I was live for BloodyElbow.com at IFL's Chicago event Saturday night. My wife, Brittany, was also there to take photos. Unfortunately due to a host of camera problems the photo portion of the article is non-existent. Brittany did a fantastic job of helping me take notes and this article is as much hers as mine.
The anticipated main event between Marco Ruas and Maurice Smith turned out to be a big letdown. For the first 3 rounds there was no real engagement on the feet, 8 time world kickboxing champion Smith threw a total of 3 kicks in 3 rounds while one of the best submission fighters of the old UFC days had dominant ground positions such as full mount and went for no submission attempts or any strikes. By the end of the second round around a third of the crowd had already left, as all through the arena people were trying to figure out why exactly neither fighter was trying to impose his will.
It became clear toward the end of the second round that Ruas was starting to gas and by the fourth round he wasn't able to keep his hands up. As his hands dipped down by his waist Mo took his cue and landed several huge punches as well as a pair of high kicks. It went from a bad fight to a sad fight as Ruas was barely able to stand let alone defend himself and finally his corner had seen enough and threw the towel in.
It was a let-down following a good evening of fights, but Smith was able to at least end the fight decisively. I can honestly see why California wouldn't sanction the bout, watching a man who is closing in on 50 taking shots with his hands down and barely able to stand by the end of the fight bordered on uncomfortable.
Follow after the jump for full results from the evening...
The first prelim fight of the night was also one of the most interesting as Razor Claws lightweight Clint Coronel took on the Condor's Danny Suarez. The first round was dominated by Coronel's crisp striking which kept Suarez looking tentative and sticking to half-hearted shots. The second round started off with Suarez throwing some punches and a couple leg kicks and even an attempted spinning backfist. Suarez did manage two takedowns but Clint was able to get the fight back to standing within 5 seconds and Coronel took advantage of the majority of the time on the feet with more good boxing. In the third round Clint seemed gassed and Danny took advantage clearly winning the round and opening a cut on the Razor Claws fighter. At the end of the three round fight the judges had it a majority draw (28-28, 28-28 and 29-27) so due to IFL rules the fight went to a fourth and deciding round. The fourth was as even as the rest of the fight with Suarez doing some work on the ground and Coronel looking better on the feet. In the end the judges scored it 10-9 Suarez, 10-9 Coronel, and 10-9 Suarez.
Next up was the other prelim fight, also a lightweight bout, between the Silverback's L.C. Davis and the Red Bears' Jay Estrada. Being the local fighter Estrada had a lot of support, including from Shonie Carter who watched the fight next to the press section we were seated in. Despite Carter's statement that "the kid can't wrestle" Davis dominated on the ground. The fight ended with Davis securing a guillotine choke from the top position for the submission victory at 33 seconds of the second round.
The team competitions started with the Razorclaws taking on the Condors. First bout up was Donnie Liles taking on the Condors Rodrigo Ruas. The nephew of Marco Ruas, Rodrigo controlled the early part of the first round standing with nice leg kicks and a few nice knees from a muay thai clinch. The fight eventually went to the ground where the fighters reversed back and forth before Liles was able to get top position and secure a keylock at 3:29 of the first round to give the Razorclaws a 1-0 lead.
The heavyweights took the ring next as Antoine Jaoude of the Condors faced Dan Christison of the Razorclaws. Jaoude's striking is pretty unorthodox and actually very sloppy. He throws kind of awkward strikes and leaves his hand out too long which a good striker will take advantage of somewhere down the road. Tonight was Jaoude's night though as he landed a few shots in striking exchanges and got plenty of takedowns. Jaoude improved to 7-2 with a unanimous decision win, but his style of sloppy stand-up and inactivity while on top on the ground will likely cost him down the road. It was now a 1-1 team score.
Condor light heavyweight Emanuel Newton put his team in the lead 2-1 with a side choke victory as he put Jeff Quinlan to sleep at 3:37 of the first.
Josh Odom of the Razorclaws took on Adam Lynn of the Condors in the lightweight contest. Lynn was hurting Odom on the feet from the start of the first round, eventually the fight went to the ground but Lynn was on top landing a decent amount of punches as the round ended. The second round featured a low blow on a body kick from Lynn which took Odom almost all of the 5 allowed minutes to recover from, once the fight resumed it was more of the same from Lynn including what looked to be a deep armlock but Odom is a tough fighter who worked through it to survive. The third round featured Lynn on top for almost the entire round landing punches. Lynn was awarded a unanimous 30-27 win and the Condors secured the team win by taking a 3-1 lead.
The first team competition ended with the middleweights. Razorclaws fighter Brian Foster landed a big flurry to start the fight, eventually going to the ground Foster sat on top of Justin Levins landing heavy blows forcing the ref to step in and halt the bout at 1:17. The final team score was Condors 3 - Razorclaws 2.
The contest between the Red Bears and the Silverbacks kicked off with the lightweights. Bart Palaszewski returned to his old hard punching form with a dominating KO of Red Bear John Strawn in 48 seconds. "Bartimus" gave the Silverbacks a quick 1-0 lead.
Red Bear light heavyweight Adam Maciejewski put up a good fight providing the local fans with moments of excitement before being stopped in the second round by Mike Ciesnolevicz. Adam landed some decent shots right after the opening bell and then locked in what looked to be a very tight standing guillotine but Mike was able to escape. Adam was able to secure a few more aggressive takedowns but looked like he may have gassed himself with the choke attempt. At 2:16 in the second round after reversing to top position Ciesnolevicz reigned down punches until the ref was forced to stop the fight. The win improved the Silverbacks lead to 2-0.
The eighth fight of the main card featured the middleweights. Red Bear fighter Tim Kennedy was able to get Chicago on the board with a guillotine choke win over Ryan McGivern. It was a surprising fight as Kennedy was supposed to be the kickboxer but he was the one going for the takedowns and eventually securing the choke for the win. It was now 2-1 Silverbacks.
There was a definite buzz in the Sears Centre prior to the heavyweight fight, possibly aided by the large chunk of the crowd belonged to the "Ben Rothwell" fan club. Rothwell took on Red Bear replacement Travis Fulton, veteran of over 200 professional fights. Ben was able to impose his will for the entire fight, landing very good strikes on the feet and doing solid ground work even when Fulton was able to get a takedown in the first. Midway through the second round Rothwell was able to land a lot of clean strikes including four or five consecutive standing knees to the head before the fight went to the ground. Ben was throwing tons of punches to the head before finally locking in a sick looking Kimura for the submission victory. The Silverbacks won the team competition after taking a 3-1 lead.
The final bout of the team portion of the evening lasted only 54 seconds as Mark Miller was able to KO UFC vet Josh Neer with a perfectly set up right hook. The Chicago fans were given a little to cheer for as they were able to close the score to 3-2.
All in all it was a good night with a lot of impressive performances and interesting match-ups. Aside from the main event the show was well received by the crowd and I could see the IFL doing well in return trips in the future.