It’s been a long weekend in our sport, and I’m pretty exhausted. After the IFL Grand Prix and UFC 79, it’s enough to make you wonder how we got to this point from the days of tiny shows in civic center arenas that went straight to VHS tapes. How far we’ve come. Anyway, it’s Monday morning now, so back to work…
I keep reading on the internet how surprised people are that Ryan Schultz beat Chris Horodecki for the IFL lightweight title. Apparently, no one even gave Schultz a chance, which is odd when you consider he’s the only man to beat Roger Huerta, so he must know a thing or two about this MMA stuff. What’s really strange to me though are the people who seem to think Schultz’s victory spells doom for the IFL.
I mean, really? First, people complain that the IFL is propping Horodecki up and protecting him as the league’s golden boy. Then, when he loses his first fight to a tough guy like Schultz, they think the IFL is finished? I just don’t see it. Maybe I’m a little biased, but I think the more diversity and unpredictability the IFL has, the better. Who wants to see the same guy win every time? Now the division is wide open, and it should be interesting to see Schultz’s first title defense. I know for a fact that he and John Gunderson have wanted to fight each other for a very long time, and that could be an explosive one.
On the whole, the five championship fights on the IFL card were all great ones, and all ended decisively. What really surprised me was not so much Schultz winning, but Benji Radach losing.
Matt Horwich has got to be a truly baffling fighter to go up against. His style is so awkward and it doesn’t seem to bother him at all to get hit in the face over and over again. Radach was doing a great job in the first round, circling away and landing solid shots. But Horwich just never stops. He may be a little on the weird side, but that really only makes him more difficult to figure out in the ring. I can’t wait to see Horwich and Tim Kennedy go at it, which has got to happen hopefully sooner rather than later.
I didn’t get to see any of the UFC fights until returning home yesterday afternoon, but they, too, were worth the wait. Georges St. Pierre proved what a dominant fighter he can be with a submission victory over Matt Hughes, and Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva treated fans to a truly memorable battle.
After the GSP-Hughes fight, I have to wonder what Matt Serra is thinking right now. He shocked St. Pierre the first time, but does he believe he can do it again? St. Pierre looked to me like one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world on Saturday night. When he comes in ready and focused, I don’t think there’s a 170-pounder in the world who stands a chance, Serra included.
The other question at hand is, what becomes of Hughes now? He’s said before that he only has a few fights left in him, and if he can’t beat GSP there’s little hope for him in the welterweight title picture, so what’s he waiting around for? The answer may be a grudge match with Serra after his GSP fight. That’s the only thing that makes sense for Hughes, other than retirement.
As for Liddell, the win over Silva is a tremendous career boost and will stand as a hallmark moment in his already Hall of Fame career, but I don’t think it qualifies him for an instant title shot. I’d like to see him against somebody like Forrest Griffin first, but that probably won’t happen now that Griffin and “Rampage” Jackson are coaching the reality show. More and more, TUF seems like an albatross for MMA, and for exactly that reason. It puts the title picture on hold in whatever division the coaches come from. So what does Liddell do now?
Well, how about a fight with “Shogun” Rua? He got beat pretty soundly by Griffin, but it might make for a good contender match. Then again, the UFC will probably just hold Liddell out of action until after Jackson-Griffin, rather than take a chance on him losing and getting tossed back in the 205-pound ranks. Oh well.
As for Silva, he fought well enough to prove that he can still make some waves in the UFC. He’ll probably never wear another major MMA title, but a rematch between he and “Rampage” still has some heat, though that’s a long wait for “The Axe Murderer.” Wait a minute, what’s Keith Jardine up to these days? Hey, I’m just saying.