Smith Wins; Condors, Silverbacks Still in Hunt

By Greg Savage May 20, 2007
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., May 19 -- The International Fight League's 2007 season continued from Chicagoland with two team match-ups and a highly anticipated rematch between mixed martial arts legends Maurice Smith (Pictures) and Marco Ruas (Pictures).

The crowd of 5,286 at the Sears Centre watched on as Smith battled his way to a fourth round stoppage win over his fellow IFL coach.

In team action the Quad Cites Silverbacks defeated the Chicago Red Bears 3-2 and the Southern California Condors dispatched the San Jose Razorclaws by an identical 3-2 score.

Super Fight

The showdown between Smith and Ruas, a rematch from UFC 21 in July of 1999, saw the same outcome as Smith took home the TKO victory when Ruas' corner threw in the towel late in the fourth period.

The fight started well for the Condor's coach, who stalked Smith around the ring looking to strike with the veteran kickboxer. Ruas scored a few takedowns and even came close to finishing the fight with a North-South choke as the third round came to a close.

Three rounds in Ruas was pitching a shutout and looked to be on his way to avenging his previous loss until he hit the wall early in the fourth round. That is when Smith, still looking fresh and moving well, began to mount his comeback.

It was an overhand right, left head-kick, overhand right combination that left Ruas struggling to regain his wits just moments into the frame. Unable to fend off the Tigershark's coach, Ruas fell back to his guard in an attempt to engage Smith on the mat. The well-traveled veteran declined and Ruas was brought back to his feet.

Bleeding from his nose and mouth and gasping for air, Ruas could not hold up under the attack and once again rolled to his guard. Whether he refused to or simply could not get back to his feet, the Brazilian's corner threw in the towel, ending the fight at 3:43 of the fourth round.

"I am a bad old man," quipped a happy Smith during the post-fight press conference.

A confident Smith went on to compare his skills at 45 with today's athletes, at least in his noted specialty: striking.

"Talking about pure striking, nobody in this business, from our guys here in the IFL to PRIDE guys or UFC guys will beat me in striking," declared the decorated kickboxer. "Keep in mind when I say that, it only refers to striking, not MMA."

On his plans for the future, Smith made it clear he has no illusions of taking home a world title, but showed how much he still loves to compete in a sport he helped pioneer.

"Do I have any plans or ambitions for a title? No. I'm just here because I enjoy it."

Quad Cities Edges Chicago

Defending IFL champion Quad Cities Silverbacks were in need of a big win to make sure they would have the ability to defend their title come playoff season. A 5-0 sweep was the goal, but after the five-fight series they had to settle for a 3-2 victory over the hometown Red Bears.

Quad Cities star Bart Palaszewski (Pictures) made quick work of Red Bear John Strawn (Pictures) with a pinpoint left hook that robbed Strawn of his faculties at the 48-second mark of the opening round. After a brief clinch "Bartimus" imposed his will on an overmatched Strawn with the powerful fight-ending outburst.

Adam Maciejewski (Pictures) gave the Chicago crowd something to cheer about as the light heavyweight dropped Silverback Mike Ciesnolevicz (Pictures) with an overhand right in the opening exchange.

The Chicago fighter immediately locked up a guillotine choke as Ciesnolevicz attempted to get back to his feet. The choke looked deep but the Quad Cities representative would not give in and eventually worked his way out, only to be slammed to the mat by Maciejewski. The rest of the frame was spent with Maciejewski pounding away and Ciesnolevicz defending.

The second round began with Ciesnolevicz trying to get his offense on track, as he moved forward and threw punches. Maciejewski stopped the momentum by depositing Ciesnolevicz to the mat, however the Silverback reversed position and made his way to full-mount, where he showered punches down on Maciejewski until referee George Allan intervened at the 2:16 mark. Ciesnolevicz's win gave Quad Cities a dominating 2-0 lead.

Chicago's Tim Kennedy (Pictures) took control of his match with Silverback middleweight Ryan McGivern (Pictures) early in the first period. After the two briefly exchanged strikes on the feet -- with both men landing -- Kennedy scored a takedown that allowed him to strike from the top.

McGivern did make his way back to his feet with about 30 seconds left in the frame but Kennedy quickly tossed him back to the mat with a nice throw.

The second round once again began with a striking exchange, this time McGivern landed the better strikes. Perhaps feeling a little more confidence, the Quad Cities competitor shot in for a double-leg takedown only to find himself caught in a loose guillotine choke attempt. Kennedy quickly locked up his guard and sank the choke at 1:25 thus putting his team on the board and halving the Silverbacks lead to 2-1.

Ben Rothwell (Pictures) of the Silverbacks found himself with journeyman Travis Fulton (Pictures) of the Red Bears in his guard just a minute into the opening round. After initially stalking Fulton around the ring, Rothwell fell victim to a takedown. Undeterred, Rothwell began a string of submission attempts that began with a armbar and culminated in a gogoplata.

The crafty Fulton did not succumb, but soon found himself on the bottom as Rothwell stood and then reversed him in the ensuing scramble. The Quad Cities heavyweight then took the Red Bear's back and attempted to pound out the stoppage win. Fulton would not quit and Rothwell, tired of punching, stood up and allowed Fulton back to his feet. Fulton immediately shot but was stuffed by Rothwell as the round came to a close.

The second round was all Rothwell. The Kenosha, Wis. native opened with a jab that snapped Fulton's head back and forced him into the corner. Rothwell then pushed Fulton's head down and delivered a slew of knees to his face. Rothwell pushed Fulton to the mat and set up camp in side-control, where he pounded away but could not make his foe.

Tired of the ground-and-pound approach, Rothwell reached down and locked up a painful looking Kimura that finally elicited the tapout he was seeking at 3:11 of the second round. The win gave the Silverbacks an overwhelming 3-1 lead, ending the Red Bear's hopes of a home victory.

With playoff hopes still on the line despite a win in the team competition, the Silverbacks brought in UFC veteran Josh Neer (Pictures) to fill in for injured welterweight Rory Markham (Pictures). Standing in his way was Chicago Red Bear Mark Miller.

Miller had no qualms about possibly spoiling the Quad Cities playoff hopes, as he knocked out Neer with a bone-crushing right hook just 54 into the scrap.

The two fighters circled and traded punches before Miller pushed Neer back into the ropes and landed the combination of punches that was punctuated by the right hook that sent Neer to la la land with his eyes still wide open.

The 3-2 win leaves the defending champion Silverbacks in need of some good fortune to reach the playoffs in 2007.

"It's tough to gauge what's going to happen," Quad Cities coach Pat Miletich (Pictures) said regarding the team's precarious situation stating. "The guys did great, we had some very tough fights."

"We expected to go 5-0 but we didn't and that's the breaks," continued the former UFC welterweight champion. "That's the way the ball bounces, but if we're given the chance we're gonna capitalize."

"I'm disappointed we didn't win 4-1 or 5-0," commented Silverback light heavyweight Mike Ciesnolevicz (Pictures). "But we'll see how it plays out. It comes down to criteria now and fastest wins and me Bart [Palaszewski] and Ben [Rothwell] finishing, all finishing our fights pretty quick, I think will help us out."

Silverback L.C. Davis kept his record spotless with a submission (guillotine choke) win over Red Bear veteran Jay Estrada (Pictures) 33 seconds of the second round of their alternate bout.

Despite win, Condors playoff hopes dim

It was with a heavy heart the Southern California Condors returned to IFL action. Just two weeks removed from the tragic death of Condor middleweight Jeremy Williams, the team hoped to win by a big enough margin to ensure their advancement into the IFL championship round.

A clean sweep would have gone a long way in helping the playoff cause, but they had to settle for the slimmest of victory margins in their 3-2 win.

Donnie Liles (Pictures) did his San Jose Razorclaw team proud in his victory over Condor Rodrigo Ruas (Pictures). The two combatants traded strikes early, with Ruas pushing Liles back to the ropes. From the clinch, Liles secured half-guard off of a scramble, where he followed with a continuous helping of ground-and-pound. After softening Ruas up, Liles notched the victory via keylock at 3:24 of the first frame.

Southern California's Antoine Jaoude (Pictures) opened the action by landing a right hand that may have included a thumb to the eye of Razorclaw heavyweight Dan Christison (Pictures), who immediately grimaced.

Jaoude took advantage of the opening and fired away another flurry of punches. The takedowns along with his striking advantage garnered the first round for Jaoude.

The pace slowed to a crawl for most of the second frame with Jaoude gaining the only advantage with a powerful takedown. Christison was able to get back to his feet before tangling a slowing Jaoude against the ropes, where he used his knees in close to totally neutralize the wrestler.

There was a short spurt of action towards the end of the round, as the fighters traded punches before the bell sounded. Christison's activity put the round in his column.

Jaoude used three takedowns and a number of leg kicks to cement the heavyweight bout for the Condors. Both men were visibly spent as the third round got under way, but Jaoude dug a little deeper and used the wrestling ability that made him an Olympian in 2004 to take home the win. The judges' scorecards were unanimous, all three reading 29-28 in favor of Jaoude, evening the team score 1-1.

Emanuel Newton (Pictures) made his IFL debut in style by choking Jeff Quinlan (Pictures) unconscious with an arm-triangle choke at 3:37 of the opening period. Newton impressed the Chicago crowd with a pair of big slam takedowns, one a body lock and the second a big double-leg slam. The end came when Newton jumped to side-control and sunk the winning choke to give the Condors a 2-1 lead.

So Cal lightweight Adam Lynn (Pictures) opened strong by dropping Josh Odom (Pictures) with a left hook just under a minute into the fight. Lynn continued to pressure the San Jose fighter throughout the entire first frame with an aggressive ground-and-pound game. Odom's only offense came when he attempted an armbar from the bottom position. Lynn shrugged it off and finished the round strong.

Round two began with Lynn pressing the action once again. However, Odom countered with a salvo of punches to stop the assault. In the ensuing exchange Lynn landed a direct kick to the groin. After a brief recovery period Odom was ready to continue, but Lynn scored a takedown off the restart and went back to work from the top.

The Condor lightweight was nearly able to end the bout with a tight Kimura as the second round came to a close, but Odom escaped and began to flurry as the stanza ended.

Lynn salted away the victory with another strong round in the third thus giving the Condors an insurmountable 3-1 lead. The fight was effectively over when Lynn scored a beautiful outside trip takedown 1:30 into the final frame.

He controlled the rest of the fight from the top, insuring his team's victory. The judges' scorecards read 30-27 across the board.

With the team competition over but the playoff status still undecided, Brian Foster (Pictures) of the Razorclaws and Justin Levens (Pictures) of the Condors took to the ring and the leather quickly began to fly.

The fighters engaged and Foster got the better of the exchange with Levens slipping to his back after missing with a knee. Foster improved his position and opened up with a volley of punches that left Levens covering in an absolutely defensive position.

When he did not attempt to move referee Cam McHargue stepped in to stop the bout at 1:17 of the first round. The final tally on the team competition is 3-2 in favor of the Condors.

"To be honest with you I'm not sure how the standings are going to go," declared Condor lightweight Adam Lynn (Pictures). "I know it would have been optimal if we would have swept them or gone 4-1. I guess we're just going to have to wait and see what kind of happens in the next couple weeks."

Lynn, one of Jeremy Williams closest friends, also spoke about his teammate's death and if affected the team as they made their final arrangements for their last team competition of the IFL regular season.

"It was real emotional the first couple days and it still is," he said. "It still hasn't fully hit me yet. What happened with Jeremy happened and we can't do anything to bring him back.

"I'm really going to miss the guy. I was really close to him but we had a job to do, we did it, and now maybe we can relax we can sit back and reflect on it.

"Everyone who knew the guy knew what a great person he was … that's where we are right now."

In an alternate match, Condor Danny Suarez (Pictures) took home a split-decision win over Razorclaw Clint Coronel (Pictures) after an overtime round.
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