IFL World Grand Prix Semis Recap: IFL crowns light heavyweight champ
On the first live network telecast of MMA ever in this country, viewers who tuned in were rewarded with two complete fights -- both ending in decisions -- and highlights from a third fight. Here's a recap of the two IFL Grand Prix fights that were shown as well as my thoughts on the telecast itself.
Vladimir Matyushenko wins IFL light heavyweight belt
In a weight class that was depleted by injuries, Matyushenko went undefeated for the year and won Saturday night by sticking to his game plan. He continuously shot Alex Schoenauer's legs, took Schoenauer down at will (especially in the first two rounds), and dominated on the ground with ground-and-pound. Schoenauer mounted little in the way of offense and was neutralized on his feet. If anything, Matyushenko landed a couple of strong punches early in the first round standing up.
Matyushenko officially won by unanimous decision. I had the score 30-27 for Matyushenko but none of the ringside judges saw it quite that decisively. It was an interestingly refereed fight because it seemed to me that the ref was conscious of the fact that the fight was live on TV and thus appeared a little quick in making the fighters stand up. In fact, in the first round he had the stand up for no apparent reason. It didn't matter though, because Matyushenko rarely had trouble taking the fight to the ground.
Horodecki wins rematch
Chris Horodecki won his semifinal match in the lightweight tournament by split decision over Bart Palaszewski in a fight that really could have gone either way. The judges' scores were all 29-28, which I think was a fair assessment. The fight came down to how an observer scored the final round and it was definitely a close round to call.
Horodecki won the first round by being very active and very accurate with his combinations and his leg kicks. Palaszewski won the second round with some very strong punches that had Horodecki staggered. Palaszewski at point in the second round had Horodecki in a standing guillotine and pounded him with a couple of knees to the head. It was a tremendous effort on Horodecki's part to survive that second round onslaught which represented the best chance either fighter had to stop the fight.
The third round was close. I think Horodecki was rewarded for being more active in that round and I can't argue with the final decision. Horodecki moves on to the finals of the lightweight tournament which will be held Dec. 29.
This makes two fights this year in which Palaszewski has come close to finishing Horodecki only to lose by split decision. The difference between the two fighters is very small and this will be a very nice rivalry for a long time.
I thought the production for this show was good. There was nothing about it that blew me away but I do credit IFL for trying to educate the viewers and for the disclaimer they make in the middle of the telecast about the danger of trying MMA in an unsupervised setting.
We got plenty of Bas Rutten during the telecast, which is a good thing and we got to hear from coaches during the fights, which is also nice. And, there was always a ticker at the top of the screen to keep track of round, time, and the fighters involved.
The telecast made allusions to the IFL's team concept (which will be changing slightly in 2008) but did so in an understated way which was appropriate for the event since it was an individual tournament.
The one thing I do wish is that the fighters would come out to their own music. And, I found the sound effects in the arena rather annoying. In addition, at one point during the telecast the audio was off track from the video.
The camera angles during the fight were good, though.
Overall, I think it was a good start for IFL and for MMA on live network television and I give the telecast a B.