IFL Middleweight champion Matt Horwich is set to defend his title at the "New Blood New Battles" IFL event February 29th at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas Nevada. The bible-quoting Horwich won the middleweight belt last December at the IFL's World Grand Prix event when he knocked out Benji Radach in the second round.
"I was way stoked to get the victory," gushed Horwich, "and thankful to get a knockout against one of the top strikers in the IFL."
Horwich celebrated his victory with friends in his hometown of Seattle.
"I've been telling them for the last seven or eight years that I'm going to bring them a middleweight belt," Matt chuckles, "and was blessed enough to bring them one, and wear it around on New Years."
The free-spirited Horwich (21-9-1) will make his first title defense at the Orleans Arena against Ryan McGivern (11-5) and is not taking it lightly.
"I'm trying to stay as hungry as I was to win the belt, to defend it," Matt says. "Ryan McGivern is an awesome fighter and a really dangerous fight."
McGivern is coming off a knockout victory of his own against Fabio Leopoldo during the IFL 2007 Championship last September, when the New York Pitbulls spoiled the three-peat aspirations of the Quad Cities Silverbacks. The IFL has since abandoned the league-chosen teams in favor of spotlighting team training camps. They also adopted a more traditional structure of crowning individual champions by weight class, which were determined at the World Grad Prix tournament last December.
Horwich is looking to redeem an earlier loss to McGivern in the IFL 2006 Championship when the Silverbacks defeated the Wolfpack to win their second straight championship. With the championship already decided by the third fight, Horwich stepped in to face McGivern but lost by unanimous decision in a slow, plodding fight. Though 'revenge' is a really strong word for the deeply religious Horwich, he looks forward to fighting McGivern and is honored to compete against him a second time.
"Everyone needs a good challenge in life," Matt opines. "Nothing worth having comes without some sort of a fight."
To prepare for the fight, Matt has trained with Mario Sperry and the Couture gang. He's concentrating on cardio, strength-training and stand-up with Chris Riley. He's improving his Jiu-Jitsu by training with Eddie Bravo.
"I've got a lot of really good middleweights to work with," Matt says. "My wrestling and takedown defense is always improving, learning from my favorite coach in the world, Matt Lindland."
Matt feels fighting for Team Quest gives him a lot of resources to work with. Team Quest fighters visit other schools, such as BJ Penn's, to learn fresh techniques.
"The great thing about our team, is that we encourage each other to be open-minded and learn other things to bring back to the team," Matt adds. "They even brought in Bas Rutten to give a seminar."
But win or lose, a day after the fight, Horwich is getting married and spending a week in Las Vegas on honeymoon, hopefully as Mr. & Mrs. Middleweight Champ.