After nearly three years away from MMA, former IFL lightweight champion Ryan “The Lion” Schultz is ready to make his return to the cage.
As Schultz told MMAWeekly.com recently, it’s not that he’s been shying away from the sport; it’s just been finding the opportunity to fight again between changes in his life and the politics of MMA that’s been the problem.
“I’ve been trying to get a fight for a long time,” he said. “It’s been hard on the smaller shows trying to find somebody who wants to fight. I’d picked up a new manager and he had trouble getting me fights.
“I’ve just been getting things settled down. I moved from Oregon to Colorado and set up my own gym with (UFC fighter) Ed Herman and Reed O’Malley. I took time to get that all worked out, and now it’s time to go.”
Schultz feels the time off hasn’t so much changed his game as it has reinvigorated him.
“I’m excited to fight again,” he said. “I think there for a while I was just going through the motions. I had blood pressure issues up in Japan (when I last fought).
“I just feel excited, and I’m going to leave it all out there and am going to make a run at it.”
While his actual game may not have changed, one thing he has decided to do differently is switch to featherweight for his fight at Saturday’s Ring of Fire 42 in Broomfield, Colo.
“I haven’t made 145 (pounds) yet,” he joked. “I still spar and train with bigger guys, so I don’t really know how I’m going to feel at 145 until I get out there, I guess.
“I’m not opposed to fighting at 155 – or any weight class – to be honest with you. I can make the weight, so I want to see how I feel down there and what the guys are like down at that weight class.”
For his return to fighting, Schultz will face Angelo Duarte, though he doesn’t seem to care who it is he’ll be in the cage with because it doesn’t change what’s going to happen once the bell rings.
“I haven’t really thought too much about him, to be honest,” he said. “I’m just going to go out there and do what I do, like I always have and put him away – that’s the end of it.
“I’ve been in this game for a long time. I have 35 pro fights. I’m a vet and I feel like I’m not going to over-think it. I’m going to do what I do and let things happen the way they happen. I can only control what I do, and I’m going to put the fight where I want it.”
Schultz intends to carry the same mentality into 2012 that he has for his fight on Saturday night: The path ahead is what he intends to make of it.
“My goal is to get to the top of the heap,” he said. “I’m going to make a run on this. I’m not going to give a timeframe on how long it is. I’m 34, but I feel as good as I ever have. I think I’ve got a lot left in me.
“I think people are going to notice once I start fighting at 145. I think when people see me; they’re going to see a threat because my game is well-rounded. I can out-wrestle anybody at 145 and put them on their back if I want to – there’s no question in my mind.”
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