“The Polish Hammer” Chris Horodecki (16-3) is the most recent addition to a slew of fighters that have felt the wrath of Zuffa’s chopping block. It was announced Tuesday that the lightweight kickboxer, who partook in four bouts in the WEC over the last year, will in fact not be moving on to the big show with the impending WEC/UFC merger only a few days away. Sure the UFC is fickle about its roster and fighters come and go, but this cut in particular leaves a lot of MMA fans wondering how and why the 23-year-old Canadian could have been dubbed a UFC reject in the first place. Zuffa certainly is establishing its subsidiary the UFC as the mixed martial arts organization with the utmost top notch talent in the world, but many still wonder – was cutting Horodecki warranted?
The young gun and International Fight League (IFL) veteran Horodecki is no schlub. His fast-paced, pinpoint striking and heavy kicks characteristic of a true kickboxer combined with his refusal to come into a fight without giving it his all and trying to finish his opponent are notable qualities that distinguished him from the mass of MMA fighters in the eyes of fans. Horodecki’s record was 2-2 against Zuffa fighters but, after losing his WEC debut against Muay Thai kickboxer “The Assassin” Anthony Njokuani (12-4) he went on to be the only person to beat Duke Roufus protege “Danny Boy” Danny Downes (7-1) and showed off his striking finesse against Karate and Tae Kwon Do black belt “9mm” Edward Ratcliff II (7-3) in a Split Decision victory. His fight at the promotion’s finale effort, WEC 53, resulted in a loss to “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (12-4) via Cerrone’s deadly Triangle Choke in the second stanza. It was a hard fought loss for Horodecki who peppered “Cowboy” with punches and kicks with every given opportunity and displayed impressive ground skills although they didn’t prove too effective in the end.
Many considered Horodecki to be one of the best lightweights on the WEC’s roster – and one that undoubtedly would prove a formidable threat to much of the UFC’s 155lbs. division. Fighters like Terry Etim (14-3), “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (25-8-2), and Rafael Dos Anjos (15-4) would all provide entertaining bouts that Horodecki should easily win. The lower tier UFC lightweights simply don’t have the stand-up abilities to work against him for the takedowns. While it is certain that takedown artists like “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0) or hybrid shoot and strike fighters like “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1) are out of “The Polish Hammer”‘s league at this point, he is still a threat even to the top level UFC lightweights. “KenFlo” Kenny Florian (13-5) and “The Carpenter” Clay Guida (27-11) would both prove to be exciting opponents on the upper tier that Horodecki has a good chance to defeat. Both Florian and Guida have the takedown abilities to get the kickboxer down, but they both rely on their striking to get them to the clinch for those takedowns. Against a striker of Horodecki’s caliber they would have to fight hard just to avoid getting KO’d while looking for that clinch. With these great match-ups among several others, there is little argument against there being a good home for Chris Horodecki in the UFC’s lightweight division.
Horodecki is a very valuable asset from an entertainment standpoint, of that there is no doubt, and while he currently lacks the skill set necessary to be a Zuffa branded champion, he certainly has the style and abilities to sell tickets and Pay-Per-Views. It is possible that the UFC simply wants Horodecki to round out his skills against lesser competition before putting him against top level lightweights who may damage his value as an elite fighter, in which case fans will see Horodecki back in the big show in short order. It is also very possible that the UFC’s ever rising demand for its fighters to exude excellence 24/7 is costing them world class prospects who simply need a few years of UFC level stability and pay to become true challengers. This will lead to their competitors getting more viewers as fans watch Strikeforce and Bellator week in and week out to see who the next big thing is and only tuning into the UFC when the ultra dominant champions take the cage.
Horodecki kept his chin up though stating to MMAJunkie.com that “one door closes and another one opens” and that he was sure to be back with the organization soon. The only thing left to question is why Zuffa’s qualifications for staying on its promotion’s roster have been so helter-skelter lately. Granted room has to be made somewhere with all the new lightweights they are receiving with the WEC/UFC merger but, there arguably are fighters much more deserving of being released by Zuffa than great competitors such as Horodecki. The guidelines for what is acceptable in the UFC and what is not seem to change more often than Mr. Rogers changed his shoes, leaving the MMA community from fans, managers, and most especially fighters wondering who will be next?