Who doesn’t enjoy a good coming out party? For the Los Angeles Anacondas, St. Patrick’s Day at the Great Western Forum produced a bounty of pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars and green clovers. The Anacondas trounced the San Jose Razorclaws via a 5-0 shutout at Los Angeles’ inaugural International Fight League (IFL) event.
For those unfamiliar with the IFL, its first full season was officially launched this past January. The IFL is different than other Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) organizations in that it is the world’s first team based league, culminating in a championship series slated for September. As a testament to the rapid growth of MMA, it’s also the first organization to air in prime time on network television on a weekly basis – a far cry from the earlier, dark days of unsanctioned, gambling hall debacles seeming to spring up out of out of the blue and disappear just as quickly.
Currently there are 12 teams, however, 2008 will see an additional five added, bringing the total to 17. Each team is made up of five up and coming and/or established fighters as well as one legendary coach. The team line-up consists of the Los Angeles Anacondas who, up until fight day, were helmed by Bas Rutten (Rutten opted to step down in order to pursue a color commentator and TV personality position with the IFL, and handed the reigns over to assistant coach Shawn Tomkins); the San Jose Razorclaws, led by Frank Shamrock; the Southern California Condors, coached by Marco Ruas; the Seattle Tiger Sharks, under the guise of Maurice Smith; the Quad Cities Silver Backs, overseen by Pat Miletich; the Tokyo Sabres, coached by Ken Yasuda; the New York Pitbulls, coached by Renzo Gracie; the Portland Wolfpack, helmed by Matt Lindland; The Toronto Dragons, led by Carlos Newton; the Nevada Lions, mentored by Ken Shamrock; the Chicago Red Bears, coached by Igor Zinoviev; and lastly, the Tucson Scorpions, overseen by Don Frye.
In addition to the Anacondas/Razorclaws match up, the Tokyo Sabres earned a 3-2 victory over the Southern California Condors of Newport Beach.
The first bout of the evening pitted light heavyweights Alex Schoenauer of the Anacondas (2-0) against the Razorclaws’ (0-2) Brian Ebersole in a thrill-packed, see-saw battle which saw Schoenauer take a split decision victory over the colorful and entertaining Ebersole. Anaconda middleweight Benji Radach made quick work of Brian Foster with a first-round TKO via the guillotine choke, while lightweight sensation, Chris Horodecki notched a unanimous decision win over a game but relatively ineffective, Josh Odom, thus clinching the victory for the Anacondas and elevating his record to an unblemished 9-0. To add insult to injury, veteran welterweight Jay Hieron dominated Donnie Liles, ultimately garnering a submission victory via the guillotine choke, late in the first round. As a final cherry on the sundae and in what many thought was the fight of the night, heavyweight Krzysztof Soszynski decisioned unanimously over the towering Dan Christison.
In the Sabres/Condors match up, lightweight Savant Young got things cracking for the Sabres (2-0) with a fiery second-round KO over Adam Lynn. Welterweight Antonio McKee earned a unanimous nod over Rodrigo Ruas thus boosting the Sabres to 2-0 in the contest. Condor (1-1) middleweight Jeremy Williams bisected his team’s deficit by way of a first-round triangle choke on Kazuhiro Hamanaka, in turn procuring a TKO win. Light-heavyweight submission expert Vladimir Matyushenko opted to mix things up by scoring a first-round TKO over Justin Levens, clinching the Sabres team win. In the final contest of the evening, heavyweight Antoine Jaoude toppled the powerfully built Wayne Cole with an exciting second-round KO, securing the Condors a 3-2 win.
Overall, it was an exciting and entertaining night for the fans as well as a banner night for mixed martial arts. Move over boxing, there’s a new sheriff in town.
You can catch the IFL on MyNetworkTV, every Monday at 8 p.m.