For Matt Lindland, experience is key.
The mixed martial arts veteran is gearing up for his 30th professional career fight, and with that tally comes a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of the sport; a multitude of ins and outs with various tricks of the trade.
This is one thing no one can take away from Lindland. The man has seen a lot and done more than most. Over the past 13 years, he’s fought the likes of Murilo Bustamante, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Fedor Emelianenko. This kind of resume says something about a guy – he’s got the knowledge to get the job done.
The next task in that job is the handling of another MMA veteran in “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. A career man of nine years, Lawler stands as the younger competitor in the match-up, but Lindland recognizes that his opponent also comes with a good deal of “know-how” in the sport.
“I’m looking forward to fighting Robbie,” Lindland said. “He’s a young talented guy. He’s been in the sport as long as I have, so he’s got a ton of experience.”
No matter the amount of respect he has for Lawler, Lindland still sees this fight as a steppingstone towards a greater good. He seeks a return to title town. Gold hardware is a must for the veteran, and his opinion of being a Top 10 fighter leads him to believe he is set on the path to becoming a champion.
“I think I’m still one of the top contenders in this sport, a Top 10 guy,” he said. “Of course, I lost to the champion, ‘Jacare’ (Ronaldo Souza), and I think this is a great path back to that title contention. A win against Robbie certainly solidifies me in the Top 10.”
With a respectable record of 22-7, Lindland makes a strong argument for being in the upper echelon of middleweights in the world. Although he is 1-2 in his last three fights, his last performance, a third-round TKO win over Kevin Casey, showed that he is still not done in the fight game.
Robbie Lawler would, obviously, be an even greater test for Lindland. Many would argue that, as in this fight, Lindland is at a disadvantage right off the bat. Lawler is younger, faster, stronger, and has a scary stand-up arsenal.
All that being said, he still recognizes the dangers of going to the canvas with “Ruthless.”
“People see him as a big striker and a brawler, but the guy is well-rounded,” Lindland said. “He knows how to fight on his feet, he knows how to wrestle, he knows how to fight on the ground. So, I gotta be prepared for all aspects of the sport.”
Lindland will truly look to impose his will against Lawler. In this fight, he believes it will be a battle of wills. Whoever has the edge in that war will likely be the victor.
“If I had my way, I’d like to put Robbie on his back and pound a hole in his head,” said Lindland. “I’m sure Robbie would like to try and keep it on his feet and put me to sleep standing up, so I really think it’s about whoever can impose their will.”
In comparison, it all goes back to the experience factor, Lindland’s 13 years to Lawler’s nine. It’s this edge that remains as Lindland’s key, apart from the desire to impose his skill set on his opponent on fight night.
“I think I’m a little wiser,” he said, comparing himself to Lawler. “I wouldn’t argue with people who say the guy is athletic. He’s got speed, he’s got power. I’m gonna have to use superior positioning, conditioning, and just the knowledge of the sport, and put him in a position he’s not comfortable in.”
The truth is, a mixture of both experience and will is what will open the gates to victory. Both of these fighters are hungry enough to beat on each other, but the question remains: which fighter will utilize his “know-how” enough to come out the winner in St. Louis?
That question will be answered on Dec. 4 at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu 2.