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 decision win.

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 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 twice.

"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 did.

"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 Orleans Arena.

IFL heavyweight champion Roy Nelson (Pictures) needed less than a round to dispatch Fabiano Scherner (Pictures).

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 round.

"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]."

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