Twice the glory for Ciesnolevicz

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Back in the early days of mixed martial arts, even before it was labeled as such, many of the sport's pioneers would take fights with such regularity that it's hard to even compile an accurate record of all their action.

In particular, the Midwest fight circuit had quite a bit of activity. Fighters that would go on to become cornerstones of MMA such as Pat Miletich, Jens Pulver, Jeremy Horn, Shonie Carter and others could be found in bars, fighting for far less money than it costs to get into a modern Ultimate Fighting Championship event.

And, while it's still not uncommon for fighters to take a number of match-ups on smaller shows in close proximity to others, it's rare to see a top-level contracted fighter take multiple fights in the same month, let alone the same weekend. But that's exactly what International Fight League light-heavyweight Mike Ciesnolevicz did this past weekend.

First Mike stepped into the Courage Fighting Championships at light-heavyweight and defeated Andrew Force to claim that promotion's 205-pound title, then the next night he stepped up to heavyweight in a win over Matt Anderson in the main event of the Extreme Challenge's 100th show.

"I just thought it was cool guys did that," said Ciesnolevicz of his inspiration to take fights in back-to-back days. "I'd always hear stories about how Jeremy Horn would go fight, get a hotdog and Mountain Dew and drive to the next show and fight."

More specifically, requests from his manager and a good friend happened to coincide with each other, creating the opportunity for him to go the old school route.

"Monte (Cox) had his hundredth (Extreme Challenge) show coming up and he wanted me to headline it," he explained. "I'm friends with Jason Reinhart, and he asked me if I was free to headline his (Courage Fighting Championships) show, too.

"I looked at the dates and I thought, 'You know what? I could probably pull this off.' Pat (Miletich) is like, 'You should go for it. It will be good experience; you're in shape, so I think you can pull it off if you fight smart.'"

According to Ciesnolevicz, in winning his first fight his performance may have suffered more due to his game plan than his preparations.

"Even though the fight was very short, I didn't fight my best fight," he admitted. "I was pretty passive. I didn't go for the kill because in my head I was thinking, 'Don't break your hand or don't get caught.'

"I didn't want to get into a brawl or that kind of fight, because I didn't want to risk getting injured before the next night. I didn't fight my fight, I was too passive, didn't go forward enough and wasn't aggressive enough."

In the second fight, Ciesnolevicz wasn't as concerned about injury, but the emotional ride of fighting and getting back up for another bout wore on him.

"It was hard getting my emotions and adrenaline up, then coming back down because you're relieved, happy and you want to celebrate, but can't because you have a fight the next night," he said.

"I had to get myself up again, get myself into the zone and get ready to go again. Going through all those emotions before a fight was probably the most draining part. Both my fights were relatively short, but the emotional drain and stress is what got to me a little bit."

All in all, when questioned whether or not he'd do it again, Ciesnolevicz responded, "It depends, if the right fight came up I would definitely do it again."

What allowed Ciesnolevicz to take both these fights in the first place was the current situation with the IFL.

As it stands the promotion has put its operations on hold, making it so many of their fighters, even contracted talent, can seek other temporary employment until the company is ready to once again start operations.

Ciesnolevicz cleared up his own contract status by saying, "As far as the IFL (is concerned), I'm still an IFL fighter and am under contract.

"They're allowing me to fight in other shows just to say busy, but it has to be approved. I had planned to fight on the (now cancelled) Aug. 15 New Jersey show, so if they have another show I definitely plan to be on it."

Until then though, Ciesnolevicz plans on staying busy, ready for any opportunity that comes his way.

"It's going to be touch and go, wait and see what happens," he stated. "We're kind of back where I was before the IFL; fighting on a show here and there, just getting experience and try to build up things that are valuable down the line.

"I'm looking to stay busy, and I really want to fight in July and August. I just want to get as much ring time as I can. I love the sport, love to compete, and want to just keep getting in there. It was always a dream I had as a kid to be an MMA fighter and I don't want to pass up any opportunities."