In the last days of the International Fight League, many of the promotion's fighters have been given opportunities elsewhere on large shows. One fighter, however, who has been conspicuously absent from such large opportunities, is light-heavyweight contender Mike Ciesnolevicz.
After losing his first two bouts with the promotion, Ciesnolevicz rebounded, winning five straight, becoming a big part of the Quad Cities Silverbacks team that took two straight team championships.
Eager to prove himself as an individual fighter, Ciesnolevicz looked to be a favorite heading into the promotion's 205-pound Grand Prix, but due to a deviated septum was forced to sit on the sidelines and recover from injury.
Roughly two years from his IFL debut, Ciesnolevicz, one of the last monthly salaried fighters, has received his full release and is eager to make his impact on a big show after recent successes on the local scale.
"I was actually checking my email a few days ago and I got an email release from the IFL; and yesterday I got a letter saying, 'Thanks for being with the IFL, we're exercising our right to release you, so you're free to fight with any organization out there,'" said Ciesnolevicz of how he received his release from the promotion.
"It didn't really bother me the way it happened. I was waiting for the day to come."
Even with how his time with the company ended, Ciesnolevicz has nothing but good things to say about his time with the IFL.
"I look back at the IFL now, and I realize it was really important for me in my progression from the smaller shows to the big shows," he commented. "The IFL was the perfect middle ground.
"I had tough fights; it made me realize what I needed to change in my game, and was a real eye-opener. I really advanced who I am through the IFL, and I'm thankful for that opportunity. It was a great experience."
Prior to his release, Ciesnolevicz had kept busy fighting on smaller shows, including an old school two fights in two days; and by cornering his Miletich Fighting System teammates.
According to Ciesnolevicz, while he's enjoyed his recent activities, he's anxious to get in the ring and prove himself on a larger scale, like some of his teammates such as Rory Markham have done lately.
"I'm kind of getting the reputation at our gym as the new Jeremy Horn, like as the corner man guy," he commented. "I'm just going to all the fights, and now I think I'm ready for my shot.
"I figure, 16-3 (with one no-contest) now, I should be getting a three-fight deal somewhere, some big opportunities."
Ciesnolevicz feels that his performances in the IFL speak for themselves, even his two losses in the promotion.
"The only two guys I lost to in the IFL were Reese Andy and Andre Gussamo, and they're both UFC veterans now, so its not like I lost a fight I shouldn't have," he pointed out. "The guys I lost to are on the same level as me, and now they're fighting in the big show."
"I love the idea of fighting somebody with a name, getting out there and show that I belong. I'm ready to get in there, do my thing and show that I can compete with those guys."
Where he ultimately ends up is of no consequence to Ciesnolevicz, as long as he gets a chance to showcase his skills against the best competition possible.
"I don't know if I really have a preference where I fight, I just want an opportunity to fight on a world class level or PPV-type level. The only way to know if I'm ready for that level or not is to put me in there with someone," he stated.
"There's not a fight at 205 that I'll turn down if they offer it."
At only 28 years of age, there's a lot of fighting left ahead for Ciesnolevicz, and should any promotion give him the chance to show that he's one of the top up and coming light-heavyweight fighters, he intends not to disappoint.
"I hope people are looking forward to seeing me fight, I'm ready to go out there and put on a show; and I'll fight anybody," closed out Ciesnolevicz.