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Screw Vegas — I’m Off to Uncasville! (IFL World Grand Prix Preview)

Man, just when you think life can’t get any sweeter

It looks like I’ve been hooked up with a ticket and a Mohegan Sun hotel room for the IFL’s World Grand Prix, which means I’ll be heading out to Connecticut tomorrow to see what kinda trouble I can get into, journalistically speaking. I’ll be playing it fast and loose, but you never know what my hungry camera-lens and thirsty dictaphone might uncover. Full reports to come this weekend, whenever I can make it to my laptop. For you poor, sad, home viewers, the action starts at 9:30 p.m. ET on HDNet. Watch it! (Or at the very least, DVR it.)

As for UFC 79, my associate Kipp will be liveblogging it tomorrow night, so be sure to have your computer tuned to CagePotato.com during the fights so you can see his witty comments about the things you’ve just watched. And then of course there’s “Fedor Returns” on Monday morning, which I’ll be liveblogging myself. (Jesus, we have our work cut out for us.)

But the most important business at hand is tomorrow night’s IFL blowout, which closes the year out in style as the league looks ahead to switch their shit up in ’08. Five titles are on the line, including the IFL’s newly minted Featherweight belt. Let’s take a look at the matchups, shall we?

FEATHERWEIGHTS, Wagnney Fabiano (8-1) vs. L.C. Davis (9-0)
The only blemish on the record of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist Wagnney Fabiano is a decision loss to Jeff Curran. He’s moved down to the new weight class and probably holds an edge over L.C. Davis going into the match. Davis can be hard to take down and he’s said he wants to stay upright for this one — easier said than done against Fabiano, who favors the ground and loves him some submissions. We’ll see if Davis can make this a striking contest, but we’re leaning towards Fabiano to snatch the win.

LIGHTWEIGHTS, Chris Horodecki (11-0) vs. Ryan Schultz (17-9-1)
You can switch Chris Horodecki’s opponent three times, or 33 times — you’re still not going to find a lightweight in the IFL who’d be able to beat him. This match features “The Polish Hammer” in a rematch against Ryan “The Lion” Schultz, who Horodecki beat 13 months ago via TKO. Schultz is a wrestler and is big on conditioning, something Horodecki has occasionally ignored. Schultz is hungry, noticeably improved from last year, and riding a three-fight win streak. Still, although Horodecki’s knockout power has been called into question, no fighter has yet found an answer to his relentless striking, and the Lion has been known to have a suspect jaw. It may go to a decision (like five of Horodecki’s last six wins), but the Hammer should keep his undefeated streak alive.

WELTERWEIGHTS, Jay Hieron (13-4) vs. Delson Heleno (13-3)
This one is a true toss-up. Jay Hieron is a ripped Long Islander who pounds away like his coach, Bas Rutten. Pretty good on the mat and not particularly easy to take down, he isn’t dominant in any single department, but offers a solid overall package. (Still, he claims his striking is competetive with anyone in the IFL.) Delson Heleno, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as well-rounded. He’s from Brazil, so (big surprise) he wants to get this thing on the ground. If that happens, he could work to a submission very quickly. Hieron will have to be on his game if the fight hits the mat, because Heleno’s armbars are deadly and seemingly come out of nowhere. But if we’re forced to make a prediction, we’ll roll the dice with Hieron.

MIDDLEWEIGHTS, Benji Radach (17-3) vs. Matt Horwich (20-9-1)
Matt “Sauve” Horwich deserves to lose this fight on the basis of his awful nickname alone. Unfortunately, he’s a submission specialist who has never been knocked out, which could cause problems for KO-artist Benji Radach. It’s a true “styles make fights” match-up, with Radach needing to defend the takedown while Sauve (nope, still not growing on us) has to avoid Radach’s monster power. We’re rooting for you, Benji.

HEAVYWEIGHTS, Antoine Jaoude (8-2) vs. Roy Nelson (9-2)
In what could be the sleeper fight of the night — in the sense that it will probably put us to sleep, not that it’ll be the surprise highlight — Antoine Jaoude faces off against Roy “Big Country” Nelson. Both fighters have solid records despite being a little inconsistent, which could translate to an early KO or a boring decision match. Big Country is a much better grappler, so we’ll give it to him in a yawn.

Elsewhere on the Internet, MMA Weekly spends some time with Jay Hieron, Roy Nelson and Ryan Schultz, while Sherdog has a video of Brazilian Top Team middleweight Marcello Salazar training to destroy Alex Cook in their preliminary card fight, and reciting what sounds like his life story (though who knows, with that accent). The dude looks badass and sleepy at the same time.

If you have any lucky numbers for me to throw chips down on at the roulette table, let me know ASAP in the comments section.

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