by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
There is no denying that IFL middleweight champion Matt “Suave” Horwich is one of the most unique individuals in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Soft-spoken, polite and deeply religious, he is a big change of pace from the usual brash, cocky and arrogant fighters that often draw as much attention to themselves out of the ring as they do in the ring.
Yet, with his kind nature, Horwich is one of the most determined middleweight fighters in the world. Single-minded sometimes in his pursuit of victory, there is rarely a fight that he hasn’t walked directly into the mouth of the lion and come out on the winning end.
After years of hard work and dedication, he was rewarded last year as he upset the hot-streaking Benji Radach for the International Fight League 185-pound title at December’s IFL Grand Prix Finals, and now begins his new journey as a champion.
“Well, I’m feeling really good,” responded Horwich when asked of his new role as titleholder. “I was blessed enough to win a middleweight belt.
“I’ve been telling my street kid friends for seven years that I’m going to bring them a middleweight belt some day, and I was blessed enough to bring them one last year.”
En route to his title win, Horwich had won three of four fights, looking ever more so the total fighter he had always wanted to become.
“I think I was blessed enough to improve pretty much every fight,” he stated. “I got a kimura against Brent Beauparlant, and my stand-up was pretty blessed in that fight. (Against) Brian Foster I was really blessed in that fight and landed some pretty good knees; threw some good kick combos. The one with Benji Radach was a blessing to get a knockout against one of the best strikers in my weight class and the IFL.
“The knockout against (Kazuhiro) Hamanaka was a blessing, because it’s great when people think you’re just a grappler and you’re blessed enough to get a knockout, because then they have to worry about your stand-up too.”
Horwich is quick to credit his teammates and training partners for his growth from submission fighter to complete fighter over the recent years.
“I have a great group of guys to work with and continue to improve with each fight,” he admitted. “I have the best coach on the planet, Matt Lindland, and a lot of really good middleweights, Ed Herman, Chael Sonnen, just a great team.”
For his first title defense, Horwich is matched up with a fighter that defeated him in 2006, Ryan McGivern, who was a late replacement for the injured Tim Kennedy.
He says, however, it doesn’t matter who the opposition is, he knew he would be given a challenge.
“I’ve known it was going to be a really tough fight,” said Horwich. “Since I won the belt, I’ve known whoever was the No. 1 contender to fight for the belt was going to be a really dangerous fight, someone who worked really hard to be the No. 1 contender.
“It’s always funny when people ask me if the next guy I’m fighting is any good. I make a joke and say, ‘No, they just gave him a title shot because he sucks.’ (Laughs) I knew Tim Kennedy or Ryan McGivern was going to be a tough fight. But I trained really hard and did everything that I know of to be as well prepared as possible, and that’s a really good feeling to have.”
When asked what he thought the fight was going to be like the second time around, he explained that he feels the match-up will be fluid and it’s going to be difficult to predict where things will go this time around.
“It’s hard to say, because there are a lot of thinks that can happen, and that’s the exciting thing about our sport,” said Horwich. “There’re so many different facets and so many different things that can happen out there.
“I don’t like going in thinking too much about one certain game plan, because I like to have a flexible game plan. Every fight I want to continue to improve my stand-up, combos, correct reactions, slips, punches, firing back, takedowns, takedown defense, submissions, and guard passes – all aspects of our sport.”
Now that he has achieved his longtime goal of being a champion, he is looking to expand upon his life outside the ring, be a role model and have a positive impact on the world around him.
“My goal now that I’m the champion is to improve every fight and grow in faith and do as many good things as possible and influence people positively,” stated Horwich. “Make some wise investments with my money, hopefully make down payments on houses and get into real estate.
“I would like to open a Team Quest school of my own, close enough to where I come in and get my training with Matt Lindland, and have an organic food restaurant in the school, so the business would be doing something positive by getting people into the benefits of eating healthy.”
Truly Matt Horwich is one of a kind, inside and outside the ring, but first and foremost, he has a title defense to attend to this Friday night at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and a loss to avenge to Ryan McGivern.
“I would like to thank all the fans and all my sponsors, Clinch Fight Gear, Serious Pimp and my friend’s electric company, who is a new sponsor for me,” closed out Horwich.
“Above all I’d like to thank God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Awesome things are happening now and are going to continue to happen, and we’re going to rock and roll in the coming years.”