The IFL Las Vegas came to us all live on Feburary 29, 2008 from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. We're talking about three championship fights on one night. Ryan McGivern vs. Matt Horwich (middleweight: a rematch); Fabiano Scherner vs. Roy Nelson (heavyweight); and John Gunderson vs. Ryan Schultz (lightweight: a rematch).
Starting things off was a middleweight match between Leopoldo Serao and former TUF finalist Josh Haynes. The first round was a rather uneventful one, with Haynes looking to strike and Serao looking to take things to the ground. Who won it? Not sure: There was too little action to say. Haynes hit home with a few shots standing up and Serao looked for some unsuccessful submissions on the ground.
The second round was a little different in that Haynes clearly got the better of Serao on his feet and hit home with several shots in ground and pound style toward the end of the round. Still, it was not the most exciting round, primarily because Haynes didn't want to go to the ground and Serao didn't want to swing away.
Still, a clear one for Haynes.
The third stanza worked out differently for the two combatants. Serao took Haynes's back and continually went for the rear naked choke. The former TUF star defended well. After several minutes of this, he was able to get out and to his feet. For the rest of the round, which was well less than a minute, Haynes connected with several good shots. Would have to say that Serao won the final round.
Still, give Haynes the first round on aggressiveness and therefore the fight. The judges agreed.
Josh Haynes wins via unanimous decision.
Next, Alexandre Ferreira took on Lew Polley in a heavyweight match up. The story on this bout was simple. Ferreira came out and nailed Polley with a hard left and followed things up with a left- right combination. A moment later, he sunk in a standing guillotine on his dizzied opponent. When the referee pulled Ferreira off, Polley was clearly near blacking out. An impressive and extremely fast victory.
Alexandre Ferreira wins via standing guillotine choke after only 20 seconds of round one.
Next up, Team Quest's Jake Ellenberger took on the Lion's Den's Pat Healy. Said Healy before the bout: "If you're not in this sport to be a world champion, I don't know why you're in it." Well, that pretty much says all that needs to be said on his focus.
Though Healy showed his toughness in the first round, he wasn't able to show much else. Ellenberger connected with several hard shots from the outset on his feet and then took Healy down where he ground and pounded his way to winning the initial round and cutting his opponent.
Round two went off much like the first had. Ellenberger hit home with several punches in combination style. Further, he connected with some nice knees and took Healy down. From there, mild ground and pound ensued until there was about 1:30 left in the round when Healy was able to get to his feet.
Unfortunately, Ellenberger was able to take him down again and pounded his way through until the end of the round.
In the third stanza, Healy connected with a nice punch off the bat and took Ellenberger down along the ropes. From there, some fun back and forth action ensued both on the feet and the ground, ending with Ellenberger on top looking to control his way until the end of the round. But Healy, showing the heart of a champion, continued to fight until the end. Give Healy this round. But in the end, he had to stop Ellenberger in the third to win and didn't.
Jake Ellenberger wins via unanimous decision.
Next, the IFL brought us the first championship bout of the night when current IFL Lightweight Champion Ryan Schultz took on John Gunderson. Said, Schultz before the fight: "I'm definitely getting my hand raised at the end of the night."
The first round wasn't extremely active. Still, Schultz was able to turn a Gunderson takedown attempt around on him and ended up on top on the canvas. From there, he hit home with some sporadic ground and pound. First round: Schultz.
The second round saw Gunderson gain the takedown that he was looking for early on. That said, he was able to do very little with the takedown; in fact, most of the time he was on top was spent with his head in a guillotine choke attempt. Eventually, though, Schultz turned things over and demonstrated some ground and pound for the rest of the stanza. Second round: Schultz.
The third round started with a hard takedown by Schultz. And several minutes of ground and pound later, the round was over. Round three: Schultz.
The fourth round was interesting. John Gunderson hit home with some nice shots on his feet, gained a strong takedown, and then toward the end of the round connected with a nice knee to the head. Fourth round: Gunderson.
In the fifth, Schultz took his opponent down right off the bat. After persevering through a strong guillotine attempt by the challenger, he engaged in ground and pound until approximately the 1:20 mark when the referee stood them up. But moments later, Schultz took his opponent down again. Give this stanza to Schultz. Same thing with the fight.
Ryan Schultz wins via unanimous decision. Afterwards he said, "it wasn't one of my more exciting fights." That was true. But he's still got the belt.
Next up was another championship bout, this one in the heavyweight division between Roy "Big Country" Nelson and Fabiano Scherner. The Lion's Den vs. Team Quest. Said Scherner of his opponent beforehand, "he's a really dangerous fighter."
Turned out that was an understatement.
Surprisingly, Nelson went for the takedown early and secured it. Though Scherner was able to get to his feet, Big Country put him right back on the canvas again. Moments later in the corner, Nelson stood over his downed opponent and connected with two straight hard rights before the referee stepped in.
Roy Nelson wins via TKO at 3:20 of round one.
Boy that Nelson is one powerful guy.
Finally, came the Middleweight Championship bout between Matt Horwich and Ryan McGivern. Horwich was the champion; McGivern won the last time the two got together. Who would take it?
The first round was a good one. For the most part, anytime there was distance between the two fighters McGivern hit home with the better strikes and also gained a takedown (though Horwich did nail his opponent with a nice kick to the body). However, Horwich did continually bring the fight to the clinch and did a good job there. Close round. Give it to McGivern.
McGivern secured another takedown near the start of round two. For the majority of the stanza, McGivern did some ground and pound and looked for arm locks to no avail. But toward the end of the stanza, Horwich caught his opponent in an omoplata. Somehow, McGivern didn't tap. But the move may have won the round for Horwich.
The third was also a good stanza with a lot of stand up action. McGivern was a little crisper with his hands. But Horwich did a good job of mauling his opponent inside at times and also hit home with several solid kicks to the midsection and face. Give this one to Horwich.
The fourth round was a very good one for McGivern. He hit home with several nice punches on the feet, and turned over a Horwich takedown attempt. From there, he connected with some solid ground and pound. This round went to McGivern.
The fifth once again went to McGivern who kept the fight standing and landed some stinging punches. And with that, he got the belt.
Ryan McGivern wins via unanimous decision.
In the end, this version of the IFL wasn't the most exciting that the organization has ever put on. Still, the McGivern- Horwich fight was an excellent one and Roy Nelson showed what he's about once more in dramatic fashion. Beyond that, Alexandre Ferreira sure did look like a guy to contend with. For those reasons alone, it was worth taking in.