by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Earlier this year the IFL debuted with much fanfare and delivered to MMA something the sport had never seen before, team based competition.
After two live shows culminating in three successful episodes chronicling the original four teams’ chase to the inaugural IFL Championship on Fox Sports, the promotion is set to return this September with shows in Iowa and Oregon.
Featured the Oregon IFL card is a battle between the Portland Wolf Pack, lead by Matt Lindland and Maurice Smith’s Seattle Tigersharks. Recently Lindland not only released his roster for the Wolf Pack, but he also announced the main event superfight in which he’ll be participating in later that evening.
“I can tell you the roster for my team,” said Matt to MMAWeekly recently. “We’ve got Ryan Schultz at lightweight, Chris Wilson at Welterweight, Matt Horwich at 185lbs, a really talented young kid named Aaron Stark at 205lbs, and Devin Cole at heavyweight.”
If many of the names seem familiar to people in the Northwest area it is because not only have Horwich and Cole participated in the IFL before as members of the Tiger Sharks, but they, along with the remainder of the team, are all members of Team Quest.
“It’s not a coincidence,” explained Matt. “I could easily go out and get guys that aren’t in Team Quest for my IFL team, but I want guys that I’ve worked with. I want these guys working together with a real team atmosphere.”
“It’s all about where you fit in, where you’re comfortable at, the environment and coaching situation. It’s a team where the strength’s going to be in The Pack, and the guys aren’t allowed to call me Coach but have to call me The Alpha-Male,” added Lindland with a confident chuckle.
Not only is Matt looking forward to seeing how his relatively young team is going to work together, he’s excited about creating some natural Northwest rivalry with Smith’s Tiger Sharks team which is based around only 150 miles away from the Wolf Pack.
“You’ve got Portland VS Seattle which I hope is going to be an incredible rivalry for years to come,” said an enthusiastic Lindland. “Whenever we fight that team I’m excited because it’s going to be an interesting rivalry. We’re friends with those guys and have trained with them, but we want to beat their asses.”
Matt continued, “All of the guys on the Tiger Sharks and Wolf Pack have fought either in Sportfight or in the Portland area, so that including my superfight should bring in a really good crowd. I fully expect our team to win this fight. I don’t know if we’re going to shut them out, but I’m very confident in my team.”
Speaking of Lindland’s superfight, Matt is slated to take on another 185lb veteran in a fight many have been anticipating for, for many years and is by all accounts a dream match-up.”
“The superfight signed is for me to face Jeremy Horn,” confirmed Lindland. “Neither one of us since we’ve started competing have been out of the Top 5, so with two of the best middleweights in the world going at it, it’s basically like a title fight.”
With Matt’s world class wrestling skills and Horn’s elite ground game colliding, the odds this fight could hit the canvas and become a chess game is high, and that’s what Lindland is anticipating.
“He’s a sneaky son of a bitch on the ground I’ll tell you. He’s submitted Chael Sonnen twice, but I’m not as slow-witted as Chael is,” said Matt with a light-hearted rib to his teammate.
“There are a lot of guys out there that I looked at like I’d eventually fight them, Jeremy is one of them. I looked at Joe Doerksen like that in the past, Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, and even Carlos Newton. He’s got a team with the IFL now so maybe that one is closer to happening,” concluded Lindland.