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Shark Fights 17: Rosholt vs. Horwich and Ricco's Return

The only live mixed martial arts on TV this week takes place on HDNet Friday at 10 PM ET, with Shark Fights 17 providing us with a few hours of entertainment in what is otherwise just about the slowest time of the year for MMA fans.

Shark Fights is a Texas-based promotion that has a reputation for putting together good cards, drawing impressive crowds by regional standards and generally giving the fans their money's worth. Friday night's card takes place at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas, with Jake Rosholt vs. Matt Horwich in the main event and Ricco Rodriguez vs. Doug Williams in the co-main event.

We'll take a look at three reasons why you should watch below.

1. Ricco Rodriguez is returning to relevance. Rodriguez is a former UFC heavyweight champion who struggled with drug problems and wandered in the MMA wilderness for years, but he's currently riding an 11-fight winning streak, and at age 33 he likely has a few more good years left in him.

Granted, Rodriguez has achieved that 11-fight winning streak while taking on lesser opposition in smaller promotions, and "lesser opposition in smaller promotions" doesn't even begin to describe his Shark Fights bout with Doug Williams. Rodriguez was originally supposed to face Karl Knothe, but when Knothe weighed in at 257 pounds, Rodriguez refused to fight him, saying he had agreed to the bout only at a 230-pound catchweight, even though the fight had been advertised as a heavyweight fight.

So now Rodriguez is instead fighting Williams, a guy who has lost nine of his last 10 bouts -- including previously getting choked out by Rodriguez in 62 seconds. This is a complete squash match, and it's disappointing that Shark Fights couldn't give the fans something better.

Still, the mere fact that Rodriguez is keeping himself together enough that he's fighting regularly and winning when he fights is a sign that he's becoming a relevant fighter in the heavyweight division again. Next month he's supposed to take on Seth Petruzelli in a Bellator bout that will be a much better indicator of whether he's ready to return to the big time.

2. Jake Rosholt is proving he's better than his UFC stint would have you believe. Rosholt was a three-time NCAA wrestling champion at Oklahoma State, and when he arrived in the UFC in 2009, he was one of the most heralded prospects in MMA. Unfortunately, Rosholt went just 1-2 in three UFC fights, with both losses by first-round submission, and the UFC handed him his walking papers.

But Rosholt may be better than he looked inside the Octagon. For starters, his one win was against Chris Leben, and that's a win that looks more impressive in hindsight, as Leben has gone 4-1 since. And Rosholt has dominated everyone he's faced in seven fights since leaving the UFC -- everyone, that is, except Horwich, who beat Rosholt by third-round TKO on an Xtreme Fight Night card in November. The Rosholt-Horwich rematch should make for a very good main event.

3. You never know what you're going to get with Matt Horwich. Horwich, who was also cut by the UFC in 2009, is one of the most interesting characters in the sport, as a recent Inside MMA profile revealed. He's been all over the map in the last couple of years: He's maddeningly inconsistent, and his record since leaving the UFC is just 3-5, but he's been extremely impressive when he's on, including beating Rosholt as well as becoming the only person ever to submit Thales Leites.

The Horwich-Rosholt rematch is just the kind of fight that a smaller promotion should put together. If nothing else, it's some decent MMA in the midst of a five-week stretch without the UFC.

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