(image credit: Matt Horwich Facebook)
Matt Horwich is one of the quirkier characters in MMA, an industry littered with quirky characters. However, it would be easy to forget the skills that the man known as ‘Suave’ displayed in his 56-fight MMA career.
Among Horwich’s accolades are a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, the inaugural IFL middleweight title, as well as tenures in major promotions Bellator, KSW and the UFC. Among his 30-25-1 record is a slew of UFC veterans, including Thales Leites (twice), Terry Martin, Jake Rosholt (twice), Jason MacDonald, Jason Lambert, Brian Ebersole, Mike Pyle, Krzysztof Soszynski, Glover Teixeira and Josh Burkman, just to name a handful.
Born in Seattle, Washington, Horwich showed little interest in school and it wasn’t until the age of 17 that the rapidly growing art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu captured his imagination. Working odd jobs with friends, he managed to save up enough money to start learning the art with none other than MMA legend, Royce Gracie.
Becoming ‘The Fighting Hippy’
Captivated by the art, Horwich eventually made the move to Team Quest in order to pursue MMA, making a successful debut in 2003 at a local show in Washington. Quickly earning the nickname ‘The Fighting Hippy’, due to his unusual interests, he amassed 12 fights in just over a year, leading to a debut in WEC. While his WEC bow was unsuccessful, he continued on his merry way, competing in no less than 20 MMA bouts in his first two years of competition.
In 2006, upstart promotion IFL came calling, and Horwich called the promotion home until it’s dissolution in 2008, including becoming their inaugural middleweight champion with a knockout win over Benji Radach.
The Big Time
Then came the call to the big leagues, as Horwich made his UFC debut at UFC 90 in October 2008, a losing effort against Dan Miller. Returning to the Octagon in 2009, the already 37-fight veteran came up short against Brazilian star Ricardo Almeida, and was released from the UFC.
Sandwiched between two appearances in Bellator was a string of local bouts, including arguably the highlight of Horwich’s career, a rear-naked choke win over third degree black belt and former UFC title challenger, Thales Leites.
In 2011, Horwich decided to try his hand overseas, competing regularly in Poland, as well as Russia, South Korea and Brazil. By 2017, the then 39-year-old began to see the writing on the wall, and although he never really made the decision to retire, the phone calls began to dry up.
“I would fight again if they offer me enough money and prep time, but no-one is exactly beating down my door with great offers,” Horwich said.
Horwich still stays sharp when he can, despite having no real intention of fighting again.
“When I finish work seasons, I get on the mat in Laguna Hills and my boy Joey Guel’s gym in Washington.”
Reflecting on his journey in MMA, Horwich says he simply enjoyed the journey.
“I just wanted to learn and be a super MMA fighter, and looked for training from the best,” he said. “Travelled a lot of amazing places as well.”
Horwich learned his trade from a ‘who’s who’ of MMA. He lists a long line of mentors at home and abroad.
“Shout out to everyone who taught me MMA: Eddie Bravo, Team Quest, Matt Lindland, Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, Ryan Schultz and the boys, American Top Team, BJ Penn and Ed Herman, great to see him kicking ass still.”
The list goes on…
“Chris Reilly, Conor Huen and the boys at Legends MMA, and my boy Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller.
“Kings Master Rafael, Fabricio Werdum, Orlando, Kory, Shogun Rua, Wanderlei (Silva), Lyoto Machida and all the boys there.”
Where Is He Now?
Now based in Laguna Beach, California, Horwich works in the seafood industry, travelling to Alaska in the summers to continue his new profession. The now 42-year-old sees his current industry as a pathway to bigger things.
“Now I’m trying to put my eccentricity to good use and become a champion outside the ring…get some Tony Stark, John Connor level stuff going” he said, in typical fashion.
And, you’d better believe he has quite a few ideas in mind.
“I am working and saving up for higher endeavours. Trying to get a majestic science show up and going with some vertical gardens and ocean gardens, hoping to work on some exoskeletons, maybe make a magic science show with Mayhem Miller with super hero athlete training,” he said.
Alongside all of that, Horwich also looks to finally put down roots, after living life as a road warrior.
“I’m saving towards land, thinking ocean front property would be cheaper in the South with lower taxes. Also looking to meet a super hero warrior princess,” he added.
While he saves for the future, and with fighting in the rear-view mirror for now, Horwich uses his spare time to gather information and indulge his newer interests, scouring YouTube for tutorials on exoskeleton suits and vertical gardens.
“I watch videos on YouTube on how to build vertical gardens, so far I grew some lion’s mane mushrooms, which are really good for our brains and nerves. There are a bunch of weeds with more nutrition then spinach or kale, dandelion is one, I also grew some oxalis clover, garlic, I want to grow some beets,” he said “and I watch videos on the ocean gardens and science.”
Once he’s done his own research, he does plan to get some formal training in the field.
“I’m learning and enjoying the journey…it’s a work in progress,” he said. “When I finish, I want to try and find a robotics tutor and work with my new friends on drones.”
Horwich even suggested that his studies could reap some benefits for his work in the seafood industry.
“They even have fishing drones!” he added.
With close friend and fellow UFC veteran Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller in tow, Horwich hopes to make the aforementioned science show a reality.
“I am a big fan of the history of scientists and great inventors, I think it would be rad for old fighters to do a science show. Show the kids we didn’t get too old to keep learning!”
Horwich continued to speak passionately about his research, which still extends into the MMA space. He even listed his favourite information sources.
“I am a big fan of Scishow, Seeker and The Organic Chemistry Tutor and The Crash Course videos on YouTube, I learn a lot about the science of gods universe and multiverse from them, as well as the MMA fight and Jiu-Jitsu breakdowns.”
It was perhaps this thirst for knowledge that propelled Horwich to the upper echelons of the MMA world. It is clear that learning is a passion that he plans to carry into his post-fighting life.
“I’m excited about writing the next chapter in life, still learning and pushing myself. So much knowledge available these days!”