New York Pitbulls win IFL championship

The New
York Pitbulls completed an unbeaten season, topping the two-time defending
champion Quad Cities Silverbacks, 3-2, to claim their first International Fight
League World Championship, before 3,470 at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard
Rock in

Hollywood,
Fla. Delson Heleno, Deividas
Taurosevicius and Andre Gusmao recorded wins for the second-seeded Pitbulls,
coached by Renzo Gracie, en route to the title, with Gusmao’s dramatic
first-round knockout over Mike Ciesnolevicz at light heavyweight in the decisive
fifth match breaking a 2-2 tie.

The
Pitbulls’ Heleno (
Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil) began things with a welterweight victory
over Jake Ellenberger (

Omaha,

Neb.), who was filling in for
injured Rory Markham for the Silverbacks. In an entertaining battle,
Heleno and Ellenberger traded blows and submission attempts before Heleno got
the last word, catching his Silverbacks opponent in an armbar to give the New
Yorkers a 1-0 lead. Pitbulls lightweight Taurosevicius (
New
York) scored a surprise second-round submission victory, also by
armbar, over Bart Palaszewski (

Wonder
Lake,
Ill.) to double
his team’s advantage to 2-0. Heavyweights Ben Rothwell (
Milwaukee,

Wis.) of the Silverbacks and former UFC
champion Ricco Rodriguez (

Staten
Island,
N.Y.) of the
Pitbulls slugged it out for three rounds in another exciting battle, with
Rothwell winning the unanimous decision to shave the Silverbacks’ deficit to
2-1. Middleweight Ryan McGivern (Bettendorf, Iowa) evened things at two
wins apiece with a convincing second-round TKO over Fabio Leopoldo (Sao Paulo, Brazil), setting the stage for the winner-take-all light heavyweight
bout. Gusmao (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) came out swinging from the bell, landing
a series of nearly uncontested blows against Mike Ciesnolevicz (Williamstown, Pa.) before the referee stopped the bout less than a minute into the first round.

The win
was also the culmination of an amazing turnaround for the Pitbulls, who were
winless in 2006 but won all five of their bouts, including three regular season
wins, in 2007. The win also avenged a September 2006 defeat at the hands
of the Silverbacks in

Moline, Ill., in the only other meeting
between the teams.

The win is
also the first professional championship for any New York-based team since the
New York Yankees won the 2000 Major League Baseball World Series.

The IFL
World Championship can be seen on Fox Sports Net (Sunday, 5 p.m. in most
markets, check local listings) and on MyNetworkTV (Monday, 8 p.m. ET/PT; 7 p.m.
CT/MT).

In the
preliminary bouts which preceded the Finals, light heavyweight Jamal Patterson
(Hoboken, N.J) of the Pitbulls tapped out Chris
Baten (Tampa, Fla.)
in the first round, as did Rolles Gracie (New York), a Jiu-Jitsu champion, also making
his MMA debut with a win over Sam Holloway. The welterweight Brad
Blackburn (Olympia, Wash.)
and Travis Cox (Naples, Fla.)
was ruled a “no-contest” when
Blackburn
unintentionally struck Cox’s head with his knee, and Cox was unable to
continue. Popular IFL standout Ryan Schultz (North Platte, Neb.)
of the Portland Wolfpack gained a decision against American Top Team’s Aaron
Riley (Port St. Lucie, Fla.)
in an entertaining lightweight bout in the final prelim.

International
Fight League World Championship Finals

Seminole
Hard Rock, September 20, 2007

No. 2
Pitbulls def. No. 4 Silverbacks, 3-2

170 lb.: Delson
Heleno, Pitbulls, def. Jake Ellenberger, Silverbacks, via submission (armbar)
3:45, 2nd

155 lb.: Deividas
Taurosevicius, Pitbulls, def. Bart Palaszewski, Silverbacks, via submission
(armbar), 1:30, 2nd

265 lb.: Ben
Rothwell, Silverbacks, def. Ricco Rodriguez, Pitbulls, via decision
(unanimous), after three rounds

185 lb.: Ryan
McGivern, Silverbacks, def. Fabio Leopoldo, Pitbulls, via TKO, 1:35, 2nd

205 lb: Andre
Gusmao, Pitbulls, def. Mike Ciesnolevicz, Silverbacks, via knockout, 0:53, 1st

Preliminary
Bouts

205 lbs: Jamal
Patterson (
Hoboken,
N.J.)
def. Chris Baten (

Tampa,
Fla.) via submission (choke), 0:56, 1st

265 lb.: Rolles
Gracie (

New York)
vs. Sam Holloway via submission (rear naked choke), 1:49, 1st

170 lb.:
Travis Cox (
Naples,
Fla.)
no contest vs. Brad Blackburn (

Olympia,

Wash.) (unintentional knee to
head of downed opponent), 2:32, 1st

155 lb.: Ryan
Schultz (

North Platte,
Neb.) def. Aaron Riley (

Port St.
Lucie,
Fla.) via decision (unanimous), after 3
rounds