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Ryan The Lion preps for Sportfight

Estacada ultimate fighter will compete against Cam Ward on Aug. 5
by: Barbara Adams, Ultimate fighter Ryan “The Lion” Schultz holds his 16-month-old son, Kilian, at his home in Estacada.

A truly strong man knows how to be tender - how to love. When Ryan Schultz of Estacada cradles his 16-month-old son, Kilian, in his muscle-bound arms, he's a father first.

A father who fights for a living. A fighter known in the Ultimate Fighting world as Ryan 'The Lion' Schultz.

On Saturday, Aug. 5, Schultz will be one of eight fighters to hit the ring at the Portland Rose Garden during Sportfight XVII. The event is a production of Olympic silver-medalist and Ultimate Fighting champion Matt 'The Law' Lindland of Eagle Creek and five-time UFC Champion Randy 'The Natural' Couture.

Ultimate fighting is a blend of kick boxing, boxing and wrestling, said Schultz. Fighters wear 4-ounce gloves 'It's almost like being bare-handed. No headgear, no nothing. It's the most well-rounded fighting there is,' he said. 'It's the fastest growing sport in the world right now - it's huge.'

Schultz, 29, moved to Estacada in 2005 with his high school sweetheart and fiancee, Jennifer Shreck, and their child, Kilian. He graduated from North Platte High school in Nebraska in 1996, where he was a member of the school wrestling team. He went on to compete at the University of Nebraska, where he majored in criminal justice.

Matt Lindland was one of his wrestling coaches. Before Schultz graduated in 2001, Lindland won the Olympic silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in Sydney, Australia.

'Then he started doing the fight thing - he got into the Ultimate Fighting Championships,' Schultz said. 'I'd see him on TV.'

After college, Schultz worked as an apprentice plumber in Colorado. In 2003, he got a call from a friend who said he entered Schultz into a fight in North Dakota over the Internet.

'He just sprang it on me, and I said, 'All right, I'll go fight this guy.' I knocked him out in 43 seconds,' Schultz said.

'Ryan looks for that moment to engage them. He's a hard hitter,' Jennifer said.

That was Schultz's one and only amateur fight.

He started talking to Lindland, who was running Team Quest, a training gym in Gresham, along with Randy Couture and Robert Follis. Lindland wanted Schulz to come to Oregon and join his team.

With a serious girlfriend and a career in the works, the decision to leave Colorado was not easy.

'It took some thinking. I would have to turn my life around to come,' Schultz said.

By June 2003, Schultz was living with Lindland in Eagle Creek, and training and teaching mixed marshal arts and submission wrestling at Team Quest.

'I basically started fighting right away,' he said.

Meanwhile, a long-distance relationship with Jennifer became more complicated with the birth of their son.

Schultz was torn between spending time with his family and training in Oregon.

With the support of Team Quest sponsor Jay Weston of Weston Pontiac in Gresham, Schultz moved his family out to Estacada into a home on Weston's property in Estacada.

Schultz weight trains at Weston's home gym three times a week, and team practices at Team Quest five days a week, two times each day.

So far, he's fought in Japan, Hawaii, Quebec, California, Florida, Colorado, Florida and Oregon. His wrestling background and speed have helped him find success.

'This is not an easy sport,' he said. 'You have to have drive for this. Every time you go out there you have to perform.'

Schultz will be a part of a new Fox Sports fighting event called the International Fighting League (IFL). A fight will be televised approximately every six weeks.

Schultz said he might get into coaching after his fighting career, which could continue throughout his 30s.

'I just go with the flow. I'll do this until I'm tired of competing, who knows when that will be. It beats working a 9 to 5 - I get to do what I want to do, which is train, work out hard and then complete. I think it balances out pretty well,' Schultz said.

It also allows him to spend time with his son and fiancee. He and Jennifer plan to get married next spring.

Kilian enjoys spending time at Team Quest, where he gets to run around on the mats and emulate his dad at the punching bags. Jennifer spends time at the gym, too, taking classes.

'Down the road I can teach (Kilian) a healthy way of living,' Schultz said, 'working out and how to live.'

Sportfight XVII

What: Co-main event is Estacada's Ryan Schultz vs. Cam Ward. Produced by Randy Couture and Eagle Creek's Matt 'The Law' Lindland.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5.

Where: Rose Quarter, One Center Court, Portland.

Tickets: www.RoseQuarter.com or 1-877-789-7673.