BASN Talks With Mo Smith And His Tiger Hawks Of The IFL

By Tom Donelson
Updated: April 10, 2007

MOLINE, Ia. — Former Kickboxing champion Maurice Smith is the head coach of Mixed Martial Arts team, Seattle Tiger Hawks and his job this past Saturday was to keep his young charges in the playoff race.

For those familiar with the International Fight League know that the crucial portion of the regular season is now and for Seattle, this match was crucial for a loss meant the end of their playoff hopes.

With 12 teams competing, only the top four gain entry into the final championship run. Each match matters as the tiebreaker involves not just won and losses but the number of points gathered by each team.

The more individual matches a team wins, the better its chances of making the playoffs as win and losses

Smith observed in the post match interview, “Most of these martial artists are excellent in their ground techniques, but 98 percent have problems with their striking skills.”

As Allan Goes, the Tiger Shark Brazilian heavyweight stated, “Maurice made me a better fighter by improving my striking skills.”

Goes was a prime example of this. His biggest strength was his jiu-jitsu background and his ground attack skills. Against Homer Moore, his striking skills neutralized Moore wrestling skills and in the second round, a sharp kick to the leg ended the fight as Moore could no longer continue.

Goes’ victory came as result of his ability to nail Moore with hands and kicks as oppose to submission.

Bristol Marunde had the quickest knock out in the first round, again with effective right hand that sent Chris Albandia to the ground for the count.

The Tiger Sharks defeated the Chicago Red Bears 4-1 and it could have been easily 5-0. Brad Blackburn engaged in a tight close bout with Mark Miller only to lose by a close decision.

Brad appeared to be the more effective over the first two rounds as his combination appeared more potent but Miller came back to win the third and final rounds.

Blackburn admitted that he thought he had the fight won and acknowledge, “I shouldn’t have let the judges decide the fight.” The judges gave Miller the decision by the narrowest of margins.

The Tiger Sharks are now tied with fifth place with the defending champions Quad City Silverbacks.

In the second event, the Reno Lions took on the hometown defending champion Silverbacks. Quad City Silver backs easily won as they took four of the five matches against the expansion Reno Lions.

Reno bright spot came when Vernon White came back from a serious back injuries to salvage one win for the Lions.

White injured his back two weeks before the matches and admitted, “I hurt it in the bout when (Quad City) Sam Hoger squeezed my back in an attempted take down. “ White added.

“I tried to end the fight quickly for he did that one more time, I may not have been able to continue.” After the fight, White jawed with the home town fans.

After the match, he noted, “It was fun to talk with the fans.” White not only entertained in the ring but outside as well.

The White-Hoger was close throughout and in the second round, White and Hoger engaged in some tough ground work before White forced a submission.

The Lions could have won two other bouts as Heavyweight Roy Nelson and John Gunderson lost two split decisions. Both decisions were controversial and as Gunderson noted, “This was hometown judging. It is a lesson to be learned.”

Coach Ken Shamrock refused to blame the judges in the postgame press conference but simply stated, “The judges’ job are tough.”

The Gunderson-Palazewksi bout was close and at the end of the bout, it was Gunderson, who held the advantages on the ground. But this was not enough to sway the judges in his favor. When asked about his performance, Palazewski admitted, “I stunk.”

He stated that he won but it was a meek admission. The Mixed Martial Arts, like boxing, is filled with close and very controversial decisions. Controversy is no more a stranger to the Mixed Martial Arts than to boxing.

Nelson’s loss may have been the most galling since Quad City Ben Rothwell lost a point on deduction in the opening rounds and as Ken Shamrock noticed, “The crowd yelled when Ben nailed Roy with one shot but were quiet when Roy nailed Big Ben with four shots.”

He indicated that the crowd may have influenced the decision and added, “The crowd aided Rothwell.”

These International Fight League bouts saw some tremendous fights with athletes performing at top levels of their sports fighting for their teammates.

What impressed me most was Smith’s coaching job in turning young martial artists into more complete fighters and the courage of Vernon White, who overcame serious back injury to prevail in a tough match.

In an evening filled with heroes, White showed what a champion’s heart is made of.