by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It had been over a year since Matt “The Law” Lindland had last competed, prior to his win over Fabio Negao at this past weekend’s Affliction: Banned show.
In that time the middleweight division has seen its share of changes, but mainly, do to his inactivity, Lindland saw Anderson Silva rise to the top of the division.
However, with a new multi-fight deal with Affliction, and an opportunity to compete on a higher level again with more consistency, Matt can begin to work his way back up the rankings and prove that he belongs in that top spot, starting with his win over Negao.
Speaking to MMAWeekly from his home in Oregon, Lindland discussed his returning performance, his fighting career goals, and what lays ahead for his other pursuits; politics, Team Quest and Sportfight.
MMAWeekly: First off Matt, how did it feel getting back into action for the first time in over a year?
Matt Lindland: I felt great. I was excited to get in there and go. I just couldn’t figure out why I was so winded, and then I got home and I went to the doctor and got diagnosed with phenomena, so I figured it out. But yeah, it was a long break. I was excited when I got in the ring. I ran across the ring and touched gloves even before we got instructions. So, I was ready to go, yeah, for sure.
MMAWeekly: Illness aside, what do you think of what you were able to do in the fight, technically?
Matt Lindland: I felt like I performed pretty well. My technique was pretty good. I threw some nice high kicks and a couple of body kicks. I dropped him, landed punches and was close to a submission – there’s a lot of positive stuff out of that fight. As an athlete you’re always looking to improve, and I certainly came away from it knowing there’s a lot of things I could do better.
You know, he didn’t come after me real hard. He was more of a counter guy in that fight, so it made me push the action and initiate everything. Basically if he would have came at me and pushed to win the bout more, it would have opened up more stuff for me, but I didn’t have that luxury.
MMAWeekly: It appeared you had him in trouble a couple times in the fight on the ground, but the ring didn’t allow for you to control him a cage would have. Was the ring a factor in the fight for you?
Matt Lindland: Yeah, I think for that fight – since we spent so much time on the ground – that a cage would have been better, but esthetically I like the ring better. Personally, just for esthetics I think it looks more sporting. Honestly if it’s a ring or a cage, I don’t really have a preference to tell you the truth.
MMAWeekly: Having fought in a multitude of shows over the years, what do you think of what Affliction did this past weekend?
Matt Lindland: I was impressed with them. I think they did a great job. I don’t know if they’re going to make their money back on Pay-Per-View or not, or if they’re making money off selling merchandise, but they’ve got Donald Trump involved, so I’m sure they have a good business plan.
They’d said that they were ready to lose money the first couple of shows, and I think anyone who gets into this business has to be ready to make those kind of investments to put together a new show and organization.
Look at all these other shows… Bodog had the money to continue, they just decided it wasn’t worth it. The IFL, I think they made mistakes along the way and spent maybe more than they needed too. But these guys (Affliction) sold a lot of tickets. I don’t think the IFL did a show close to this number of tickets sold.
MMAWeekly: Did they give you any indication afterwards that they were going to make a push and bring in more talent for you to round out the middleweight division?
Matt Lindland: There was some guys, some names mentioned. Certainly the guy they have on the roster now at 185 was Vitor (Belfort), and he looked phenomenal. But yeah, they mentioned some other big names. I certainly hope so, because I have a couple more fights with them. I certainly hope that the Affliction guys use me on their next show. It was great to back in there, and getting my legs back under me, it was fun. I want to compete as much as I can.
MMAWeekly: During the broadcast, Jay Glazer mentioned how good it was to see you fighting again, and the fans sure appeared to have the same notion. It’s got to feel good knowing you’ve still got a ton of people behind you that missed you this past year.
Matt Lindland: Absolutely, I felt like there was a lot of support. I don’t think it was necessarily my best performance, but I step up to the level of competition I face, and I think it was stylistic-wise, Fabio wasn’t in there to make me look good. He was in there to make a statement that he could hang for three rounds and he didn’t allow me to show how I have improved over the last couple of years. I still think I was able to show a lot.
I had a lot of people telling me that they were looking forward to watching me. Honestly, I had 37 text messages after that fight telling me congratulations and it was good to see me fight. That’s a lot of people; I didn’t even know I had that many people in my phone book. I was getting all that support going into the fight, so it was great.
MMAWeekly: Okay, now tell us about some of the things you’ve got going on outside the ring. Can you update us on Team Quest, Sportfight and your political run for office?
Matt Lindland: I’ve got a couple guys coming off IFL contracts, so we’re in negotiations right now to find all those guys homes. I’m sure you’ll be the first to hear pretty soon when we’ll get everyone landed, but those negotiations are going well. I’ve got a great gym manager, Scott McKendry, who is doing a real phenomenal job increasing memberships.
The weekend I was fighting at the Affliction show, he hosted the FILA grappling event, and we had over 50 competitors there. We qualified a bunch of guys for the new FILA grappling tournament, world team trials. He’s experimenting some in Marketing, adding Gi classes with Fabiano Schrener there teaching, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. The gym is really becoming a turn-key operation for us, with the base we built and the new manager we got in there.
The Sportfight promotion is continuing to go. I’m just trying to pull myself away a little more and just become more of the match-maker and the guy that oversees things, rather than the guy who does everything. I’ve got Chris Moss on the production side, and I’m looking to get someone new to help come in on the promotion side and help with the marketing and all that kind of stuff. I’m just really getting myself more organized. I just recently hired a personal assistant, so I have that in place.
I have a great campaign manager named Tootie Smith, she was the former representative in the neighboring district, and she’s on board with my campaign now. We had a strategic meeting the other day and we’ve got some fundraising events being set up; some door-knocking, campaigning event scheduled, and just getting the game plan in place. Now it’s just a matter of executing everything and moving forward. I’m still looking to raise more money to win this election. MattForOregon.com is the website to direct people to if they want to see me legislature.
MMAWeekly: Sounds good, Matt. Thanks for taking the time for this interview. Is there anything you want to say in closing?
Matt Lindland: I want to thank my new sponsor for this event, that were great to have them behind me, Grenade Gloves. They make snowboarding gloves and apparel right here in Oregon. Danny Kass, an Olympic silver medal winner, X-Games champion, and one of the co-owners of the company came down and supported me. I’m looking forward to continue a long relationship with those guys. Dirty Boxer, this is the year that we’re going to see a lot of promotion for them and getting our apparel line out. And, a special thanks to Clinch Gear for making my custom shorts.
Keep blowing up the message boards and letting people know you want to see me back in the ring. Make some suggestions on opponents, because I’m open to fighting anybody. So if there anyone in particular that fans want to see me fight, let us know. There’s a couple guys that I’d like to avenge some losses against like Murilo Bustamante and David Terrell, but I’m open to fighting whoever the fans want to see me fight.