Connections Land Horwich UFC Gig

By Chris Yucus Aug 18, 2008
The pending demise of the International Fight League meant it was time for one-time middleweight champion Matt Horwich (Pictures) to call in a few favors.

“I found out that they weren’t going to use me on their next show, and then I heard that the next show might not even be happening,” Horwich says. “So I talked to Eddie Bravo and had him talk to [UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva for me. Also, my coach and manager, Matt Lindland (Pictures), talked to him for me.”

Horwich’s intercessors brought results, and after securing his release from the sinking IFL, the Team Quest fighter landed a deal with the UFC. He will make his promotional debut at UFC 90 “Silva vs. Cote” on Oct. 25, when he meets Ricardo Almeida (Pictures) at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.

The eccentric 30-year-old admits his best memories from the IFL come from hanging out with its staff and, of course, his reign as the organization’s first titleholder at 185 pounds. Horwich knocked out the favored Benji Radach (Pictures) in the middleweight final of the IFL World Grand Prix in December to capture the crown.

“When I was fortunate enough to get the knockout against Benji Radach and get the middleweight belt, that was a beautiful night and a wonderful memory because I was really the underdog in that fight,” Horwich says.

Even though he will no longer compete inside the team-based IFL system, Horwich does not believe the move to the UFC will change the dynamics surrounding how he trains under Lindland at Team Quest in Oregon.

“We’ve always got that camaraderie and team atmosphere, even though we’re all fighting in different organizations,” he says. “We’re all like family and want to see each other do well.”

Horwich (23-10-1) -- who holds notable wins over Xtreme Couture’s Mike Pyle (Pictures) and UFC veterans Josh Burkman (Pictures), Jason MacDonald (Pictures) and Vernon White (Pictures) -- looks forward to bringing his game to the UFC stage.

“I’m stoked about the opportunity,” he says, “and I’m doing everything I know of to be as well prepared as I can to make the most out of it.”

Almeida (9-3), a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie (Pictures), will provide a tough match up for Horwich, who has garnered 19 of his 23 wins via submission.

“Ricardo Almeida is a great fighter and great person,” Horwich says. “It’s an honor to compete against him.”

For inspiration in fighting a world-class, Gracie-trained submission fighter like Almeida, Horwich looks to a recent performance from current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (Pictures).

“Ricardo Almeida has excellent submissions,” Horwich says, “but Georges St. Pierre was able to take a better submission guy like Matt Serra (Pictures) down and win the fight by staying out of submissions, having good cardio, having good guard passes and pushing the pace.”

Horwich claims his game plan will revolve around adapting as the match progresses and staying in the flow of the fight. He has not competed since he earned a unanimous decision against Joey Guel (Pictures) at an IFL show in May.

“I don’t like to get too stuck in thinking a fight is going to go a certain way because I like to have a flexible game plan for whatever happens out there,” Horwich says. “If I’m fortunate enough to land some good punches or rock in him in the stand-up, I’ll want to keep doing that. If things get too dangerous in the stand-up, then I might want to get the takedown and try to ground-and-pound, push the pace and tire him out. People are a lot less dangerous when they’re tired.”

Being in the UFC was a goal Horwich has held since he was a teen-ager.

“I went back and forth when I was a kid from wanting to be a martial artist like Royce Gracie (Pictures) or a musician,” he says. “Then I heard about the UFC making a comeback and Randy Couture (Pictures) having a school in Oregon. Matt Lindland was just starting back then, and I saw a couple of his fights and got signed up with Team Quest.”

Finally in the UFC after five years of fighting, Horwich, a devout Christian, remains focused on doing all the right things leading up to his showdown with Almeida. He constantly trains all aspects of his game and hones his spirituality daily in order to set up the best UFC debut possible.

“Every positive choice adds up when it’s time to compete,” Horwich says.
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