(Ryan “The Lion” Schultz G-n-P’s John Gunderson.)
Last night at the Orleans Arena in Vegas, 3,931 fans watched the IFL kick off its 2008 season with three title matches – lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight – in addition to their camp-on-camp battles. Ryan “The Lion” Schultz, who won the lightweight title back in December when he beat the shit out of previously undefeated Chris Horodecki, retained his title by earning a unanimous decision over John Gunderson. “The Lion” claimed recently that Gunderson had been offered this fight many times, but had neglected to take it until now. The champ held a strong position through much of the fight – which was fought on the ground for the most part. Both Schultz and Gunderson had chances to end the fight with a choke early on, but neither could execute it.
Heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson also successfully defended his belt by getting a TKO over Fabiano Scherner at 3:20 in the first round. “Big Country” has been improving his striking and this fight showed that as he unleashed a barrage of rights to get a stoppage.
(“Big Country” has a celebratory seizure.)
One title did switch hands and it happened the night before the ex-champ’s wedding, too. Matt Horwich put his middleweight title on the line against Ryan McGivern, which made for the best fight of the night. Horwich almost ended it via armbar in the second round, but the bell saved McGivern’s ass. Horwich almost went down himself in the fourth when McGivern drilled him with a flurry of strikes, but “The Fighting Hippy” held on. In the end, a unanimous decision gave the middleweight crown over to McGivern, ending a two month run as champ for Horwich. Hope he ices his face for the sake of the wedding pictures – he didn’t grow the mohawk out for nothing.
The camp battles weren’t too shabby, either. Mario Sperry’s World Class Fight Center started off well when 28-year-old Rafael Dias gave them a victory over Team Tompkins Santino DeFranco. The featherweight battle – in which Dias guaranteed a victory to CagePotato earlier this week – was stopped two minutes in when Dias wrapped DeFranco in a rear naked choke that forced the tapout. Dias, an American Top Team vet, improved his record to 10-3-1 and expressed to us his desire to sign on for more fights in the IFL. At middleweight, Josh Haynes beat Leopoldo Serao by a unanimous decision to give Team Tompkins a win and even things up. The deciding bout went to Sperry’s WCFC when Alexandre Ferreira pulled off a rear naked choke submission win over Lew Polley. The RNC surprisingly happened 20 seconds into the first round.
Team Quest’s Jake Ellenberger won via decision over Ken Shamrock‘s Lion’s Den fighter Pat Healy. Ryan Schultz’s win in his title match wrapped up the night for Team Quest. “Big Country” Nelson – fighting for the Lion’s Den – made it 2-1 when he successfully defended his title.
(Ellenberger pounds Pat Healy.)
Before the teams went into battle, featherweight Ian Loveland submitted Dennis Davis with a guillotine choke in the second round. All in all, a satisfying night from the IFL. Staying true to their word, having more than one title defense every event will keep us coming back every time. And none of that “interim title” bullshit Dana White keeps trying to sell us.
Here’s how the night finished up:
145 lbs: Ian Loveland defeated Dennis Davis – submission (guillotine), :58, 2nd
Team Tompkins vs. Mario Sperry’s World Class Fight Center
145 lbs: Rafael Dias, WCFC, defeated Santino Defranco – submission (rear naked choke), 2:03, 1st
185 lbs: Josh Haynes, Team Tompkins, defeated Leopoldo Serao – decision (unanimous)
205 lbs: Alexandre Ferreira, WCFC, defeated Lew Polley – submission (standing guillotine choke), :20, 1st
Team Quest (Matt Lindland) vs. Lion’s Den (Ken Shamrock)
170 lbs: Jake Ellenberger, Team Quest, defeated Pat Healy – decision (unanimous)
155 lbs: Ryan Schultz, Team Quest, defeated John Gunderson – decision (unanimous)
265 lbs: Roy Nelson, Lion’s Den defeated Fabiano Scherner – TKO (strikes) 3:20, 1st
185 lbs: Ryan McGivern defeated Matt Horwich – decision (unanimous)
For a blow-by-blow of the fights, head over to the IFL’s site. We’ll post some fight videos when they’re available.