Press Release
The Tokyo-based Sabres, led by Ken Yasuda and Los Angeles-based Anacondas, coached by Bas Rutten, won their respective season-opening International Fight League matchups today in front of 4,531 at Reliant Arena in Houston. Matt Lindland, coach of the Portland-based Wolfpack submitted Carlos Newton, Toronto-based Dragons’ coach in the “Superfight” which followed the team matchups.

The Sabres won, 3-2, over the Scorpions, coached by Don Frye and based in Tucson, while the Anacondas upended the defending IFL World Team Champion Silverbacks, led by Pat Miletich, by the same 3-2 count.

Lindland earned the victory with a second-round submission, taking out Newton with a series of punches to the face, backing Newton into the corner before dropping to the ground for the guillotine choke to finish the match.

The Houston card marked the first event in the Southwest for the IFL, the world’s first team-based professional mixed martial arts league, and is part of the full 11-event IFL 2007 schedule, the most comprehensive advance schedule in the history of fight sports.

In the first matchup, Antonio McKee (Long Beach, Calif.) got the Sabres (1-0) off to a good start with a TKO victory over Gabe Rivas (Tucson, Ariz.), when he delivered a kick to Rivas’ midsection which sent the Scorpions’ (0-1) welterweight crumbling to the mat with a leg injury. The referee immediately stopped the bout and Rivas left under his own power. Light heavyweight Vladimir Matyushenko (Retchisa, Belarus) pushed the Sabres’ advantage to 2-0 with a first-round submission victory over Dwayne Compton (Tucson, Ariz.), gaining a side mount and converting the armbar, from which Compton could not escape. Scorpions’ heavyweight Chad Griggs (Tucson, Ariz.) pulled his team within 2-1 with a third-round TKO triumph over John Marsh in a hard-hitting bout. Lightweight Savant Young (Pasadena, Calif.) clinched the victory for the Sabres with a hard-fought unanimous decision over Ed West (Tucson, Ariz.) in an entertaining battle. Matt Ver Halen scored a lightweight victory by unanimous decision over scrappy Masaaki Izena (Tokyo) for the final 3-2 margin.

In the highly-anticipated battle between the Anacondas (1-0) and Silverbacks (0-1), heavyweight Ben Rothwell (Kenosha, Wis.) struck first blood for the defending champs, registering a second-round TKO over a game Matt Thompson (Austin, Texas), who served as a replacement for the Anacondas’ regular at the spot, Krzysztof Soszynski. In the welterweight bout, Jay Hieron (Las Vegas, Nev.) battled past another alternate, Victor Moreno (Des Moines, Iowa) to even the match with a first-round submission by rear naked choke. Moreno fought in place of Rory Markham, who was out with an eye injury. Anacondas’ middleweight Benji Radach (Longview, Wash.) took a slugfest from Ryan McGivern (Bettendorf, Iowa), landing a series of punches to finish off the TKO at 2:22 of the second round. The much-hyped lightweight battle between Chris Horodecki (London, Ontario) of the Anacondas and Bart Palaszewski (Wonderlake, Ill.) of the Silverbacks was everything fans expected, with Horodecki taking a split decision to secure the team victory for Rutten’s squad. Light heavyweight Mike Ciesnolevicz (Williamstown, Pa.) took a split decision from Alex Schoenauer (Las Vegas, Nev.), completing the scoring.

The IFL next moves to the Gwinnett Center in suburban Atlanta, where the Dragons (Toronto), coached by Newton, take on the Wolfpack (Portland), coached by Lindland, and the Red Bears (Chicago), led by Igor Zinoviev, battle the Pitbulls (New York), led by Renzo Gracie. Popular MMA veterans Robbie Lawler and Eduardo Pamplona will match up in the “Superfight” following the team competition.

International Fight League
Reliant Arena, Houston, February 2, 2007
Sabres (Tokyo) def. Scorpions (Tucson), 3-2
WW/170 – Antonio McKee, Sabres, def. Gabe Rivas, Scorpions, via TKO (injury), 3:29, 2nd
LH/205 – Vladimir Matyushenko, Sabres, def. Dwayne Compton, Scorpions, via submission (armbar), 1:47, 1st
HW/265 – Chad Griggs, Scorpions, def. John Marsh, Sabres, via TKO (ref stoppage/strikes), 2:32, 3rd
LW/155 – Savant Young, Sabres def. Ed West, Scorpions, via decision (unanimous) after 3 rounds
LW/155 (alt.) – Matt Ver Halen, Scorpions, def. Masaaki Izena, Sabres, via decision (unanimous) after 3 rounds

Anacondas (Los Angeles) def. Silverbacks (Quad Cities), 3-2
HW/265 – Ben Rothwell, Silverbacks, def. Matt Thompson, Anacondas, via TKO (strikes), 1:47, 2nd
WW/170 – Jay Hieron, Anacondas, def. Victor Moreno, Silverbacks, via submission (rear naked choke), 1:55, 1st
MW/185 – Benji Radach, Anacondas, def. Ryan McGivern, Silverbacks, via TKO (ref stoppage/strikes), 2:22, 2nd
LW/155 – Chris Horodecki, Anacondas def. Bart Palaszewski, Silverbacks, via decision (split) after 3 rounds
LH/205 – Mike Ciesnolevicz, Silverbacks, def. Alex Schoenauer, Anacondas, via decision (split) after 3 rounds

MW/185: Matt Lindland def. Carlos Newton, via submission (guillotine choke), 1:43, 2nd

IFL Standings Through Feb. 2
Team Overall Match
Anacondas 1-0 3-2
Condors 1-0 3-2
Lions 1-0 3-2
Sabres 1-0 3-2
Dragons 0-0 0-0
Wolfpack 0-0 0-0
Pitbulls 0-0 0-0
Red Bears 0-0 0-0
Razorclaws 0-1 2-3
Scorpions 0-1 2-3
Silverbacks 0-1 2-3
Tiger Sharks 0-1 2-3

Special Awards
(Sabres vs. Scorpions)
Best KO – Antonio McKee, Sabres
Best submission – Vladimir Matyushenko, Sabres
Fastest finish – Vladimir Matyushenko, Sabres
Most exciting fight – Masaaki Izena, Sabres, vs. Matt Ver Halen

(Anacondas vs. Silverbacks)
Best KO – Benji Radach, Anacondas
Best submission – Jay Hieron, Anacondas
Fastest Finish – Jay Hieron, Anacondas
Fight of the Night – Chris Horodecki, Anacondas vs. Bart Palaszewski, Silverbacks

Most Valuable Fighter – Ben Rothwell, Silverbacks