Ryan Schultz: Sherdog.com
New gym, new weight class and a fight back home in the United
Those are the changes Ryan
Schultz, the former lightweight champion of the now-defunct
International Fight League, looks to make after more than a year
away from the cage. Schultz last competed at Sengoku “Tenth Battle”
in September 2009, suffering a first-round knockout loss to
Yokota. It was the Nebraska native’s third straight loss since
signing a five-fight contract with the Japanese promotion.
During the layoff, Schultz left Oregon and Team Quest, his home
since 2003, to open a training center with UFC veteran Ed Herman in
Fort Collins, Colo.
“I’ve known Ed since 2003 when I moved to Oregon,” he said. “We
were kind of talking out there about starting a gym there in that
area. I’m from Nebraska originally, but I had a house in Colorado
[just outside of Fort Collins]. I decided to move back to this area
to be close to my home. I’ve got kids and stuff -- grandparents and
all that. It just seemed like the right time to do it. And Ed
decided that he was looking for a change, so we decided to start
our own thing and go from there.”
The gym, called Trials MMA and Fitness, held its official grand
opening on Oct. 1 and has accumulated approximately 30 students in
its first month of business.
“Whatever level you’re at, we pretty much have a class,” Schultz
said. “We have a pro team, and we have an amateur team, as well.
We’re looking to get involved with it all.”
Schultz, who owns wins over Aaron Riley,
Horodecki and Roger
Huerta in his MMA career, is also ready to end his hiatus from
the cage -- albeit in a new division.
“I’m definitely thinking about coming down to 145,” he said. “I
think I can make it. I can compete with the best guys in the world
at that weight class. We’ve been talking to [WEC matchmaker] Sean
Shelby a little bit. The WEC, now they’re merging with the UFC
obviously, [and] hopefully they have some slots where they can put
me in there. I might have to go win a few fights first so they can
look at me again.”
Schultz has two fights remaining on his existing Sengoku deal but
hopes to get a chance to fight on his home soil for the first time
since 2008, when he defeated Deividas
Taurosevicius in what would be his final 155-pound title
defense for the IFL.
“I just haven’t had really good luck over there in Japan,” he said.
“I want to fight in front of the U.S. crowd again and just get back
on my feet to see where I’m at with things.”
Schultz remains at a loss when it comes to explaining his stint
with Sengoku, which started with what looked to be a decent shot to
win the promotion’s lightweight tournament. Looking back on a
three-fight stretch that resulted in three devastating losses,
Schultz questions his thought process.
“I was a huge favorite. I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I
made a mistake. I got knocked out in my first fight [against
Hirota]; I hadn’t lost in almost two and a half years, and I
went back over there and fought 20 days later against [Jorge]
Masvidal. I probably shouldn’t have fought. In the States, they
wouldn’t have let me fight. I got knocked out. You’re at least
getting a 30-day suspension.”
Schultz admits he made a mistake.
“I think I should have taken more of a break just because I went
from world champion ... I knew I was a heavy favorite to win the
tournament, and then I got knocked out,” he said. “I don’t think I
dealt with the loss real well ... I’m coaching guys -- I wouldn’t
allow one of my fighters to get knocked out and fight 20 days
Schultz has healed physically and mentally since then.
“I’m training pretty hard right now, so I’m in good shape,” he
said. “I haven’t been getting dinged or anything. I haven’t fought
in a while, so I’m pretty itchy to get back in there.”