The morning after he wagered his hopes on the Indian Casino Roulette Wheel of Fate — and lost — Chris Horodecki sat silently in the center of the Octogon, drinking from a gallon of water and trying to avoid the glances of the patrons around him, some who recognized him as the formerly undefeated IFL lightweight star, some who were just wondering what in hell happened to that boy’s eye? The Octogon, in this case, was the name of the restaurant connected to the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa in Groton, CT, where most of the fighters slept after competing in the World Grand Prix at the Mohegan Sun Arena, a much flashier joint 20 minutes away. The restaurant’s name was more than a little ironic. On a night when most fight fans were focused on UFC 79’s marquee matchups, and most other sports fans were glued to the Pats/Giants NFL simulcast, the IFL’s hungry, scrappy fighters were doing their best to carve out their own place in the MMA universe. And even in their own budget-friendly, off-the-strip hotel, they couldn’t escape the ubiquity of the Eight-Sided-Shape.
Not to say that the Mystic Marriott wasn’t welcoming. There were a couple of signs in the lobby plugging the event. Unfortunately, they were a bit outdated:
Shad Lierley, of course, was Horodecki’s second scheduled opponent for the championship match-up, after Waggney Fabiano dropped to featherweight, before Lierley was injured and replaced by John Gunderson, and before Gunderson himself was injured and replaced by Ryan Schultz, who nobody was giving a chance to win the fight. I imagine Horodecki walking past the sign on the way to breakfast the morning after and cursing those motherfuckers who couldn’t stay healthy. Because only a true underdog like Schultz could have come away with the kind of fluke victory he had last night. That’s the way life works. You cover all your bets, and the ball lands on green double-zero. Chaos rules.