IFL Grand Prix Finals Highlights

A collection of highlights from this past weekend’s IFL Grand Prix Finals courtesy of the IFL. The event featured five different fighters winning IFL gold for the first time and Chris Horodecki losing for the first time in his professional career.

Schultz Stops Horodecki in Night of Upsets

Provided by IFL. Getty Images.

UNCASVILLE - Ryan ?“The Lion? Schultz” knocked out previously undefeated 20-year-old Chris ?“The Polish Hammer”? Horodecki, capping off an exciting night of action with Schultz winning the lightweight championship at the inaugural International Fight League World Grand Prix finals, held tonight in front of 5,731 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Four other championship fights also took place, including victories by Roy ?“Big Country” Nelson at heavyweight, Wagnney Fabiano at featherweight, Jay Hieron at welterweight, and Matt Horwich at middleweight.

The five championships were the most ever contested on one night in North American MMA history.

Schultz took control early in the first round and continued to pound Horodecki before the referee stepped in late in the round to stop the bout. Schultz had been named a late replacement in the title bout after injuries to Horodecki?‘s previous two opponents.

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IFL Grand Prix Finals Live Results

We will be going live at 7:30 PM EST with live results of the IFL World Grand Prix Finals which are taking place this evening at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.

The event features three preliminary bouts and five title fights including a rematch between Ryan Schultz and lightweight phenom Chris Horodecki for the IFL Lightweight Title.

Be sure to leave comments throughout the night.

Live results are shown after the jump.

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IFL Grand Prix Finals Weigh-In Results

Photos courtesy of the IFL.

The official weigh-in results for tomorrow night’s IFL Grand Prix Finals are below. All fighters successfully made weight.

Title Bouts:

Chris Horodecki (153 lbs) vs. Ryan Schultz (153 lbs)
Benji Radach (184 lbs) vs Matt Horwich (183 lbs)
Jay Hieron (168 lbs) vs. Delson Heleno (168 lbs)
Roy Nelson (258 lbs) vs. Antoine Jaoude (253 lbs)
L.C. Davis (143 lbs) vs. Wagnney Fabiano (144 lbs)

Preliminary Bouts:

Marcello Salazar (180 lbs) vs. Alex Cook (180 lbs)
Brett Cooper (169 lbs) vs. Rory Markham (170 lbs)
Elias Rivera (181 lbs) vs. Tim Kennedy (186 lbs)

Davis Ready for Challenge Against Fabiano

L.C. Davis prepares to throw a diving right at Jay Estrada during an IFL event in May 2007. Photo provided by IFL. Getty Images.

It’s one thing to be a wrestler going into the sport of mixed martial arts. Throughout history it’s been shown that those with superior wrestling skills have been relatively successful. However it’s a different situation when you are a standout college wrestler and have been deemed by Pat Miletich himself to be the next great fighter in the featherweight division.

That’s the situation L.C. Davis finds himself in. It’s been a little more than a year since Davis quit his job as assistant wrestling coach at Pratt Community College in order to move to Bettendorf, Iowa and train at Miletich Fighting Systems full time. The move has paid off as three days from now, Davis will find himself fighting for a world title just 20 months into his professional career.

Davis is slated to take on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu standout Wagnney Fabiano for the IFL Featherweight Title at the promotion’s Grand Prix Finals this weekend at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The bout will be the first featherweight matchup in IFL history.

Sounds like a lot of pressure, right? Davis doesn’t think so.

“There’s no added pressure going into this bout,” Davis said during a recent interview session. “I’ve been trying not to think about the fact that it’s for a belt too much and it’s worked pretty good so far. I’m just taking this fight like it’s just like any other.”

While Davis may be the superior wrestler in this bout, more talented on the ground than his opponent he is not. Fabiano is widely considered to be one of the top ground specialists in MMA today - all four of his wins in the IFL have come by way of submission.

“My game plan is going to be sprawl and brawl,” said Davis. “I’d like to keep it on the feet. I believe that I’m a more well-rounded fighter than he is and that’s where I can expose him. I’m not worried if the fight goes to the ground though since I feel that I’ll be prepared to hang with him there.”

Regardless of the outcome of the fight, the two will automatically be established as anchors of the new featherweight division. If victorious, Davis can expect to have a chance to defend the championship gold a couple of times in ‘08 due to the IFL’s revamped schedule for next season. None of that matters right now of course, the fight against Fabiano comes first.

“The key to this fight is my ability to adapt to any position,” stated Davis. “I’m confident that I’ll be able to do that. As long as I stick to my strategy and make smart decisions, I don’t see any reason why I won’t come away from this fight victorious.”

Davis is being sponsored for this fight by Premier Fighter. You can check out their selection of shirts, shorts, and hoodies at their official website.

Hieron Plans Striking Surprise Against Heleno

Photo provided by IFL. Getty Images.

After earning a unanimous decision over Donnie Liles at the IFL World Grand Prix semifinals in November, Jay Hieron is now on the path to becoming the IFL’s first-ever welterweight champion.

However the only thing standing in Hieron’s way is Delson Heleno, who also was victorious at the Grand Prix semifinals last month and might be giving Hieron the biggest test of his MMA career thus far.

Hieron has acknowledged that quite he has quite the test coming up for him next weekend but it’s exactly the type of fight he wants to be in.

“I’ve fought a lot of tough fights,” Hieron said during a Monday teleconference. “He’s just another tough fight for me. I love these tough fights though. I’m really excited for this fight. After this it’s just about getting through this last hard week and then putting up game face on and getting out there.”

The matchup presents an interesting contrast of styles. Hieron has been a wrestling standout since high school while Heleno is widely known as one of the most talented jiu-jitsu practicioners out there today. While Hieron is more than capable of holding his own on the ground with Heleno, he’d like to try and keep the fight on the feet in this one.

“I think my striking is much better than his,” said Hieron. “That’s the plan, to keep it on the feet. If it goes to the ground I’ve been doing wrestling for years so I’ll be prepared for that as well. He’s a great fighter but I think he likes to force the takedown and I think that will play into my ability to keep things standing. Like I said, I’m more than prepared to go to the ground but I’d like to stay out of his element as much as possible.

Hieron’s standup is the one thing that many followers of MMA haven’t seen very much. An abnormally high percentage of Hieron’s fights have ended up going to the ground. Hieron hopes to break that trend on December 29th. As one of Hieron’s teammates at Xtreme Couture, Chris Horodecki attests that Hieron’s striking is a secret that will surprise a lot of people when he finally gets the opportunity to show it.

“I’ve been working on my striking constantly since I started doing mixed martial arts,” said Hieron. “That was the first thing that I worked on when I came into the sport. I feel my striking is just as good as anyone in the IFL, I just haven’t had a chance to show it since so many of my fights have ended up going to the ground.”

The IFL World Grand Prix Finals are scheduled to take place next Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The event will be broadcast in the United States on HDNet and in Canada on FOX Sports World Canada.

IFL A-Changin’ in 2008

Photo by International Fight League.

The IFL will be changing in many ways in 2008 and we’re here to tell you all about it…

The promotion held a conference call yesterday afternoon to announce the new changes and answer any questions that the press might have had. IFL Commissioner Kurt Otto and IFL Manager of Public Relations Jerry Milani were both on hand during the call.

Teams, Titles, and TV

The IFL will be switching from a team to a camp format meaning that instead of the Quad City Silverbacks and Portland Wolfpack, Miletich Fighting Systems and Team Quest will now be represented. Events will now feature teams putting three fighters in place to compete instead of five like in the past. This was done in order to create easier injury replacement situations.

Camps that are not under contract with the IFL will be permitted to compete. Team Punishment and Xtreme Couture are examples of this. Fighters from those camps can also compete for a title. Speaking of titles, each event will feature a minimum of eight fights - two title defenses and two matches between teams. Preliminary bouts are an option for each event also, especially for those that will be entering via the IFL Draft.

The IFL’s next event will take place at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on February 29th. They currently have a deal in place with FOX Sports Net and are currently in discussions with MyNetworkTV. They are also in talks with other networks as well.

Updates on Frye, Rothwell, Rutten, Angle, and Gusmao

Don Frye will no longer be coaching with the IFL but will continue to do his “Dear Don” episodes as well as visiting with US troops overseas in conjunction with the IFL. Ben Rothwell is currently not with the IFL and is a free agent. Otto stated that while he’s sure that Rothwell will end up somewhere else, he hopes that he would consider a return in the future.

Bas Rutten will not be coaching in 2008 and will remain as the color commentator on broadcasts. There is no real news involving Kurt Angle except that Angle’s manager formally expressed his client’s interest in competing inside the confines of the IFL.

As far the Andre Gusmao situation goes, Gusmao and his agent misinterpreted his contract and attempted to strike a deal with the IFL. The IFL let the UFC know that they still had his rights and they retracted their offer. Otto and company are currently in talks with Gusmao and his representation during an exclusive negotiation period.

Miscellaneous Notes

There was no official mention of plans to have another IFL Grand Prix. Both fighters with multi-fight deals and single-fight deals will be busy. No intent to include women in the fold anytime soon. The old IFL teams and logos will be done away with. Rosters will be announced after the new year. No indication of a formal set of standings for next season. Plans are currently to tame the travel schedule. Shorts will have an IFL logo and the logo of the camp on them. The IFL’s official “road map” is here. Sam Caplan has another excellent breakdown of everything here. Jarry Park has audio of the call here.

Lindland, White Discuss Possible Return

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that former UFC middleweight contender Matt Lindland and UFC President Dana White met last week in Las Vegas to discuss the potential of Lindland returning to the company after a two-year hiatus.

According to Iole, Lindland met with White after cornering fellow Team Quest member Chael Sonnen in his middleweight title fight against Paulo Filho:

After the bout, he said he’d spoken to White about returning to fight in the UFC. White said he is “not sure” of whether Lindland will return. In a text message, he wrote, “He told me he wants to come back and I haven’t thought about it at all.”

Lindland became the number one contender to Rich Franklin’s middleweight belt in 2005 only to be released from the UFC due to a violation of his contract.

Since his departure, Lindland has racked up a record of 5-2 and has coached the Portland Wolfpack of the IFL for the past two years.

I know that I’m not the only one who would love to see Lindland back in the UFC. His return would give the middleweight division a huge kick in the ass and is definitely the kind of thing that the UFC is looking for these days. Hopefully White and company will welcome him back with open arms.

IFL Grand Prix Finals Conference Call Notes

The IFL held a conference call with the media earlier this afternoon to discuss the upcoming IFL World Grand Prix Finals which are set to take place on Saturday, December 29th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.

The event will be broadcast in the United States on HDNet and in Canada on FOX Sports World Canada.

Nothing new was reported in terms of the IFL itself, that will come later in the week, on Wednesday to be exact when IFL President Kurt Otto meets with the media again to discuss the layout for next year.

Fighters participating on the call were Chris Horodecki and Jay Hieron. Notes on both are after the jump.

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IFL to Air on HBO Latin America in 2008

NEW YORK - The International Fight League and Alfred Haber Distribution today announced that HBO Latin America, one of the fastest growing entertainment channels in Latin America will begin showing IFL content beginning in 2008. It is the IFL’?s first Spanish Language partnership, and will cover Latin America, Brazil and the Caribbean.

?Serving one of the fastest growing demos for Mixed Martial Arts, the Hispanic market both in the United States and abroad, is a major priority for the IFL in 2008,? said IFL CEO Jay Larkin. ?We are very pleased to be able to start that progress with one of the hallmark brands in all of broadcasting, HBO, and its Latin American arm.?

HBO Latin America joins an ever-growing international TV lineup for IFL programming, which includes MyNetworkTV, HDNet and FSN in the United States, MBC in the Middle East and parts of Africa, Star TV in Asia, CanWest Global and Fox Sports Canada in Canada, EGO in Israel, ITV in the United Kingdom, TV4 in Sweden and Armed Forces Television worldwide.

Just completing its first full season of operation, IFL programming will now be seen in over 300 million homes worldwide.

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