by Ken Pishna (Photos by April Pishna)
(From top to bottom: John Cronk vs. Matt Horwich, Shannon Ritch vs. Alex Schoenauer, and Vern Baca vs. Noah Thomas)
Randy Couture and Matt Lindland have taken the SportFight show on the road. Landing in Denver, Colorado, all the fighters weighed in and the fights are on. Check out the SportFight weigh-in photos in the photo gallery.
The main event features Team Quest fighter Matt Horwich against Denver’s resident bad boy John “The Annihilator” Cronk. This is actually a solid main event that really plays to the classic grappler vs. striker match-up. Horwich has brought an adept blend of jiujitsu to Team Quest and combined with the world-class training in Oregon has parlayed his skills to an 11-4-1 record. Whether you love him or hate him, Cronk always gets the crowd worked up. Know for his fiery personality, Cronk also brings fireworks to the ring with a strong stand-up style with knockout power.
One of the competitors from the ultra-successful first season of The Ultimate Fighter; Alex Schoenauer steps into the ring against longtime veteran Shannon “The Cannon” Ritch. He was originally slated to face K-1 veteran Andre Walker and then Jeff Ford, another K-1 vet, the third time was a charm for Schoenauer as he finally landed an opponent when Ritch agreed to the fight. Schoenauer said that the change in opponents hasn’t really affected him, “Unlike in the past, when I’d train for a fighter’s specific style, this time I trained everything, so I’m ready to go against whoever they put in there.”
Highlighting the undercard are two fights that could end up stealing the show. Noah Thomas and Vern Baca are two fighters that don’t have a ton of MMA experience, but both are extremely popular in the Denver area and have strong backgrounds in wrestling; they’ve been on a collision course. Thomas has used his wrestling to set up a strong ground and pound attack, as has Baca. The deciding factor here could be if the fight goes to the ground and who lands on top.
The other potential show stopper is Team Quest’s Ian Loveland and North Platte, Nebraska’s Joe Doherty. Again, neither fighter has an abundance of experience, but they both come out strong and leave everything in the ring.
The rest of the undercard is rounded out with some of the best fighters in the Rocky Mountain Region. This is the fifth MMA show in Denver in six weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see how well it is attended, but if the card is any indicator, Randy Couture and Matt Lindland’s Denver debut could lead them back to the region in the future.
Main Event 185
Matt Horwich 184 vs. John Cronk 181.5
Co-Main Event 205
Alex Schoenauer 204.5 vs. Shannon Ritch 191
Noah Thomas 155 vs. Vern Baca 154
Ian “The Barn Owl” Loveland 145 vs. Joe Doherty 142
Chilo Gonzales 183 vs. Ed Banks 189
Lindsey Durlacher 132.5 vs. Richard Hess 134
Joey Welch 153 vs. Kyle Gibson 155
Luke Holdorf vs. Vellore Caballero 153