September 17, 2007

by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The International Fight League announced Monday that former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez will replace the injured Tom Sauer at Thursday’s World Team Championships.

He will represent Renzo Gracie’s New York Pitbulls in the heavyweight division in the team championships. Rodriguez faces Quad Cities Silverback Ben Rothwell.

The news comes after Rothwell’s original opponent, Tom Sauer, had to drop out due to an injury. Rodriguez steps into the bout on just three days’ notice.

Since exiting the UFC in 2003, Rodriguez has fought for various promotions including World Extreme Cagefighting and World Fighting Alliance, prior to both companies being purchased by UFC parent company Zuffa, LLC. He holds victories over Randy Couture, Andrei Arlovski and Jeff Monson.

The past couple of years have been tumultuous for Rodriguez who has battled weight problems. He is also coming off of a six-month suspension for testing positive for Benzoylecgonine, a major metabolite in cocaine, after a fight in November 2006.

Rothwell has gone undefeated since entering the IFL, posting an 8-0 record. Rodriguez, however, is likely to be the most accomplished fighter he’s faced.

The New York Pitbulls face the Quad Cities Silverbacks to determine the team champion for 2007 IFL season. The IFL World Team Championships will be held Thursday, Sept. 20 in Hollywood, Fla.