by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Matt ‘The Law’ Lindland appeared on MMAWeekly Radio Thursday where he discussed an array of topics including: tonight’s SportFight event at the Rose Garden in downtown Portland, Oregon; teammate Dan Henderson’s Pride Welterweight Championship victory over Murilo Bustamante on New Year’s Eve; Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture’s rubber match with Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell coming up in less than a month, the current situation at Team Quest and more.
The Pacific Northwest has an ever growing fight scene and SportFight has tapped into the well-stocked market of MMA talent. “We’ve got a great fight scene out here in the Northwest. I mean you’ve got Team Quest. You’ve got American Top Team that just above us here in Olympia . . . All the way up to AMC in Seattle, all the way down to Northern California where that kid Terrell, he’s out of there. All up and down that I-5 corridor we’ve got great fighters. It’s just exciting to put on these kinds of shows and this kind of a card for me because I’m looking forward to the fights more than I am; I don’t like promoting so much. The only reason why I got into it was to get our guys from Team Quest more fights. It became quite a job. It’s like you give $60,000 away and then you hope that you make that much money back in ticket sales.” Lindland said.
Tonight will mark the 14th event for Matt Lindland and Randy Couture’s Oregon-based SportFight promotion, and Lindland couldn’t be happier about the card. He said, “I’m the most excited about his card than I’ve ever been. I don’t have a lot of huge names that the hardcores would really recognize. I’ve got a couple of guys from the reality show going at it: Lodone Sincaid and Alex Schoenauer, a couple of guys who couldn’t get a fight in the show, a couple of tough guys. I’m looking forward to that fight as well, but my two title defenses are local guys that have been built up. Guys I’ve had come out of our gym before, like Leben and Quarry, those kinds of guys.”
He added, “I’ve got Chris Wilson, our welterweight, that is looking break through to that next level. He’s our champion, out of Team Quest, our SportFight Champion. This is his first title defense against a really tough Pat Healy. Pat’s been around this a long time. He’s a professional boxer. He reminds me of Chris Lytle. He’s a very experienced guy with really good boxing skills, and he can wrestle, and he can do submissions. Chris has been working a lot on his wrestling being in our gym. He’s usually on the bottom end of the wrestling game, but his striking is phenomenal. He throws kicks and punches, knees and elbows. I mean the kid hits you with every single weapon he’s got. I’m really looking forward to that fight.”
Further discussing SportFight 14: Resolution, Lindland stated, “Our other title defense is Cam Ward took out our champion of like three years, Dennis Davis, and Cam took him out a couple of shows ago. Cam’s still got an undefeated record, and he is going against John Gunderson who’s got like 25 fights. Cam’s only like 8-0-0, so it’s going to be a big task for Cam, but I think it’s going to be one of those fights that’s going to end on the ground some way, somehow. That fight is going to end up on the ground, and someone’s going to get a submission finish.”
Dan ‘Hollywood’ Henderson is now a world champion. Lindland cornered Henderson for his title bout with Murilo Bustamante last weekend and gave his perspective on the match. “You know what? He almost knocked Bustamante out like three different times. And Pride is very specific on the way they judge fights, and they are looking for guys to finish the fight. Not one time did Bustamante come close to finishing Dan Henderson and that was the difference in the fight.”
Matt continued, “If you watched it, you heard me yelling, let him back up. Let him back up. You hurt him. I think he could have finished him. After he took him down, he started getting tired, though. He wanted to just take him down and lay there. He thought he had done enough to win the fight. I wasn’t sure. You’re never sure unless you knock the guy out, so I wanted him to let him back up because I know that Dan is very capable of knocking him out. He did it the first time they fought . . . He was trying to finish it. He almost did finish it. He hit him with a combo and Bustamante changed level and Dan hit him with a knee and I saw his eyes roll back in his head. They ended up going to the ground and Dan didn’t land any more punches, but he was definitely dazed.”
Henderson looked fatigued in the fight. Questioned about Dan’s conditioning, Lindland answered, “He was in great shape for that fight. Talking to him after the fight, he said, I don’t know, maybe I was more nervous than I thought I was. I mean it was his first chance to get a belt, and I know he really wanted to win. He was well prepared. He had a great game plan going into that fight. He did a lot of stuff that we worked on; going for under hooks and not letting Bustamante get the takedown, but a couple of times Bustamante did get the takedown. There was a lot of stuff that Dan could have done better in that fight, and he knows it. That’s what’s great about it; that wasn’t even his best fight and he won the world title. He’s got so much more potential. I think that’s the good news is, it wasn’t my best fight. I’ve had better fights, but I still won this one, and it wasn’t even one of my better performances.”
Co-promoter of SportFight and longtime teammate of Matt Lindland, Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture, is in yet another title bout Superbowl weekend against UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell. It will be the 10th time Couture has competed for a UFC title and the third time against Liddell. Each fighter has won one in dominating performances. Lindland was questioned about the highly anticipated rubber match. He said, “They were completely different fights. Obviously whoever can impose their will because when Chuck imposed his will and implemented his game plan, we all saw what happened. When Randy did the same thing to Chuck and implemented his game plan, we saw what happened the other way. They’re both great fighters, and it’s going to come down to who is focused and able to implement their game plan that night.”
With Randy Couture relocating to Vegas and Chris Leben making the move to Washington, many are wondering what is going on at Team Quest. “The situation is, Dan’s been in California since 2000 and he comes up here to prepare for fights. I go down there to prepare for fights. We help corner each other. We work together as much as we can. He sends some of his guys up here. I send some of my guys down to train with him. He is opening his own gym, believe it or not, this month. Sometime in January he’s going to have the doors at Team Quest in Temecula opened up. He’s going to be running it as a gym for regular students like we have up in Oregon. He’s always had a great group of training partners and fighters down there. He’s got a bunch of good guys that are excellent fighters that have fought all over that he trains with. The only real change is Randy moved on us. He moved down to Vegas. He’s going to be up next week for a camp we’re doing up here. He was up here training with me and Dan right before I left for Cage Rage. It was like brothers getting into the room and fighting it out. We had some great rounds,” stated Lindland.
One of the wonderful things about live radio is the interaction between the fans and the show. Matt Lindland fielded questions from the live fighter chat and callers addressing the issues the fans wanted. He was asked about training in Hawaii with BJ Penn. Lindland said, “I’ve gone over there three times. I immensely enjoy the climate, the atmosphere, and you always get outstanding training there, so whenever I can get the opportunity to, I’m definitely going to head back over there.”
Commenting on BJ Penn, Lindland had nothing but praises. He stated, “That guy is the most incredible athlete I’ve ever met. I’ve never met anybody that can learn so fast and do something that he learned so well. If somebody teaches me something, I’ve got to drill it a million times, and it takes me two years to master the technique. BJ, you can show it to him once and he’s like I got it. And you’re like, wait a minute. He’s like, I got it, and he does. He’s amazing.”
Is Penn amazing enough to defeat George St. Pierre, Matt Hughes and then Rich Franklin? According to Matt Lindland he is. When asked, Matt answered, “I think BJ can go 3-0 for sure. I think he can. Rich hasn’t been tested. George St. Pierre, that first one’s going to be a tough fight for him. He’s already beaten Hughes. I don’t see him having a big problem doing that again. He’s fought the bigger guys. I think the size is going to be the only factor in that Franklin fight. I think BJ’s a lot more well rounded fighter. I think that he’s a lot more skilled. Like I said, he’s definitely a lot more athletic. It’s just that Franklin’s a big dude. BJ is not a huge dude.”
Matt Lindland is one of the biggest named free agents on the MMA market. A caller inquired about his future and if it would include any more fights in the London-based promotion Cage Rage. “I don’t have a Cage Rage contract, but I kind of got a really good relationship with those guys. I think anytime I want to go over there and fight, they’re happy to have me over there . . . Not being involved with the UFC has opened a lot of doors for me fighting overseas. As much as I like fighting in front of the American fans and for the UFC; they’ve got a great promotion. I’m really excited about fighting overseas, anywhere.”
Questioned if he ever sees himself fighting in the UFC again, Lindland answered, “I didn’t make those decisions. I would certainly be open to fighting there again if I got an offer. Like I said, I love fighting in front of the American fans. I’m looking forward to fighting overseas, but I love to fight in front of my own country, and the UFC is really a great organization. It’s really up to them. If they want to test their guys at 185 against a top guy, then they need to bring me back. If they want to keep Rich Franklin there and just keep feeding him cans, then I probably won’t be back.”
To hear the Matt Lindland interview in it’s entirety, click on the radio archive. For all informaton about SportFight, go to www.sportfight.tv.