drew a crowd of 5,349, the International Fight League returned to the Memorial Coliseum for the World Team Championship Semifinals. And they have to be pretty satisfied as 7,632 fans turned out on a rainy, Thursday night for their return.
MARK KERR vs. MIKE WHITEHEAD
Before this fight, Mark Kerr hadn’t fought on U.S. soil in nine long years. The UFC and Pride veteran was once considered one of the premier fighters in the world. His opponent, Mike Whitehead, like Kerr, has a very accomplished list of wrestling credentials, but also ranks as a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter reality series, which has vaulted many fighters to fame.
With their wrestling backgrounds, Kerr and Whitehead tended to cancel each other out when it came to takedowns. With the only thing left being the stand-up game, it was Whitehead that continually beat Kerr to the punch. After some solid exchanges, the two clinched in the corner, Whitehead separated and hurt Kerr with a strong combination of punches, followed him to the mat and continuously punched him to the face and head until the referee stopped the bout 2:40 into the first round.
Kerr’s comeback was stifled and Whitehead emerges as a force to be considered in the heavyweight division.
ALLAN GOES VS. DANIEL GRACIE
In a battle billed as two of jujitsu’s finest, you’d never have known it. They never hit the ground; that is until Daniel Gracie hit the mat in the second round due to an Allan Goes uppercut. Trading blows throughout the first, Gracie seemed to land more frequently with his strikes, but his face showed that Goes was doing more damage. The second round started out much like the first, but Goes caught Gracie with the aforementioned uppercut, landing him on the mat. Goes followed him down and continued punching Gracie in the face even while he looked up at the referee to say, “He’s out.” Only then did the referee step in and stop the bout giving the win to Allan Goes by TKO.
LOS ANGELES ANACONDAS vs. PORTLAND WOLFPACK
In the opener between the Anacondas and the Wolfpack, Ryan Schultz took an early lead clinching the Anacondas’ Chris Horodecki and landing several knees to his head. But in the second round, it was all Horodecki. The youngster landed a head kick that stunned Schultz, then followed up with a knee to the face and a punch combination before the referee stopped the fight just 24 seconds in. Anacondas 1, Wolfpack 0.
The Anacondas’ Jay Hieron and the Wolfpack’s Chris Wilson fought it out for three solid rounds in the welterweight class. The fight was primarily battled on the feet with Wilson edging out most of the stand-up. Hieron was able to land a few takedowns in the bout and even came close to securing a guillotine choke in the second round. But it was Wilson that started to separate himself in the third round where he defended most of Hieron’s takedown attempts and seemed stronger to finish the fight, which he did with a flurry in the waning seconds. Wilson earned the unanimous decision and tied up the team score 1-1.
The middleweight division provided an amazing display of grappling that even those fans that don’t know much about the ground game would probably enjoy. Matt Horwich and Mike Pyle traded blows, which Pyle seemed to get the better of, but it was their ground exchanges that had fans enthralled. The second round in particular, after Horwich opened with a suplex, had the two transitioning back and forth on the ground with Horwich winding up on Pyle’s back and securing a rear naked choke to put the Wolfpack up 2-1.
In the light heavyweight class, the Wolfpack’s Aaron Stark continually took Alex Schoenauer down throughout their bout, although they fought a back and forth battle with each fighter having their moments. In a strange turn of events at the end of the first round Schoenauer countered a straight ankle lock attempt by Stark by securing a heel hook. Stark slapped his leg, the referee appeared to be moving in to stop the fight and Schoenauer let go of the hold. The only problem for Schoenauer is the referee then backed away and did not stop the fight, with Schoenauer possibly giving up a fight winning hold. In any event, it was Stark that was able to secure a modified guillotine choke in the second round that caused Schoenauer to tap out. In doing so, Stark also secured the team victory for the Wolfpack, putting them up 3-1.
The Anaconda’s Krysztof Soszynski made it respectable for his team with a win over Devin Cole, but it was a hard-won victory. The two fighters were clinched throughout most of the bout, exchanging short punches and knees to the body. Cole started out in control of the second round, but after a stall on the ground and restart in the center of the ring, it was Soszynski that secured an armbar and locked it out for the win. The final team score finishing at 3-2 in favor of the Wolfpack.
FIGHT OF THE NIGHT ($1,000 each) – Chris Wilson and Jay Hieron
SUBMISSION OF THE NIGHT AND FASTEST FINISH OF THE NIGHT ($1,000 & XBOX 360) – Krysztof Soszynski
SUBMISSION OF THE NIGHT ($1,000) – Matt Horwich
TORONTO DRAGONS vs. QUAD CITY SILVERBACKS
Bart Palaszewski and Ivan Menjivar put on a tremendous display to open the night. Early on, it was all Palaszewski as he continually beat Menjivar to the punch, literally, outstriking the Dragons’ lightweight representative and stuffing his takedown attempts. Showing the damage of the first round on his face, Menjivar started to even things up in the second round, but in the end, Palaszewski earned a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) to give the Silverbacks a 1-0 lead.
In the welterweight division, Keith Wisniewski started strong, outstriking a very tough Rory Markham. Throughout the fight, Wisniewski was able to take Markham down and work a somewhat effective ground and pound game. Markham did have his moments in the second round with two triangle choke attempts. In the third, it was Markham coming on strong, stuffing Wisniewski’s takedown attempts and thoroughly outstriking the Dragon. At the end of three, the scorecards read one apiece for each fighter and the third scorecard was even, meaning an overtime round would be necessary. However, a visibly tired Wisniewski had enough and felt he could not continue, forfeiting the fight and giving Markham the win by TKO.
Joe Doerksen took care of business early in the middleweight contest. Although Ryan McGivern hurt Doerksen in the opening moments, it would be Doerksen that reversed the fight, taking McGivern to the mat. Once there, the fight was all Doerksen. He quickly attained full mount and continually reversed from full mount to back control until McGivern exposed his neck just enough for Doerksen to sink in a modified rear naked choke. The win put the Dragons back into the team competition trailing 2-1.
In the light heavyweight division, it seemed that Brent Beauparlant took control early in the bout, taking the fight to the ground and landing knees to the body of Silverback Mike Ciesnolevicz. But it would be Mike C – as he is commonly known on the team – that would land a guillotine choke while standing and jump guard to get the fight to the mat with the choke intact. Beauparlant fought for quite some time to get out of the choke, but Mike C held on, sunk it deep and gave the Silverbacks the team victory, leading 3-1, with the tapout.
In the final bout of the team competition between the Silverbacks and Dragons, Wojtek Kaszowski came out strong with a flying knee and seemed to be leading with his striking throughout most of the first round. But it would be the Silverbacks Ben Rothwell that took over the fight as he sprawled on a Kaszowski takedown attempt, punished him with continuous punches to the face. Kaszowski turned over the his back and Rothwell took full advantage and landed an Americana for the submission win and a decisive 4-1 team victory for the Silverbacks who move on the finals December 29th in Connecticut.
FIGHT OF THE NIGHT ($1,000 each) – Rory Markham and Keith Wisniewski
FASTEST FINISH OF THE NIGHT (XBOX 360) – Joe Doerksen
SUBMISSION OF THE NIGHT ($1,000) – Mike Ciesnolevicz
OVERALL MOST VALUABLE ATHLETE AWARD (Sandel’s Vacation) – Chris Horodecki
INTERNATIONAL FIGHT LEAGUE
World Team Championships Semifinals
November 2, 2006
Mike Whitehead def. Mark Kerr by TKO at 2:40, Round 1
Allan Goes def. Daniel Gracie by TKO at 1:03, Round 2
PORTLAND WOLFPACK – 3
LOS ANGELES ANACONDAS – 2
Krzysztof Soszynski (Anacondas) def. Devin Cole (Wolfpack) by Armbar at 1:14, Round 2
Aaron Stark (Wolfpack) def. Alex Schoenauer (Anacondas) by Guillotine Choke at 2:43, Round 2
Matt Horwich (Wolfpack) def. Mike Pyle (Anacondas) by Rear Naked Choke at 1:02, Round 2
Chris Wilson (Wolfpack) def. Jay Hieron (Anacondas) by Unanimous Decision
Chris Horodecki (Anacondas) def. Ryan Schultz (Wolfpack) by TKO at 0:24, Round 1
QUAD CITY SILVERBACKS – 4
TORONTO DRAGONS – 1
Ben Rothwell (Silverbacks) def. Wojtek Kaszowski (Dragons) by Americana at 3:14, Round 1
Mike Ciesnolevicz (Silverbacks) def. Brent Beauparlant (Dragons) by Guillotine Choke at 2:31, Round 1
Joe Doerksen (Dragons) def. Ryan McGivern (Silverbacks) by Rear Naked Choke @ 3:04, Round 1
Rory Markham (Silverbacks) def. Keith Wisniewski (Dragons) by TKO due to forfeiture
Bart Palaszewski (Silverbacks) def. Ivan Menjivar (Dragons) by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)