A little over two years ago, Chris Horodecki was one of the most promising young lightweight mixed martial arts fighters in the world. He had carved out a spot for himself as an elite fighter in the International Fight League producing an eleven-fight undefeated streak that began right after his 18th birthday and continued through to his 20th birthday. His "babyface" looks and solid striking skills gave off the perception that Horodecki was a contradiction to what fighters were supposed to look like, but like many fighters before him -- Horodecki broke through those perceptions and produced winning performances.
Unfortunately for Chris Horodecki, he has never been able to win me over as a fan. While my significant other believes it's because his bout with the IFL's Ryan Schultz resembled a "domestic child abuse dispute" due to Horodecki's youthful appearance and the two-minute defenseless beatdown that Schultz gave him at the IFL Grand Prix Finals in December of 2007, I'd go against the grain of her casual fan status and point at his questionable decision to remain at lightweight and attack with relatively the same telegraphed offensive tactics as the source of his problems.
Sure, I'm no expert on weight cutting nor do I embody Chris Horodecki and know how his body responds to weight cutting, but sitting at 5'8" without the body type that a fellow lightweight fighter like Ben Henderson (5'8") shows makes me believe there is a cut to 145 or even 135 in his future.
Horodecki has never been an explosive puncher either. While he has the ability to land damaging strikes and catch opponents off guard with his kicks, nearly every exchange is telegraphed over and over again over the length of a fight. There is some variance in his strikes, but opponents can almost always rely on a flurry being followed by a kick. It becomes a rather futile effort when your opponent is a better kickboxer, taller, and has a lengthy reach advantage.
Let's forget about the rookie mistake that Horodecki made on Saturday night and look at the action before the head kick that left us scratching our heads. This was Njokuani's fight to lose unless Horodecki came out with a better offensive gameplan than his own standard kickboxing combinations. I held out some hope that two years of training might make this a battle, but my bettor's wallet laid the house on Njokuani for a reason. Horodecki hasn't evolved.
What's the solution? Stylistically, we must see some sort of progression in Horodecki's striking game. The same one-two combinations followed by head kicks that landed unchecked in the IFL aren't going to be your bread and butter in a promotion like the WEC with fighters constantly making their way into the promotion. They have historically worked in gaining Horodecki decision victories against low to mid-level competition, but they don't exactly inspire confidence in anyone as a finishing technique.
Secondly, Horodecki must drop in weight and become a bit more dedicated to gaining some power. He has the ability to land strikes, but he doesn't have the overall power to put opponents away. If he could actually cut down to bantamweight, he'd be one of the bigger fighters in the division as opposed to being one of the smaller in the lightweight division. That might be a little wishful, but I think his body could do it as it looked a little puffy against Njokuani.
Njokuani is one of the future contenders in the lightweight division, so it may be a bit unfair to assess Horodecki in only his first fight in the WEC. But I didn't expect to see the same tired combinations and same overall style to his game in this fight, a fight that is over two years after we watched the same style fights in the IFL. Fighters can't walk through divisions of talent using the same style, and hopefully Horodecki will go back to the drawing board and become a bit more dynamic in what he can do. If not, I'm sure the MFC will be ready for him.