Friday, March 16, 2007

IFL LA Preview 2

By Ben Fowlkes

The second edition of our two part preview of IFL LA focuses on the much-anticipated match-up between Bas Rutten’s Los Angeles Anacondas and their upstate rivals, Frank Shamrock’s Razorclaws.

This contest should provide an interesting test for the Anacondas, who are coming off a huge win over the defending champion Silverbacks in February. The Razorclaws are winless so far this season, but coach Shamrock is hoping to remedy this problem by replacing three of his five starters from the beginning of the year.

It’s fairly obvious that the ‘Claws need a win here just to stay in contention. They won’t get an easy pass against Rutten’s squad, though, as they look to prove they are unquestionably the league’s best team.

155lbs.: Chris Horodecki (Anacondas) vs. Josh Odom (Razorclaws)

Chris Horodecki Last FightAt 8-0 and just nineteen years old, Horodecki is the talk of the league. The Polish-Canadian striker brings a formidable combination of power and speed, and he’s known for pushing the pace early on against his opponents. His dramatic decision victory over the Silverbacks’ Bart Palaszewski in Houston proved he has the toughness to match his skill, as he was nearly choked out in the first round before rallying to win.

Odom is clearly the underdog in this one, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. No one can question Odom’s heart and determination, both of which were on display in his losing effort against rising-star John Gunderson.

If Odom looks to stand and strike with Horodecki, as he has said he would like to, it could be a quick night. Horodecki just has to guard against carelessness or overconfidence, because Odom has the one-punch power to end a fight at any time.

170 lbs.: Jay Hieron (Anacondas) vs. Donnie Liles ( Razorclaws)

Hieron has been a top welterweight performer since his entry into the IFL, and the Anacondas have come to depend on his consistent performances. He’s explosive on the feet, and very attack-oriented on the ground, creating a lot of problems for opponents who lack competence in either aspect of the game.

Liles is one of the new additions to Shamrock’s crew, and one Shamrock says he expects big things out of. This is his first bout in the IFL and he’s drawn a tough opponent to start with. If he can pull out the upset over Hieron, he’ll quickly make his mark in the league.

185 lbs.: Benji Radach (Anacondas) vs. Brian Foster (Razorclaws)

Radach made a triumphant return to the ring in February, putting an end to several years of inactivity brought on by a string of unfortunate injuries. That return was almost cut short when the Silverbacks’ Ryan McGivern dropped him with a big right in the opening seconds, but Radach showed his mettle by battling back to win.

Foster was one of only two starting fighters to survive Shamrock’s roster shake-up, which should say something about the confidence his coach has in him. He overpowered the Lions’ Dan Molina in his last outing, but Radach is a more experienced fighter who won’t be pushed around so easily.

Foster would probably prefer to get this one to the mat early on and avoid the punching power of Radach on the feet. While Radach has to be the favorite here, Foster could dramatically improve his team’s chances with a win in this one.

205 lbs.: Alex Schoenauer (Anacondas) vs. Brian Ebersole (Razorclaws)

Schoenauer hasn’t had much luck in his IFL career thus far, falling victim to questionable decisions and costly referee errors. While he’s not exactly an explosive fighter, his suffocating attack and methodical style can frustrate inexperienced opponents. The Anacondas really need him to step-up and become a force in the light heavyweight division, and this may be his chance.

Ebersole has been with Shamrock for some time, but this will be his first fight for the Razorclaws. Brought in to replace Raphael Davis, he has more fights to his credit than the rest of the team and should be a positive influence in the locker room. The ‘Claws need him to be a team leader in the ring if they hope to have a chance here.

265 lbs.: Krzysztof Soszynski (Anacondas) vs. Dan Christison (Razorclaws)

Aside from having the most difficult name to spell in all the league, Soszynski is thought to be one of its fastest rising stars. His teammates can’t stop talking about how quickly this former pro wrestler is improving in his skills, and coach Rutten is particularly excited about his long-term potential.

Christison is the biggest recent pick-up for the Razorclaws, both in stature and in reputation. A former “Ultimate Fighter” contestant, the 6’8” Christison has surprising agility for a big man, and Shamrock says he’s impressed by his technical prowess on the ground.

It’s hard to pick a winner in this one. Christison is a tough opponent for anyone. He is the only fighter in the league to have beaten the thus far dominant Ben Rothwell, and you can bet the Silverbacks big man will have his eye on this fight. Soszynski could take the next step in his career by winning this one, but Christison is going to make him earn it.

It all takes place this Saturday, March 17th, at 7:30 pm from the L.A. Forum. will feature a play-by-play account of the event with complete photos and results live from ringside, so check back on Saturday night to see how the action unfolds.

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