by Mick Hammond
It’s not often when a late replacement fighter has a bigger name than the person they were replacing, but it does happen from time to time.Case in point is this upcoming weekend’s Sportfight 13 in Denver, Colorado where Alex Schoenauer of The Ultimate Fighter 1 fame will now be longtime MMA staple Shannon “The Cannon” Ritch instead of his originally scheduled opponent.

Ritch, a veteran of nearly 100 fights, replaces local favorite Andre Walker in the bout, but according to Schoenauer when he spoke to MMA Weekly recently, the change in opponent doesn’t always mean a change in strategy.

“I’m not doing anything differently,” said Alex. “I know Shannon’s got quite a bit of experience, he’s definitely not new to the fight game. He knows what he’s doing in the ring, he’s got good submissions, but even though he doesn’t have a very good record I’m not going to take him lightly.”

Schoenauer continued, “I plan to stand with him. I’m a lot taller and bigger and he’s coming into the fight light. I want to trade with him and get comfortable and take him to the ground and ground ‘n pound him or work for a submission. I want to use my stand up to feel him out and use it to set up my ground game, which was the same gameplan I had before.”

While the change in opponent might not mean a change in strategy, it does help the overall show as it brings in another name fighter for Sportfight’s first trip to Colorado.

“The other guys (I was supposed to fight) were K-1 guys that had somewhat of a name there (in Colorado), Shannon’s fought in a lot of shows so he’s known quite a bit and that will be good for ticket sales,” explained Schoenauer. “For a last minute fight I think good for what we had to work with for the show. He’s a scrappy dude and has some crazy stand up, so it should be a good show for the fans.”

The fight will still take place at the originally scheduled 205lbs, the weight that until his past two fights, both losses at 185lbs; Alex had been at for most of his career. According to Schoenauer, the move back up in weight has had a positive effect on him and he plans to remain there for the time being.

“I’m looking forward to standing in there at 205lbs. I’m more comfortable there and it allows me to get in there and perform well. I’m just stronger and more aggressive at 205lbs. I don’t have to diet now, for me at 185lbs I had to watch what I ate and I didn’t have enough energy at 185lbs. It’s just a better weight class for me right now. Maybe down the road in 5-10 more fights I may go back down to 185lbs but for now I’m more comfortable at 205lbs.”

As for his future, Schoenauer also admits there’s a change of philosophy from that which he had after his experience on TUF 1, and it’s a change he hopes will reap dividends and put him back where he wants to be with his career. “Coming off the show I had two fights that didn’t go like I wanted them to. I was trying to pick my fights and events and be too careful. Now I’m fighting as much as I can on whatever shows I can and get more experience. I’m fighting on the 20th in Fort Lauderdale, and again on November 9th in Alaska. As long as I’m healthy I’ll do it.”

Alex concluded, “I definitely want to go back to the UFC or Pride/K-1, but before I get there I want to get a lot of fights so when I get the call I’m ready. That’s definitely the goal, but I’m going to take things one at a time, maybe get a belt in King of the Cage or Sportfight and defend it a couple of times and get that experience. To the fans I want to say show up and support the sport. Hopefully it’s going to be a good show with a lot of good fighters and I’m going to do my best and make up for my last couple of fights. Lastly I want to give a shoutout to Tapout and the LVCC.”