by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy of Sportfight)
On September 9th one of the most anticipated battles of 155lb prospects will take place at the IFL’s Oregon debut when Cam Ward of the Seattle Tiger Sharks locks horns with the Portland Wolfpack’s Ryan Schultz.
Ward, who trains out of Oregon Jiu-Jitsu, is a last minute replacement for Coach Maurice Smith’s Tiger Sharks, but it’s an opportunity he knew was coming and is excited for.
“Actually got referred to me by a reporter, letting me know that Maurice was looking for a 155lb fighter for his team,” said Cam of how he ended up in the IFL. “I called Maurice immediately and ended going up to Seattle and tried out. Later Maurice called me and asked if I was willing to fill the slot. In the back of my mind I knew the slot was going to come to me so I had been preparing for it.”
The fight between Ward and Schultz was supposed to happen in early August for the Sportfight promotion but had to be cancelled due to a freak accident.
“Schultz and I were scheduled to fight on August 5th and I had a work-related injury,” explained Cam. “I got burnt, I had a second degree burn on my back about half the size of your palm and it wasn’t going to heal in time for the fight.”
“[Had I fought] it could have ripped open and bled and cost me the fight so it just wasn’t worth it,” added Ward. “It’s fine now. It took about four and a half weeks to heal completely, but yeah it’s absolutely fine now.”
While the venue and promotion for the fight may have changed, according to Cam, the strategy is the same as it would have been before.
“Nothing’s changed and I’m sure it’s the same with Schultz,” commented Ward. “I’m sure he’s probably thinking along the lines of he’s preparing to defend the submission and I don’t think he’s excited about taking it to the ground, whereas that’s obviously what I’m going to do. That’s where my strengths lay and that’s no secret by any means.”
For Cam the opportunity to be on a nationally televised event gives him even more motivation to succeed.
“To be perfectly honestly with you, I love it, I thrive in that kind of environment,” exclaimed Ward. “The more people, the more pressure, and the better I seem to do. I’m one of those guys that when I’m in the gym I train fairly well. I’m not the best guy in the room, but come fight night; somebody else comes to the show [laughs]. I plan on that guy coming out and doing my job.”
Cam continued, “It’s a dream come true. I’ve been working literally 10 years for this opportunity. Coming from a small club, I could have gone to any of the big clubs at any time, but I stuck with my instructor Scott McQuarry and it’s come as a well deserved break. I worked my butt off to get into this position, throw in a little bit of luck and here I am. I’m excited about this opportunity. Especially to fight Schultz, a win over him will gain me respect and people will look at me and wonder if I’m one of the top guys out there.”
Ward closed out the conversation by reiterating how exciting he anticipates this fight being and how fans shouldn’t miss it live or on FSN.
“You guys are going to get a great fight with Schultz and me,” concluded Cam. “We’re both real fast-paced, Schultz is very strong and I’m very submission-oriented. Schultz will be looking for a KO and I’ll be looking for a submission. It’s going to be an absolute battle. With only a four-minute round you’re going to be seeing us really, really push the pace because we’ll both be in great shape, but in the end my hand will be raised. I’m shooting for the fight of the night; I need that bonus money [laughs].”