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IFL Finals: Former UFC champ Ricco Rodriguez loses to Ben Rothwell

Ricco Rodriguez IFL finals
Former UFC champion Ricco Rodriguez -- a sudden member of the New York Pitbulls -- dropped a unanimous decision last night to Ben Rothwell of the Quad City Silverbacks during the International Fight League (IFL) 2007 Team Finals at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

"Suave" was a last-minute replacement for the injured Bryan Vetell.

Both fighters appeared to come out tentative -- the action didn't really heat up until mid-way through the third and final round. Rodriguez attempted about a dozen standing guillotines during the fight, none of which panned out. There were some nice exchanges but neither fighter ever seemed in trouble at any time.

It was good to see the champ back in action even in a losing effort. He has battled some serious personal demons and it would be nice to see him make a solid comeback. There's no doubt in my mind that the old Ricco would have crushed Rothwell.

Oh, by the way, was in attendance thanks to the good folks at the IFL to check out the heavyweight fight, as well as the event as a whole. And all in all the entire show went over well with the fans in the stands.

In fact, the attendees were into it and the turn out seemed to be solid.

Admittedly, I'm not huge supporter of the "team" approach to mixed martial arts. Fighting to me is an individual sport and when a team loses I think it takes away from the fighters who win on the losing teams.

Does that make sense? It does to me.

Regardless, last night the Pitbulls and Silverbacks were all tied up at two apiece going into the final fight (a team needs three wins to be declared the victor). The anticipation and excitement from section 203 was palpable.

It was short-lived when Andre Gusmao dropped Mike Ciesnolevicz in the opening seconds of round one with a bone crushing knee to the face, sending the Renzo Gracie-coached Pitbulls into a furor.

The team stormed the ring and hoisted Gusmao and Gracie onto their shoulders -- it was really a thrilling "team" moment.

Something I never thought I'd say prior to last night.

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