Three Title Fights Headline IFL Tonight

The International Fight League will jump back into action with the first of two events in two months as the promotion travels to the Izod Center (formerly Continental Airlines Arena) in East Rutherford, New Jersey for their second show in 2008.

The card for the event might very well be the deepest lineup the organization has put together since it’s inception in January 2006. Matchmaker Kurt Otto has put together three championship fights as well as an undercard featuring the likes of Bart Palaszewski, Chris Horodecki, and UFC veterans Carmelo Marrero and Alex Schoenauer.

Tonight’s event will be televised live on HDNet beginning at 8:30 PM ET. Here’s a little preview of tonight’s bouts.

Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Jamal Patterson

It’s a battle of the old guard and a member of the new generation as Vladimir Matyushenko will defend his IFL light heavyweight title for the first time against upstart New Jersey native Jamal Patterson in the night’s most high-profile title fight.

Fighting strictly inside the confines of the IFL thus far in his professional career, Patterson has been a bit of a surprise, already holding victories over Matt Horwich (twice) and Alex Schoenauer, and showing impressive submission skills along the way. While Patterson certainly the ability to finish fights, his arsenal isn’t anything that Matyushenko hasn’t already seen before.

The Russian has looked impressive since his return nearly three years ago. While his success may very well be because he isn’t being matched up against decent-enough competition in the IFL, this fight shouldn’t be any different for Matyushenko. His wrestling should help him control Patterson throughout the fight. Look for Matyushenko to coast his way to an easy decision or stop Patterson with strikes late.

Jay Hieron vs. Mark Miller

Hieron’s first title defense should prove to be a stiff test. Miller, a former marine, is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the IFL’s welterweight division. He’s riding a wave of momentum following an impressive unanimous decision over Brad Blackburn and a quick knockout of Josh Neer back in May of last year. However Miller hasn’t fought since then and any sort of ring rust could prove dangerous against a constantly improving and working fighter like Hieron.

Hooking up with the guys at Xtreme Couture have transformed Hieron from a one-dimensional wrestler to a skilled machine. He’s looked great since entering the IFL (even in losing) and will likely want to make a statement against Miller since his title win over Delson Heleno was blemished with Heleno’s fight-ending leg in the first round.

If Miller starts out slow against Hieron, who loves to push the pace, I don’t see him lasting very long in this one. Hieron’s combination of sprawling and brawling should be able to counteract anything Miller tries to do. I’d look for Hieron to finish Miller within the first two rounds, most likely by way of strikes.

Wagnney Fabiano vs. Shad Lierley

Tonight’s matchup between Fabiano and Lierley brings forth an interesting clash of styles. Fabiano would love to bring this fight to the ground while Lierley, even holding superior wrestling skills, would like to keep this fight on the feet and show off the exciting striking he displayed last summer against Chris Horodecki.

Unfortunately for Lierley, a rash of injuries have prevented him from fighting since then, leaving a question mark going into his showdown tonight with Fabiano. Lierley at 27 years of age still has enough time and promise to develop into a solid fighter but I don’t think he’s ready for the challenge that Fabiano will put forth tonight. My prediction: Fabiano by rear naked choke in the first round.

Undercard predictions

Delson Heleno over Brad Blackburn - Unanimous Decision
Jim Miller over Bart Palaszewski - Submission
Chris Horodecki over Nate Lamotte - TKO
Carmelo Marrero over Mike Ciesnolevicz - Unanimous Decision
Emyr Bussade over Jesse Lennox - Submission
L.C. Davis over Rafael Dias - TKO
Alex Schoenauer over Brendan Barrett - TKO

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