by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
Already into the second season of its innovative team concept, the IFL looks to continue on with the semi-finals on Thursday night with two more teams advancing on to the finals in December. After making their debut earlier this fall in their hometown of Portland, the Wolfpack returns to Portland to take on the Los Angeles Anacondas for the right to advance to the finals.

The Portland Wolfpack is coached by top ranked middleweight Matt Lindland and defeated the Seattle Tigersharks, 3-2 to advance to the semi-finals. The Los Angeles Anacondas is lead by former UFC Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten and defeated the Tokyo Sabres, 5-0 to advance to the semi-finals.

Lightweight Bout: Ryan Schultz vs. Chris Horodecki

Wolfpack lightweight Ryan “The Lion” Schultz takes on young Anacondas lightweight Chris “The Polish Hammer” Horodecki. Schultz made a successful debut in the IFL when he knocked out Tigersharks lightweight Cam Ward in the second round at IFL: World Team Championships in Portland. Horodecki won a unanimous decision over the Sabres lightweight Ed West at the IFL: World Team Championships in Portland.

Schultz is the veteran of the two fighters having fought all over the world, while Horodecki has amassed an undefeated record in his young career. Schultz easily showed his dominance over Ward in his last fight, as he was able to outstrike and out wrestle him until finally getting the knockout in the second round. Schultz had been on a losing skid, which included losses to Hermes Franca, Kuniyoshi Hironaka and Rich Clementi all in the last year. Horodecki is undefeated in MMA and is a perfect 2-0 in the IFL. Horodecki made a successful debut in the IFL, when he knocked out Erik Owings in the first round at the IFL in June.

It’s no doubt that Schultz is easily going to be Horodecki’s toughest challenge of his career. Schultz is the better ground fighter of the two, while Horodecki has the better stand-up but is the lesser experienced of the two fighters. Schultz’s stand-up isn’t the most technical but he has tons of power and is extremely aggressive when coming in for combinations. This fight has dynamite written all over it and is important because who ever win the fight will set the tone for the night for his team. At this point, Schultz is the better of the two fighters as his ground game is more polished and he is the more experienced of the two.

While Horodecki has the brighter future of the two, I just don’t think he is ready for higher-level competition at this point of his career. If Schultz feels like the stand-up isn’t going his way, he won’t have any problem taking it the ground where he should easily be able to control Horodecki with ground and pound en route to a decision victory over Horodecki.

Prediction: Ryan Schultz by decision

Welterweight Bout: Jay Hieron vs. Chris Wilson

Anaconda welterweight Jay Hieron takes on the Wolfpack’s Chris Wilson. Hieron is a perfect 2-0 in the IFL and easily disposed of Sabres welterweight Amos Sotelo with a guillotine choke only twenty six seconds into the first round. Wilson fought a three round war with Tigersharks welterweight Brad Blackburn but was unable to win a decision.

Hieron is a UFC veteran although going 0-2; losing by TKO on both occasions but now has found a home in the IFL. Wilson is an excellent fighter but just fell short in his IFL debut losing a decision to an improving fighter. Hieron didn’t need to use much effort in his last fight, as Sotelo was nowhere near the level of the fighter that Hieron is. Wilson is a tough fighter and should put up an excellent fight and will be up for the toughest fight of his career.

Hieron is an excellent wrestler and has good stand-up. Wilson is a decent fighter but he may be in over his head against Hieron as he is the better of the two fighters. Wilson’s only chance against Hieron is to be aggressive in the stand-up and hope that his aggression will pay off catching Hieron with some kind of strike. Hieron is the better fighter on the feet and on the ground and shouldn’t have much trouble with Wilson in this fight. Wilson should put up a good fight and make it competitive but he will eventually fall to Hieron by strikes.

Prediction: Jay Hieron by TKO in the first round

Middleweight Bout: Matt Horwich vs. Mike Pyle

Wolfpack middleweight Matt Horwich takes on Anaconda Mike Pyle. Horwich won an easy decision over Tigersharks middleweight Bristol Marunde. Pyle improved his IFL record to 1-1 when he submitted Sabres middleweight John Cole in the first round. Both Horwich and Pyle are world-class fighters and should put on an excellent show for the fans in this fight.

Horwich has had a rough year having lost a couple of fights early on but he came back strong with the win over Marunde. Pyle was one of the top prospects in the smaller shows and was expected to be the Anaconda’s best fighter but was upset by Rory Markham by knockout in the first IFL show. He now has recovered with a fairly easy win in his last IFL showing.

Horwich used to fight at light heavyweight but now has settled at middleweight, while Pyle is naturally a welterweight and now has made the move up to middleweight making him the smaller fighter of the two. This fight is going to be exciting and should be the fight of the night.

Pyle is an excellent fighter but he may have his hands full against Horwich because of the size factor. Horwich is relentless on the ground and will be looking to take it to the ground where he will try to outmuscle Pyle and submit him. Pyle has the crisper stand-up of the two fighters and needs to keep it on the feet. Horwich has some unorthodox striking and his strength on the feet is in the clinch where he uses dirty boxing with good success. If it goes on the ground, Horwich has the advantage due to the strength advantage and skill level on the ground.

This is a tough fight to call. If Pyle can avoid the fight being on the ground, he has an excellent chance of winning. But if Horwich gets it on the ground, he’ll definitely have the advantage. Horwich should be able to get the fight on the ground but he will take some shots on the way down. Pyle needs to avoid takedowns and being caught in the clinch because those are Horwich’s strong points. In the end, I think Horwich will win a razor close decision over Pyle in what should be an outstanding fight.

Prediction: Matt Horwich by decision

Light Heavyweight Bout: Aaron Stark vs. Alex Schoenauer

Wolfpack light heavyweight Aaron Stark takes on the Anacondas’ Alex Schoenauer. Stark made a successful IFL debut when he beat previously undefeated Tigersharks’ light heavyweight Reese Andy with strikes in the third round. Schoenauer upset Sabres’ light heavyweight Kazuhiro Hamanaka with a guillotine choke at his last IFL showing. Stark outmuscled and outstruck Andy en route to a TKO win.

Schoenauer is mostly known for being on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter and has had success outside of the UFC and has a 2-1 record in the IFL. Stark is an excellent wrestler and seems to being coming into form recently now that he has started to train with a good team for his fights.

This should be a quick fight with either someone getting submitted or knocked out.

Stark has the better wrestling of the two fighters and Schoenauer has the better submissions of the two fighters. Both fighters seem to be equal in the stand-up with neither fighter having a distinct advantage over the other on the feet. Stark needs to be relentless with the ground and pound and not give Schoenauer a chance to work any submissions while they are on the ground.

Schoenauer has faced the tougher competition of the two fighters and has mixed results but does hold a submission victory over Miletich fighter Travis Wiuff in his IFL debut. Schoenauer’s best chance at winning the fight is to get it on the ground and work for a quick submission win. Stark needs to out wrestle Schoenauer and try to pound a out a stoppage or decision. In the end, Schoenauer will be too much for Stark on the ground and should pull out the submission win in the first round.

Prediction: Alex Schoenauer by submission in the first round.

Heavyweight Bout: Devin Cole vs. Krzysztof Soszynski

Wolfpack heavyweight Devin Cole takes on the Anacondas’ Krzysztof Soszynski. Cole is coming off a loss to Tigersharks heavyweight Allan Goes by submission in his last IFL fight. Soszynski got his first IFL win after knocking out Sabres’ heavyweight Tom Howard.

Cole is one of the hottest heavyweight prospects but he hit a snag in his last fight losing to the veteran Goes in the first round. He now looks to get back to his winning ways with a win over Soszynski. Soszynski had been on a recent losing streak but has gotten back on track with a pair of wins in his last two fights.

Cole is an excellent wrestler and Soszynski being the better striker, this is going to be an instant clash of styles between the two fighters. This isn’t a hard fight to predict and it should be a fairly easy win for Cole, as long as he doesn’t take Soszynski lightly. In his last fight that was what seemed to happen to Cole, as he didn’t seem to take Goes that serious. He showed some sloppy technique against a fighter that has the skill to end the fight in an instant with a submission, which is exactly what happened.

If Cole is in a good state of mind he should have no problem with Soszynski. Soszynski’s only chance of winning the fight is if he can knockout Cole before Cole gets the takedown. Cole should be able to take this fight to the ground and either get a stoppage with strikes or win a decision over Soszynski, giving the Portland Wolfpack the victory and moving them on to finals to face the winner of the Silverbacks/Dragons semi-final.

Prediction: Devin Cole by TKO in the first round.

Portland Wolfpack over Los Angeles Anacondas by 3-2.