IFL Battleground: MMA for Dummies

Names like Pat Miletich, Matt Linland, and Renzo Gracie are synomous with the history and legacy of mixed martial arts. Names like Rory Markham, Chris Horodecki, and Ryan Schultz you may not have heard of…at least, not yet. But that was all set to change with the debut of…


Before we begin, let me start off by saying that I have nothing but respect for all of these fighters. I may come off as a little sarcastic at times and there may be people I don’t like, but I don’t want that to take away from the dedication and skill it takes for the warriors we see to get where they are today. In short…they can all kick my ass, and I acknowledge that. So nothing but love to the fighters.

However what was presented last night, or how it was presented, was embarrassing. It was a dumbed down version of everything we’ve seen and grown to love about this sport. It was like watching MMA for Dummies, or a Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mixed Martial Arts. In stead of promoting the sport and the athleticism, it was all about the bone breaking, the blood sport, the punch the other guy in the face until he’s unconscious, and every negative stereotype associated with MMA. Basically, it was everything that douchebags like Phil Mushnick criticize it for.

And for MMA’s big network TV debut to spend two hours hyping up how we were going to get to see someone “carried off on a stretcher” completely undermines everything that the UFC and Pride has done to legitimize this sport. Even Vince McMahon has more class…and that’s just barely.

Every time they announced that “viewer discretion was advised,” I couldn’t tell if it was out of concern for the audience…or if they were trying to sell the fact that you might see blood.

After twenty three minutes of overhype and me wanting to claw my eyes out, we finally got to see some competition. Seven minutes later, three of the nine fights were finished.

Speaking of which…

The fights were all taped during the last season of the IFL, and they sped through them so quickly I have no idea what I saw. In theory, each match consists of three, four-minute rounds…which they didn’t even show you the full four minutes of. I didn’t sit there with a stop watch and there was no clock on the screen, but you would blink while they cut away to the crowd and the next thing you knew the round was over. Did the people who produced this show not think we could sit through a full four minutes? You can’t even give a play by play. It was punch, punch, kick, cut to a hot chick in the audience, five seconds later the fight is over. In one instance, they didn’t even show the referee raising the guys hand in victory. Again, this isn’t a knock on the fighters. It’s how either the IFL or MyNetwork TV (which if you didn’t know, is the new home of the IFL) decided to present them to us.

Bart Palaszewski (Silverbacks) def. John Shackelford – R2 TKO
Ben Rothwell (Silverbacks) def. Krysztof Soszynski – R1 TKO
Rory Markham (Silverbacks) def. Mike Pyle – R1 KO

The Silverbacks are coached by Pat Miletich. The Anacondas are coached by Bas Rutten. Here we are starting to see some character development. They are selling the fact that all the teams will be gunning for the Silverbacks since they are the 2006 champions, and we meet some of the fighters. Palaszewski is the star lightweight. Rothwell likes to hurt people. Markham looks like he’s being groomed to be the MVP of the league AND is a future Hollywood star.

Chris Horodecki (Anacondas) def. Erik Owings

After their loss to the Silverbacks, Rutten went out to recruit the eighteen year old secret weapon known as Chris Horodecki, the “Polish Hammer.” He’s just your average high school kid…who likes to fight.

When then go to the 2006 semi finals…


Chris Horodecki continued his win streak by defeating the Wolfpack’s Ryan Schultz by TKO, twenty four seconds into the final round. However apparently the Wolfpack won the other matches and made it into the finals. They just didn’t show us how.

The fight they showed between Rory Markham (Silverbacks) and Keith Wisniewski (Dragons) actual had a wee bit of the controversy to it. Wisniewski was ahead on points going into the third round, only Markham had landed a punch after the bell that knocked Wisniewski loopy. He could answer round three, so Rory Markham was declared the winner.

Finally, the 2006 finals…

Ben Rothwell (Silverbacks) def. Krysztof Soszynski – R1 TKO
Chris Wilson (Wolfpack) def. Rory Markham – R1 TKO
Bart Palaszewski (Silverbacks) def. Ryan Schultz – R3 KO

The Silverbacks are your 2007 champions.

Schultz was the guy that was advertised all night for being carried out on a stretcher. Instead of letting us know his condition (since this was filmed last year) the just rolled credits.

And that, in a nutshell, was MMA’s big network television debut. Thanks God for two hours of UFC Unleashed tonight on Spike TV.