Friday, April 6, 2007

IFL Moline Preview, Part 2

By Ben Fowlkes

On Saturday night, the IFL’s defending champions take to the ring in a fight just to stay in contention. In their way will be Ken Shamrock’s Nevada Lions, who have made it clear that they don’t intend to be anyone’s stepping stone into the playoffs – not even if that someone is the Silverbacks.

The card includes some big match-ups, pitting veterans against the new guard of MMA, and rising stars trying to make a name for themselves against established fighters. If you can’t get to the event tomorrow night, be sure to check our live play-by-play on to see how all the action unfolds.

155 lbs: Bart Palaszewski (Silverbacks) vs. John Gunderson (Lions)

Palaszewski is fresh off his controversial decision loss to Chris Horodecki, and looking for revenge. He’ll likely look to keep this one on the feet if he can, considering his belief that he has the heaviest hands in the division. The Silverbacks have come to depend on consistent performances from Palaszewski, and as he goes, so may go the team.

Gunderson drew the ire of injured Silverbacks light heavyweight Mike Ciesnolevicz for comments he made in a recent interview, but his focus will have to be squarely on his opponent for this one. Gunderson seems to realize that he is the underdog here, and is looking to capitalize with a victory over a name fighter that would catapult him into the top of the IFL’s lightweight ranks.

Palaszewski might prefer to make this a brawl, but Gunderson may well look to put him on his back and minimize his punching power. A methodical, grinding victory could be the key for Gunderson, although Palaszewski has enough patience and endurance to wait for an opening in the later rounds.

170 lbs: Rory Markham (Silverbacks) vs. Pat Healy (Lions)

Markham is making his return to the ring for the first time since his TKO loss to Chris Wilson in the 2006 finals. An eye injury kept him out of the last Silverbacks event, and it may have cost them the match as their substitute didn’t appear to be up to the challenge. Now Markham wants to get in the ring and slug it out, perhaps furthering his hard-hitter reputation in the process.

Healy scored a clear decision victory his last time out, but he hasn’t faced competition this tough in the IFL yet. Saturday night’s outcome will say a lot about where his career is, and a win over Markham would put him on the map right away.

Healy doesn’t want to get into a slugfest with Markham, who’s proved he can take a punch as good as he can give one. He should look to test Markham’s ground skills and frustrate him into making a mistake. If he doesn’t, he may wake up on his back.

185 lbs: Ryan McGivern (Silverbacks) vs. Dan Molina (Lions)

McGivern’s last outing was almost over before it started, as he floored Benji Radach with a huge right hand. But Radach rallied to beat McGivern, and now the former Hawkeye wrestler needs to get back in the win column. McGivern has uncommon punching prowess for a fighter from a wrestling background, and it should serve him well if he can maintain the range he needs to unleash it.

Molina was TKO’d by Brian Foster in his last fight, so he has yet to notch a win in the IFL. He’s a fighter who’s been under Shamrock’s system for years and has strong wrestling skills, but we’ve yet to see him find his stride.

McGivern may look to put Molina on his back early on and test his jiu-jitsu, although he may have the striking advantage in this one if he chooses to use it. Molina will likely want to suffocate McGivern and push the pace from the outset, which should test both men’s cardio.

205 lbs: Sam Hoger (Silverbacks) vs. Vernon White (Lions)

Hoger, a former “Ultimate Fighter” contestant, is filling in for injured teammate Mike Ciesnolevicz in his first IFL appearance. Miletich is hoping Hoger’s athleticism can best White’s experience, and that this substitution will yield better results than the last one.

White is a wily veteran with over thirteen years’ experience in MMA. His stand-up game is his biggest strength, though over time he’s become more well-rounded than most fighters he came through the ranks with. White is hoping to find a new life in the IFL, and Shamrock needs him to be a leader in and out of the ring.

265 lbs: Ben Rothwell (Silverbacks) vs. Roy Nelson (Lions)

As usual, Rothwell is the heavy favorite in this one. The big man is undefeated in the IFL, and his impressive skill set makes his attack uncommonly diverse for a heavyweight. The Silverbacks have come to think of Rothwell as an automatic victory, and for good reason, but Nelson will look to test his ground game.

Nelson is known for being an excellent grappler and submissions artist, so he’ll want to avoid exchanging punches on the feet with Rothwell. We’ve yet to see Rothwell’s takedown defense tested – something we probably won’t be able to say after this match.

Nelson needs to put Rothwell down if he wants to have a chance. Rothwell will be trying to keep his distance and strike, but don’t expect him to fall to pieces if his back hits the mat, either.

The action gets underway at 8:30 pm est, and you can get updated on the action live from ringside via the play-by-play.

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