by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Matt Lindland is one of the most respected middleweight fighters in the world. He’s defeated top competitors such as Carlos Newton, Jeremy Horn, Travis Lutter and Phil Baroni. He’s been out of action for over a year, but he will make his return the ring on July 21 in Affliction’s debut show. He will be taking on a well-rounded fighter in Fabio Negao.
“I’m excited to get in the ring,” said Lindland recently on MMAWeekly Radio. Even though he has not fought for a while, he is very confident going into this fight. “His name is Fabio. What else is there to say? There is no way I’m losing to a guy named Fabio. I don’t know what else we got to talk about. If I had a name like that, I would hate my parents for doing that.”
Even though he may not like his opponent’s name, he is still taking him seriously and is hoping to put on a show this Saturday. “Hopefully I can put on a great performance on Saturday night. I’m just super excited just to get back into the ring and beat somebody up. I’m planning a suplex. My whole goal in this fight is to throw a suplex. I’m not going to guarantee you that the guy is going to land inside of the ropes.”
Lindland has trained at Team Quest as usual for his fight, however he took some time to visit with an old teammate, Randy Couture. “Right now I feel phenomenal. Mostly I just had the guys at my gym. They’re so good right now. I just got to surround myself with a bunch of good guys. I’ve shown them stuff all along about how I train. They appreciate everything that I’ve done and they’ve come and push me and it really helped me a lot. I went out to Randy’s for a couple days. I worked out with Forrest about three weeks before his fight. I got to work out with Randy and punch him for a while. That was fun.”
This fight for Lindland is his first for the new Affliction clothing promotion. So far, he’s content with them and has had a good experience. “They’ve been decent to deal with,” he said. “They booked my travel and told me what I needed to do for medicals. That’s about it. I did have to go to New York the day after the primary for a press conference. That was fun. I always like New York. I met Donald Trump. Now he’s a partner in the show. That’s always cool meeting people like that.”
Affliction is looking to make a name for themselves in their debut event. Many of the new organizations have had a hard time trying to compete with the juggernaut known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The IFL has had a real tough time trying to make ends meet. They have had to cancel their most recent show and the chances of them being able to rebound look bleak.
“It was great because it gave guys like Ryan and Matt some good opportunities. The more organizations, the more competition is going to push everyone’s level. You can’t continue to spend more than you make and have that be part of your plan.”
Lindland is a former top contender in the UFC middleweight division. However, he hasn’t fought for the UFC in years and has had some very blunt words about them. Regardless, he feels his words are misconstrued because he does not hate the UFC. He just doesn’t always agree with them.
“That’s not the case. I have a lot of respect for what they do. I don’t agree with everything they do. It doesn’t mean that I don’t admire them as an organization and the way they promote,” explained Lindland. “They continue to fill out arenas and sell out shows when everybody else in the industry struggles. You look at EliteXC got a deal on CBS, but they are millions of dollars in debt. IFL is going out of business and every other small show out there, including myself, struggle to turn a profit. I certainly don’t hate them. They are a great organization. I just don’t always agree with them. We haven’t found a common ground so we can work together.”
Lindland is in the promotion business himself. He has a fairly successful organization called SportFight that he puts on in the Portland area. However, he realizes the work and difficulties that go into putting on mixed martial arts shows. “It’s a struggle. It’s a lot of work. If you are looking to get into promotion and you think you are going to make big money in one or two shows, you’re in the wrong business.”
Affliction will have some possible troubles of their own as the UFC has decided to put on a free show on Spike TV to rival Affliction’s debut show. Affliction’s vice president Tom Atencio said that he was “flattered” by the UFC putting on a show just to counter-program theirs. Lindland believes that Atencio was just trying to play damage control.
“What else are you going to say? We’re trying to sell pay-per-views and they’re giving it away. I don’t know. There isn’t an intriguing match on that card that I can see. The Affliction card is stacked. Anderson is a phenomenal fighter, but he’s fighting James Irvin. That’s just not a test for him at 205 or 185. I don’t think people are super excited about that match-up. I think people are real excited about some of the match-ups on the Affliction show. I hope we sell some pay-per-views.”
Matt Lindland’s nickname is “The Law” and he soon may be able to assist in legislature. In November, he will be running for State Representative of House District 52 in Oregon. If he is elected, what will happen to his career in mixed martial arts?
“I’d probably have to sit back for twelve months and legislate. I’ll have to take a little break and give back to the people. It was something I was always going to get into when I slowed down, but I never slow down.”