Tuesday, February 27, 2007

IFL Explosive in Southeastern Debut

By: Matthew Corsey
Photo: Adam Henderson

The IFL rolled into Atlanta this past Friday, marking the debut of team MMA in Georgia and the Southeastern debut for the IFL.

5,057 fans made the trip to the Gwinnett Center Arena to cheer on the combatants as Carlos Newton's Toronto Dragons faced the Oregon Wolfpack, led by Matt Lindland, and the Chicago Red Bears, under the guidance of Igor Zinoviev, squared off against Renzo Gracie's Pitbulls.

The action kicked off with a lightweight bout as Toronto's Wagney Fabiano faced The Wolfpack's Ian Loveland. As with many of the fighters on the card, both of these athletes were making their IFL debut in this event, and both fighters were eager to rack up their first win in the big leagues.

At the opening bell, the fighters exchanged feints and moved quickly into the clinch, where Fabiano scored the first takedown of the night. Anxious to stay standing, Loveland escaped to his feet only to be quickly taken back down by the determined Fabiano. Wasting no time, Fabiano transitioned to a full mount, where he secured Loveland's head and arm for the tap out at 0:59 of round one.

Next up were Toronto's Wojtek Kaszowski and Oregon's John Krohn. Following a disappointing last season at Heavyweight, Kaszowski was making his Light Heavyweight debut, and was anxious to rack up his first IFL win. Krohn was looking to get the Wolfpack onto the board and keep Toronto from extending their early lead.

On the signal from referee George Allen, Krohn rushed out aggressively, clinching Kaszowski into the corner of the ring. The two men exchanged ineffective strikes in the clinch until Krohn secured a single leg for the takedown near the one minute mark. Kaszowski quickly regained his feet, but Krohn followed up with a tight clinch and some solid knees to the head of Kaszowski. Securing a second takedown, Krohn achieved the mount and worked some solid ground and pound to end out round one.

Round two began with some solid stand-up exchanges, until Kaszowski landed a low blow on Krohn, prompting referee George Allen to halt the bout and give Krohn some time to recover. When the action resumed, Krohn came back with a vengeance, securing a high clinch into a slam, followed by a transition from scarf hold to side control. Kaszowski soon regained his feet, and the two fighters scrapped for position to close out the round.

Round three began with some ineffective striking and continued with some ineffective clinch work as both fighters began to show signs of fatigue. Krohn eventually secured a clinch, where he worked the takedown and rode out the remainder of the fight with some solid ground and pound. All three judges scored the bout 30-27 and Krohn took home the unanimous decision victory.

The night continued with action in the Middleweight class as IFL veterans Matt Horwich and Brent Beauparlant took to the ring for the third bout of the night. Horwich attracted some attention as he entered the ring carrying his Bible and prostrated himself for a pre-bout prayer during the introductions. Once the bell sounded, however, Horwich was anything but meek, putting Beauparlant on the defensive with a relentless barrage of strikes. Taking advantage of Beauparlant's backward motion, Horwich secured the takedown, but Beauparlant scrambled quickly to his feet. Not to be denied, Horwich resumed his tireless striking offensive, prompting a takedown attempt by Beauparlant. Moving to the ground, Horwich landed a solid upkick to stun Beauparlant, before securing an omoplata. Beauparlant looked to be in trouble, but successfully defended until the end of the round.

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