by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
LAS VEGAS – Ryan McGivern had already learned the hard way that Matt Horwich was tough to put away. He had already beaten the deeply religious middleweight at the International Fight League Championships two years ago in a hard-fought decision.

So it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Horwich took his best shots and kept coming forward. Early on in their encounter, the Team Quest fighter’s kicking prowess showed itself on McGivern’s flank. As McGivern came in to box, he often caught a sharp kick to his midsection before he could unload with a flurry. Horwich even tagged him with a few lead leg high kicks, raising a nasty mouse under each of McGivern’s eyes.

But when the Miletich-trained middleweight did key off on those kicks, he won the day with striking angles, rocking Horwich on several occasions with uppercuts and overhand rights.

“My corner was telling me how to adjust to it,” McGivern said. “It was a lot of leg kicks, so I had to do something, but it took me a while to wake up to that.”

Horwich spent a lot of time and energy taking the fight away from his deficiencies, and nearly had McGivern with an oma plata shoulder lock when the fight hit the mat in the second. McGivern felt and heard some crackles and pops in his shoulder, but was held aloft by one sound.

“If I hadn’t heard the clack for the ten seconds, when he started rolling it up, I was like ‘man, that bell’s gotta go off,'” McGivern said. “Had it gone any longer, I think I would’ve been in a lot of trouble.”

He made it to the bell, and from there had his way with Horwich. Horwich kept the pressure on, but his lumbering approach gave McGivern plenty of time to set up combinations and control the fight when it hit the ground. In the end, the judges awarded him a unanimous decision, making him the new IFL middleweight champion.

“I’m fired up,” McGivern said afterwards. “I’ve been going win-lose, win-lose, now I finally got a win-win, so it’s alright.”

Heavyweight champ Roy Nelson had little problem keeping his belt. After scoring a body-lock takedown, Nelson stood over challenger Fabiano Scherner and delivered two right hands that put Scherner out cold late in the first round.

Lightweight champ Ryan Schultz and challenger John Gunderson seemed to let their respect for each other derail any chance of sustained action. Neither fighter truly let their hands go, preferring to trade takedowns and jockey for position on the canvas. For the most part, Schultz controlled on the ground, but did little damage from top position. Even he acknowledged that the unanimous decision was bittersweet.

“It was almost like you’re in a bad dream,” Schultz said. “My confidence just wasn’t there, but obviously, I had a gut check and did what I had to do to win the fight.”

Jake Ellenberger outwrestled and out struck Pat Healy for an impressive unanimous decision.

Alexandre Ferreira made short work of Lew Polley, choking the Xtreme Couture fighter out on his feet with a standing guillotine.

Josh Haynes fought a reluctant three rounds against jiu-jitsu stylist Leopoldo Serao, who but scooted his way through the fight much to the audience’s chagrin. On the feet, Haynes was the clear victor, giving him the decision victory.

IFL Full Results:

Ryan McGivern def. Matt Horwich by Unanimous Decision, R5
Roy Nelson def. Fabiano Scherner by TKO (Strikes) at 3:20, R1
Ryan Schultz def. John Gunderson by Unanimous Decision, R5
Jake Ellenberger vs. Pat Healy by Unanimous Decision, R3
Alexandre Ferreira def. Lew Polley by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 0:20, R1
Josh Haynes def. Leopoldo Serao by Unanimous Decision, R3
Rafael Dias def. Santino Defranco by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:03, R1
Ian Loveland def. Dennis Davis by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 0:58, R1