by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
When the Portland Wolfpack were first introduced into the second season of the IFL, one fighter stood out amongst the others as the veteran presence on the team, Matt “Suave” Horwich.
A long-time underground fan favorite, Horwich had long been on the cusp of making his major MMA debut, but for one reason or another he was denied that opportunity. But thanks to the IFL, Matt is now going from underground sensation to a legitimately recognized talent.
This past Friday, February 16th, Horwich added to his already impressive resume as he helped his team defeat the Toronto Dragons 3-2 in both squads’ 2007 IFL season opener in Atlanta, Georgia. He beat tough wrestler Brent Beauparlant by Kimura just 30 seconds into Round 2 of their fight.
“I feel great about my fight,” said Matt of his win over Beauparlant. “My main focus was going in with faith, courage, and being bold. Having good stand-up, movement on the ground, a sense of urgency and I did that. That’s the state of mind I want to go in with every fight.”
Prior to the fight, Brent had told MMAWeekly that he hoped to stand and trade with Horwich, thus avoiding Matt’s sizable submission skills, but in the end Horwich was able to dominate the standing aspect of the fight, which lead the fight to the ground for the finish.
“I’ve worked really hard on my stand-up, kickboxing and been working on giving people more to worry about than just my submissions,” explained Matt. “I think I did that in this fight. I landed a good head kick, body kick, I saw he was hurt, threw some good hands and I think he changed his mind about standing up with me.”
Horwich continued, “My stand-up feels great right now. I’ve been studying a lot of [Mirko] Cro Cop videos. This is what I do every day: train, read the bible, study fights and video highlights. [Fighters like] Cro Cop, Duane Ludwig, Ernesto Hoost, Marcelo Garcia, BJ Penn, and working on getting more well-rounded.”
Even though he’s been fighting for years, Matt is still relatively young and is always continuing to grow as a fighter.
Horwich reiterated the fact that he knows if he’s going to continue to ascend the MMA ranks he’s going to have to continue to emulate his heroes and become the most complete fighter possible.
“One of the most exciting things about our sport is that there are so many different paths, different ways to win or lose,” commented Matt. “It could be by kickboxing, a submission, wrestling, so I’ve been working on all facets of my game. Just working on getting more well-rounded like BJ Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Lindland, a lot of the awesome fighters I look up to.”
With his win over Beauparlant, Horwich helped secure a 3-2 victory over the Carlos Newton-coached Dragons. It’s a win that Matt is ecstatic to get to open up the Wolfpack’s 2007 IFL season.
“I thought the team did great,” exclaimed Horwich. “We got the win and I’m stoked about that. ‘Judo’ John [Krohn] did great, that was a big dude he fought, and [Mike] Dolce did great, getting the finish in 20 seconds.”
As for the remainder of the IFL year, Matt is very confident that his team has what it takes to get back to the IFL finals and beyond.
“I feel great about it,” said Horwich of the Wolfpack’s chances this season. “We’ve all been blessed with a lot of awesome victories. We did awesome last season and went to the finals and I think we can do even better in this season, [and] win the rings.”
“The faith of a mustard seed can move mountains and I know awesome things are going to happen. I have an awesome group of people to train with here at Quest, and awesome things are going to happen, I’m excited,” further commented Matt.
Horwich backs up his enthusiasm for the upcoming season with his actions, by immediately getting ready for the Wolfpack’s next team battle, against Renzo Gracie’s NY Pitbulls in April.
“The next fights are going to be awesome,” exalted Matt. “The Gracie team is a solid team and I’m looking forward to being readier than ever to fight them. I was back in the gym Sunday after the fight to get ready for it; it’s going to be an awesome night.”
Horwich closed out by saying thanks to those who continue to help him in his career and by letting the fans into what his mind’s eye sees for him in his fight in April.
“I’d like to thank Matt Lindland, of course, he’s the best coach out there,” said Matt. “Thanks to all the coaches and teammates at Quest, and all the staff at the IFL, they do a great job. I thank all the fans and God. Awesome things are going to happen; we’re going to Rock & Roll.”
Horwich concluded, “I’m just visualizing a positive result [for April’s fight]. Visualizing the win and my hands raised in victory [because] all things are possible to those who believe.”