by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
With the IFL’s debut season earlier this year fans were exposed to many new things. New concepts, new rules, and new faces. Alongside veteran fighters such as Dennis Hallman and Travis Wiuff, a new generation of fighters became familiar to the MMA public such as Rory Markham and Devin Cole.
Among the stars of the second season of the IFL which kicks off on September 9th in Portland, Oregon is lightweight fighter Ryan “The Lion” Schultz of Matt Lindland’s Wolfpack.
Long a standout on the Northwest fight circuit, Schultz will be taking on fellow Oregonian Cam “Mr. Smooth” Ward representing Maurice Smith’s Tiger Sharks in what could easily be the fight of the night.
MMAWeekly caught up with Ryan as he finalized preparations for his IFL debut to get his thoughts on the promotion, his opponent and the Wolfpack’s chances in the team championship tournament.
MMAWeekly: First off Ryan, how does it feel to be making your major MMA debut for the IFL?
Ryan Schultz: I’m excited. I’m really excited about the IFL. I think they are a great organization. They are all about the fighters and I think that’s great.
MMAWeekly: Being new to the promotion, what do you think of their team-based fighting concept?
Ryan Schultz: I wrestled in college and it’s kind of the same deal. You’re out there by yourself but you’re training with the same team and if you do well then that helps your team. I think the public is going to grasp onto it. Instead of fallowing just one individual they are fallowing a team and that’s what they do in other sports, they get behind the team real passionately.
MMAWeekly: This is your chance to show your skills to a nation-wide audience on FSN, what do you think about that?
Ryan Schultz: I think it’s great for my individual exposure, but I’m more so excited for the sport. I think the more people see that the athletes aren’t just some dumb thugs out there beating the crap out of each other they’ll get behind it. Once that happens who knows where the sport could go after this?
MMAWeekly: Okay let’s talk about your opponent, Cam Ward. You two were slated to fight in Sportfight at the beginning of August before he had to pull out due to injury. How do you feel about this opportunity to finally fight him?
Ryan Schultz: Cam Ward is just another guy to me. He had this chance to fight me earlier this month but got a burn on his back which…whatever…I feel I would have fought him with a burn on my back, but whatever. He’s a different fighter than I am. If he wants to get in there and do it now, it’s all the better for me. I don’t care who Maurice Smith puts in there on his team. I’m going to do what I do, go in their with my gameplan and whoever it is [in there] it doesn’t matter.
MMAWeekly: Is there any added motivation knowing that you were supposed to fight him once before and that ended up getting cancelled and you didn’t fight that night?
Ryan Schultz: I’m a little upset about that whole deal being that I caught wind of him knowing he was hurt before he actually said he was. He was three-quarters of the way healed – out of his own mouth he told me that – by the time he told us he wasn’t going to fight. Granted it’s hard to get me a fight sometimes anyway, but I feel he should of told us earlier. Yeah, I wanted to fight that night, I was training hard and was ready to go.
MMAWeekly: Speaking of being hard to get fights for, what do you think about the scheduling the IFL has set up?
Ryan Schultz: I’m excited. You’re going to have more of a set schedule and you’re going to kind of know more often when you are fighting instead of, this came up, that came up type deal. I’m excited for that, just to see the difference in what having a set schedule feels like rather than going just one fight to the next.
MMAWeekly: Let’s talk about your team, the Wolfpack, what do you feel about your team’s chances in the tournament?
Ryan Schultz: I think we’re going to win the whole thing. I think we’re strong in every way. I just think that our team unity is going to be really good. I don’t know what other teams are like, but I know Maurice Smith pulled guys from all over. He had Alvin Robinson, the guy I was supposed to fight, from out in Colorado as his 155lb fighter before the switch just happened recently. So pulling guys from all over I think that’s going to hurt his team. We train every single day, we’re on the same page. If you don’t know where you’re guys are or what they’re doing or how they’re training, I think that’s risky. I think that our team…we’re ready to go.
MMAWeekly: What about your coach Matt Lindland, I know he’s very competitive.
Ryan Schultz: Matt wants to win. Not only for the team or him, he wants to win for us. The better we do, the more money we make, the more exposure we get. He has a lot of faith in his fighters. He’s put me in against tough guys right away because he has a lot of belief in the guys he’s training. He knows what we are capable of doing if we all perform. I think he’s excited about that and that’s where you get that competitive, “Let’s get this on, let’s get this going.” [Pat] Miletich’s team [Silverbacks] won this last time and I think we can beat them.
MMAWeekly: Good stuff Ryan, is there anything you want to say as we close out the interview?
Ryan Schultz: I just want people to come down and watch the Wolfpack beat the crap out of them [the Tiger Sharks]. We’re going to do what we’re going to do and I’m going to make my fight as exciting as I can. Cam, he better be ready, that’s all I gotta say, I’m gonna smack him around, that’s my plan.