by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
When the most recent Official MMAWeekly World Rankings came out only one fighter not holding a championship belt in the UFC or PRIDE managed to be the top of his weight class, perennial stand-out Matt “The Law” Lindland.
Over the last couple of years Lindland has remained one of the most active and dominating fighters in the sport, regardless of a long-term deal with a singular promotion. He’s even gone as far as to move up in weight to take on much larger fighters just to show his willingness to compete at the highest levels.
While in Las Vegas to corner PRIDE Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson in his bout against Vitor Belfort, Matt spoke to MMAWeekly to discuss the UFC title picture, Henderson’s bout with Belfort, the IFL and when we can expect to see Lindland back in the ring again.
MMAWeekly: First off Matt, give us your thoughts on this past weekend’s UFC Middleweight Championship match between Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva, a fight many feel you should have at one time or another been a part of.
Matt Lindland: To answer your question I’m not in the UFC, but I’d love to fight either one of those guys. Not being in the UFC though kind of restricts me fighting their fighters. What I thought about the fight, it looked like some of Rich’s weaknesses got exposed in that fight for sure.
Anderson looked sharp that night – they’re both good fighters – Anderson had a great night and Rich didn’t. It looks like Rich hasn’t been working on specific positions. There would have been a million things I would have done to Anderson if he grabs my head like that.
MMAWeekly: There’s always been rumors of you possibly facing Silva, most recently in Cage Rage, let’s say the two of you do end up in the same promotion at the same time, is that a fight you’d want as soon as possible?
Matt Lindland: Absolutely, that’s definitely an opponent I’d love to get in there with for sure. I’m looking to get in there with whoever the best guys are. If Anderson is one of the top guys, which it looks like to me he is being the UFC’s top guy, I’d love to get in there and face him.
MMAWeekly: In the most recent MMAWeekly Top 10 you placed 1st in the middleweight division. I know you’ve always said in the past there are no moral victories, but is there any justification there being the top ranked middleweight?
Matt Lindland: I think in everybody’s rankings I should be the Number 1 middleweight in the world. I don’t see anybody out there at middleweight that could beat me at the time, but rankings are just that, rankings.
It’s nice to be recognized as the Number 1 guy because organizations are going to be forced to deal with me if they want to have legitimate fights on their card. That adds up the dollars for me and that’s what this is all about, fighting for money and supporting my family.
MMAWeekly: One reason many people think you continue to be at the top of the middleweight division is that, unlike some fighters, you’ve continued to evolve and become better-rounded.
Matt Lindland: I definitely think you have to continue to improve and add things to your fight game. I’ve only been doing the fighting game for a few years now…I got my feet wet in 2000, was wrestling and fighting in 2001, in 2002 I got full-time into it. So for four years doing this full-time I have had a lot to learn, I had a lot of things I got to work on.
That knockout against Jeremy Horn [in the IFL] didn’t happen because I just now started working on my stand-up; it’s something I’ve been working on for years. My submission it’s the same thing…I’ve been working on finishing guys for years. I think early in my career I relied a lot on my wrestling because that’s what I do, but now I’ve developed new skills and have been able to show those as well.
MMAWeekly: Okay let’s talk about the reason you’re in Vegas this weekend, cornering Dan Henderson’s fight against Vitor Belfort at PRIDE: The Real Deal. What are your thoughts having worked with Dan on this fight?
Matt Lindland: I’m excited about his fight, Vitor’s awesome, he’s one guy to watch and with Dan it’s going to be an exciting fight. Everybody loves to watch Henderson go in there and knock guys out so I think it’s one of the most intriguing fights on the card.
If Dan puts his gameplan in place he’s going to take Vitor out. If Vitor comes in and fights like he did at certain times in his career, there aren’t many guys in the world that can top that. So we’re just going out there and execute our gameplan in this match.
MMAWeekly: Next let’s hit on the upcoming IFL World Team Semi-Finals the first weekend of November where your Portland Wolfpack will be taking on Bas Rutten’s Los Angeles Anacondas. How have preparations for that been going?
Matt Lindland: Our team is always together, for us it’s just business as usual. I haven’t brought any new guys into the Wolfpack; it’s the same guys [that fought the Tiger Sharks]. The guys are looking better than ever, they’re focused and excited about this opportunity. We’re in the semi-finals and we’re looking to get past Bas’ guys.
We’ve gotten some really exciting match-ups, every fight on that card is a fight we’ve got a chance to win and I’m expecting us to win each one of those fights. Its five fights and I can see us taking them all. Bas’ guys are really good but I feel we match up with them well.
MMAWeekly: It’s got to feel good that Portland was chosen to host the semi-finals, giving you guys the home field advantage as it were.
Matt Lindland: I think the Portland fans have developed a good base with Team Quest and Sportfight, and there’s phenomenal stuff going on up here in Portland. We really worked together with the IFL to help promote the event and did everything on our end as far as getting fans out to the show and really supporting the IFL.
MMAWeekly: Speaking of Sportfight, when can we expect to see the next installment of that promotion?
Matt Lindland: I don’t see anything in the real near future, but I’m expecting something around the first of the year.
MMAWeekly: And of course what everyone wants to know, when will we see The Law back in the action again?
Matt Lindland: As soon as possible…I’m out here in Vegas and there’s a lot of promoters out here that I need to get out there and talk to and figure out who’s going to put together the most complete package for me.
MMAWeekly: Thanks for your time as always Matt, we appreciate it. Is there anything you’d like to say before we head out?
Matt Lindland: I just want to thank everybody…BetEagle.com has been with me for a while now, Sprawl’s always stepped up, and Team Latus Motors gave me that nice bike last summer and I’m still rolling that thing around. I also want to thank MMAWeekly; you guys have done a great job…even in the absence of Ryan [Bennett] I think you guys have picked up and continued to move forward, he’d be proud of you guys.