The IFO held their last event Friday, Dec 28 at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. With all the hustle and hype of other year-end MMA events, it'd be easy to overlook "Fireworks in the Cage IV" but Steele Cage's growing promotion was out to prove that any MMA fan who overlooks them is missing out.
In the main event, Travis Wiuff (48-12-0) showed the importance of nicknames as "Diesel" ran over the ill-prepared Jesse "Candyhands" Veium (12-2-0) to retain his IFO 205lb title.
Veium took the fight on short notice after French striker Cyrille Diabate was pulled off the card for undisclosed reasons and it clearly showed. Wiuff opened with an explosive takedown and slam, putting the challenger on his back. For roughly three minutes, he did very little from his opponent's guard and was likely on the verge of the referee standing the fight up when, suddenly, he postured up and rained down crushing punches and elbows. The ref jumped in to save Veium at 3:25 in the opening round. The loss snaps Veium's 11 fight win streak and extends Wiuff's to five. The veteran was calm in victory, mentioning that this was, hopefully, a victory leading him back to the big shows.
The co-main event showcased the smaller guys as King of the Cage junior flyweight champion Del "Philipino Delight" Hawkins (22-12-0) took out Brandon Foxworth (15-4-0) to win the IFO Bantamweight championship.
Foxworth shot in immediately for the takedown, but was stuffed. In return, Hawkins scored a takedown of him own from the clinch. A Foxworth sweep put him on top but Hawkins, again, responded with a sweep of his own ? right into a guillotine. In what would turn out to be his most advantageous position of the night, Foxworth held the guillotine tightly for a long while, but Hawkins was too slippery. After inactivity on the ground, mainly due to a stifling body triangle from Foxworth, referee Herb Dean gets the fight back on its feet. Hawkins unloads some quick combos before taking the fight back to the ground. Once again, Foxworth's guard kept damage to a minimum for most of the round. Hawkins managed to stand and deliver a big right just before the bell.
The rest of the fight was all Hawkins. He opened the second by taking Foxworth to the ground and landing strikes. He then stood out of his opponent's guard and landed more strikes on the feet. The "Philipino Delight" lands a big shot that forces Foxworth to change levels, but Hawkins is relentless, throwing more punches then a knee that landed hard and may've been illegal as Foxworth's knees were dangerously close to the ground. Hawkins immediately takes Foxworth's back and latches on a near fight-ending rear naked, but Foxworth defended beautifully and rolls onto his back. Hawkins spends the remainder of the round utilizing some excellent ground and pound to continually force Foxworth squirming for a better position.
Hawkins landed hard at the beginning of the third and Fox was clearly rocked. Hawkins forces him to the ground and unleashes some more ground and pound before standing out of Foxworth's guard. Back on the feet, Hawkins unleashes combos that get the fight near a stoppage but Foxworth shows incredibly heart by scoring a takedown in the face of a barrage. Hawkins attempts to reverse positions but ends up in a leg lock that was only dangerous for a second before he slipped out and took mount. From there, his ground and pound takes its toll, forcing Foxworth to tap out at 3:42.
Boxing star Elena "Baby Doll" Reid (1-0-0) was successful in her mixed martial arts debut, scoring a TKO at 2:05 of the second round over Tammie Schneider (1-3-0).
Schneider wanted no part of the striking game. She rushed in for the clinch but couldn't hold the boxer there as "Baby Doll" created distance and managed to land her first jab of the fight. Schneider shot for a double leg and held on for a good portion of the round before Reid, who had simply rained down body punches to avoid the takedown, pushed forward and landed in mount. There she finally got the chance to let her hands go, striking down hard and nearly getting a first round victory before the bell rings. Back in her corner, one of Reid's cornermen demonstrates the sprawl.
Reid, interestingly, throws some kicks at the beginning of the second before getting into the clinch and landing some well-practiced looking Thai knees. With her credibility as an MMA striker established, "Baby Doll" went back to what she does best ? boxing. She pushes away and tees off on her opponent, mixing a brutal body combination in with the occasional hook to the head. The referee stops the bout and Reid gets the first win of her MMA career.
A featherweight bout between American Top Team's Reynaldo " Reyzinho" Duarte (3-3-0) and Xtreme Couture's Dennis "The Pirhana" Davis (13-6-0) ends in a unanimous decision for The Pirhana.
Duarte's constant, wavy movement causes problems for Davis early and allows the ATT fighter to land some solid leg kicks in the opening round. By the second, though, Davis finds his range and settles into a comfortable rhythym, scoring with punch combos to the head and body. Duarte scores an early takedown, but Davis reverses and stands back up. The third round is easily controlled by "The Pirhana", and the judges give him the nod (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Jeff Cox (9-4-0) scored a late TKO over a blue-haired Joe "The Show" Cronin (9-8-0).
Idle might be the best word to describe the lightweight bout. On the feet, the fighters looked hesitant to strike and the times it hit the ground ended with the crowd cheering the referee for standing it back up. In the third round, though, the inactivity came to a screeching halt as Cox planted an overhand right on his opponents, dropping him to the canvas and prompting Steve Mazzagatti to stop the bout just 55 seconds into the third.
Ryan "Darth" Bader (4-0-0), coming out to a stirring rock rendition of his nicknamesake's theme song, was simply too much for Brad Peterson (2-1-0) as he went on to get a unanimous nod from the judges.
The two wrestlers managed to hit nothing but air more than Shaq at the free throw line, but they showed great wrestling skills early on. In the end, "Darth" Bader's takedowns tired out his foe, getting him the necessary points on the judges' scorecards.
In the opening bout, Buddy Roberts (3-1-0) tapped out Dennis Bacon (1-1-0) with a rear naked choke at 1:06 of the first round.
Roberts scored a takedown, took Bacon's back, and sunk in the choke. It was a simple, efficient victory that got the night out to a good start.
The IFO knows how to do MMA and it showed. The production value of this event was noticeably better than the last and there was a smooth transition between fights. Unfortunately, Waachiim Spiritwolf didn't get to fight his original opponent, Joey Varner, nor his replacement opponent, Chris Reedy. With a crucial fight off the card, the event, while lacking on big names, was a solid one in its own right and a great way to end the year for the IFO.