Horodecki the IFL's best hope

Horodecki the IFL's best hope
By Kevin Iole, Yahoo Sports
December 20, 2007

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports
The International Fight League's existence depends in large part upon its ability to keep its broadcast partner, FOX Sports Net, happy.

In its amended quarterly report filed with the Security and Exchange Commission on Dec. 6, the IFL noted, "Any disruption of our relationship with the Fox entities may adversely affect our business prospects, operating results, cash flow and ability to achieve profitability."

I'm hardly a financial expert, but here's a suggestion to IFL president Jay Larkin and league commissioner Kurt Otto: Make sure FOX gets plenty of Chris Horodecki fights to broadcast. If that doesn't keep FOX happy, it has no business in the fight game.

That's because in the fight game, the baby-faced Horodecki is as much a certainty as a traffic jam every night at 6 in Los Angeles.

His bout with Bart Palaszewski was touted as a 2007 Fight of the Year candidate, even though it occurred on Feb. 2 and there were 11 months still to go.

About four months later, that back-and-forth bout was largely forgotten because Horodecki outdid himself, edging Shad Lierley in a jaw-dropping match that deserves strong consideration for the 2007 Mixed Martial Arts Fight of the Year.

Unless, of course, Horodecki does it again in the IFL's World Grand Prix on Dec. 29 in Uncasville, Conn., when he meets Ryan Schultz for the lightweight title.

Horodecki (11-0) clearly is the best 155-pounder in the IFL and, along with heavyweight Ben Rothwell, who is presently a free agent, has been one of the league's two premier performers. A Canadian newspaper referred to him as the "Sidney Crosby of fighting," which is about as high praise as one can get from a Canadian.

The IFL has struggled to gain widespread acceptance and is in the midst of a revamping for 2008. Horodecki is its primary chip in a bid to raise its profile.

Horodecki, who turned 20 on Sept. 24, looks like he needs a permission slip from his parents to be out after dark, but beneath that cherubic exterior is as vicious a fighter as there is in MMA.

He found out that he was fighting Schultz, whom he stopped in the second round on Nov. 2, 2006, about a week ago. Schultz is the fourth opponent he's had to prepare for, following Wagnney Fabiano, Lierley and John Gunderson.

The IFL created a featherweight division and opted to have Fabiano fight L.C. Davis for its 145-pound belt. It then put Lierley in against Horodecki, which at the time seemed a good move given the spectacular outcome of their June 1 bout.

But Lierley broke a toe and had to pull out. The IFL announced John Gunderson as Lierley's replacement, but before Horodecki could seriously prepare for Gunderson, he, too, withdrew because of an injury and was replaced by Schultz.

The constant switching, particularly so close to the fight, would throw off the preparations of even some of the game's most grizzled veterans. Horodecki, though, responded with a shrug.

He's just going to go out and do what he does, which is to cause mayhem from start to finish.

"It doesn't really matter anyway," Horodecki said. "It's not in my hands and I can't do anything about it. Things happen for a reason."

Horodecki noted that because Schultz has taken the fight on such short notice, he has nothing to lose. That should allow Schultz to fight free of the pressure he might feel were he working on a 10-week training camp.

Horodecki, who called Schultz "a super tough guy," is the kind of guy who would be just as happy fighting in the back alley just for the sake of proving who's the better man than he would be in a sold-out arena in front of a nationally televised audience.

"It was getting hectic, especially the past few days when (my opponents) switched the most," Horodecki said. "I'm just glad there is a set opponent now. We have a date. We have an opponent. Let's dance."

In addition to the Horodecki-Schultz fight and the Fabiano-Davis bout, there are three other title fights on the national card. Jay Hieron will face Delson Heleno for the welterweight title. Benji Radach will meet Matt Horwich for the middleweight championship and Antoine Jaoude will meet Roy Nelson for the heavyweight crown.

The card will be shown live in the U.S. on HDNet and in Canada on Fox Sports Canada.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Thursday, Dec 20, 2007 8:55 pm, EST

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