LAS VEGAS, Feb. 29 -- It was a back-and-forth battle from the
start, but challenger Ryan
McGivern (Pictures) eventually trumped Matt Horwich (Pictures) to take the Oregonian's
International Fight League middleweight title.
Horwich's awkward striking style gave McGivern problems early in
their main event fight Friday night. The Miletich fighter, caught
in a deep omoplata, found himself in peril late in the second.
Yet with the heart and determination of a champion, McGivern fended
off Horwich's attacks and walked away with a surprising unanimous
Horwich entered the bout as the prohibitive favorite and after the
first two rounds it was obvious that the belt holder was going to
have his hands full until the very end.
McGivern countered Horwich's kicks and off-balance punches with
sneaky jabs and short right uppercuts. Still, even after his face
grew lumpy from the constant strikes, Horwich was determined to
hold onto his title.
The Team Quest 185-pounder snatched up rounds two and three on the
Sherdog.com scorecards, but he didn't look like he was winning the
fight. McGivern opened up his stand-up arsenal much more in the
fourth and in the process stopped the champion in his tracks twice
with vicious right uppercuts.
Another right uppercut staggered Horwich toward the ropes moments
before the bell tolled ending the period.
The fight was up for grabs in the fifth, and it was just a matter
of who wanted the belt more: champion or challenger. It was
McGivern, who kept the fight on the feet and landed stinging
punches from the outside.
Sensing his title was slipping away, Horwich turned up the pace in
the final minute. But McGivern seemed the fresher of the two and
wrapped up Horwich along the ropes. Once the clinch was released,
McGivern punctuated his title-winning effort with a stinging
left-right combination and ended the fight by delivering one final
buzzsaw of an uppercut.
The three ringside judges all favored McGivern -- 49-46 and 48-47
"I owe all that to my teammates for jumping on me, for pushing me,
getting on me when I'm tired, making sure I don't stop, making sure
I don't quit," McGivern said of his cardio and determination. "So
this is for everybody."
Aside from the cardio advantage, it was McGivern's superior
striking that sealed the deal. McGivern knew his chances were at a
maximum if the fight was kept standing and that's exactly what he
"Pat (Miletich) was drilling that into me for this whole fight," he
said. "Moving angles. Keep moving your feet. Setting up my punches.
So I just tried to stay true to that."
McGivern certainly stayed true to his game plan and it allowed him
to score a mild upset, a victory that capped off an unspectacular
night of mixed martial arts action in front of 3,931 fans at the
IFL heavyweight champion Roy
Nelson (Pictures) needed less than a round to
Nelson crashed two monstrous right hands onto the head of the Team
Quest fighter in a neutral corner to end the fight. The stoppage
came almost out of nowhere as the fight was at a virtual standstill
to that point.
The end came when Nelson slammed Scherner onto the canvas and
unfurled two massive right hands. Once the Brazilian's body went
limp, referee Steve Mazzagatti immediately stepped in.
The official time of the stoppage came at 3:20 of the opening
"I was looking for the submission," Nelson said afterward. "I'm a
takedown artist and I'm always trying to work for the tap. … I
worked a lot on my base and learning when it's OK to strike and
when it's not. If you don't have a good base, you can fall off and
lose the submission or the striking [opportunity]."