by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
The past few months have been rough for Ryan “The Lion” Schultz of the IFL’s Portland Wolfpack.
In November Ryan lost via TKO to Chris Horodecki and then fallowed that up with a KO loss to Bart Palaszewski in the IFL World Team Tournament Finals in December.
And then there was the recent debut of My Network TV’s “IFL Battleground” show in which MMA fans across America were appalled by the presentation’s pro wrestling tactics in which Schultz’s condition after his loss to Palaszewski became an abhorrent selling point.
But through it all Ryan digresses, and after serving a mandatory medical suspension, which caused him to miss the Wolfpack’s 2007 season debut this past February, Schultz is ready to return this Friday night at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut for his team’s important clash with Renzo Gracie’s New York Pitbulls.
“It was hard to watch the team perform with out me,” said Ryan of missing the team’s first battle of the year. “I had a lot of confidence in Ian [Loveland], and I still do, I’m just glad Ian got the chance to get out there and fight on a bigger show.”
Schultz continued, “But at the same time, I definitely wanted to be out there. I was ready to fight, my medicals were clean and everything, it’s just commissions took a while to overturn it.”
Now clear to fight, Ryan will be stepping into Friday’s IFL event against a late replacement in Joe Sampieri, who will be replacing normal Pitbulls’ lightweight fighter Eric Owings.
According to Schultz, it doesn’t matter who he fights, he just wants to get back into action.
“Re-arranging opponents, that’s fine with me,” commented Ryan. “I basically take care of what I need to do and if I do what I’m training to do, I’m not so much worried about who it is that they put in against me.”
Schultz had come off a big win over Cam Ward in his IFL debut last September, before losing his last two in a row. As Ryan puts it, it’s time to rededicate himself and get back on track.
“I think I just need to perform again, quit worrying about the little stuff, and just get out there and fight,” exclaimed Schultz. “That’s what I do best, when I just fight and not worry about the whole technical gameplan part of it, and just go out and rough somebody up real quick and try to end it as fast as I can.”
“I think I need to bring back some of my rawness to this game, and just kind of get back out there and show them who’s boss. If I do that, I’ll be pretty successful,” added Ryan.
With Schultz returning to the line-up, the Wolfpack have another veteran presence to offset some shifts made, which includes the addition of Gerald Harris to middleweight and Matt Horwich moving up to light-heavyweight, filling in for injured Aaron Stark.
“As far as the team goes, we’re strong now,” said Ryan of this Wolfpack line-up. “Aaron is hurt right now; he separated his shoulder, so that’s why we did the weight switch with Horwich. Gerald Harris is stepping up in our middleweight position.”
Schultz continued, “[Mike] Dolce through his last performance, as everybody knows is a heavy hitter, he hits hard, and people have got to watch out for that. I feel good about it, I think we’re strong. Everybody Matt [Lindland] put in place can fight.”
Speaking of Wolfpack Head Coach Matt Lindland, he will be missing the event due his BodogFight PPV heavyweight match against Fedor Emelianenko in Russia on Saturday.
Even though Lindland will not be there, Ryan feels the team will still be able to hold it together with the coaches that will be there with them.
“It’s okay with us, I mean, we’re ready to go,” explained Schultz. “Chael [Sonnen] been with us for a long time and [Dennis] Hallman; he’s been coming up quite a bit, helping us out. Kevin Jackson will be there with us too, and he’s just a great competitor as well all around.”
“I think we’ll be fine, and we’re supportive of what Matt and what he’s got to do, so I think it’s a positive thing all around,” further commend Ryan.
And when it comes to Lindland’s chances against Fedor, Schultz has the utmost confidence in his coach.
“That’s a great fight, and I really do think Matt’s going to win the fight,” exclaimed Ryan. “I think he’s going to shock the world.”
Schultz added, “He really, really believes in himself and there’s nothing he doesn’t think he can’t accomplish. Matt’s just got a lot of confidence in himself and he believes 110% in what he’s got to do.”
Even though he’s interested in what’s happening half a world away, Ryan is focused on the task at hand, defeating Joe Sampieri and the NY Pitbulls, and then moving on to the 2007 World Team Tournament bracket later this year.
“I’d like to tell the fans to come out and watch it,” said Schultz. “If you can make it to Connecticut that’d be great, come watch it live, that’s the best.”
“But if not, keep watching the TV [show] and keep supporting us. The Wolfpack I believe is the best team in the IFL, for sure,” concluded Ryan.