September 15, 2007

by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Over the years Matt Lindland has worn many hats. He’s been an Olympic Medalist, a top-ranked MMA fighter, and more importantly, a leader and mentor to the members of the Oregon chapter of Team Quest.

Throughout it all, Matt has remained one of the most focused, determined and competitive individuals in all of sports, which has earned him the admiration of both fans and fellow athletes alike. And, because of this, he remains busy with his myriad of roles.

After facing off against consensus #1 ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko this past April, Lindland has been working non-stop, helping his teammates train for their respective fights, as well as re-tooling his IFL team, and getting ready to present the latest installment of his successful MMA promotion.

During a brief break in his busy schedule, Matt spoke to MMAWeekly to discuss various subjects, including his cornering of Dan Henderson at UFC 75, the Portland Wolfpack and Sportfight.

MMAWeekly: Firstly, Matt, let’s talk about the recent light heavyweight championship unification bout at UFC 75, where you corned Dan Henderson against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. What are your thoughts on the fight and how Dan performed?

Matt Lindland: Well, I certainly don’t want to make any excuses for Dan, or anybody – especially on someone else’s behalf – but a little bit of [how Henderson performed was due to] his arms being fatigued. He hurt his neck about three weeks before the fight and I think it was pinching some nerve or something in his arms. By the end of the first or second round, I can remember him telling me, “I can’t even feel my arms,” so I know that didn’t help things out for him at all.

He didn’t have any opportunity to take time off [to heal], being three weeks out. So, I honestly don’t think conditioning was a factor. I mean, I’ve heard some people say, “Hey, he gassed, because he came out so strong and then faded,” as far as the swing of the bout toward the end. But, I really don’t think conditioning was the factor.

I don’t know what the difference in the fight was. I thought it was a great stylistic match-up and Quinton fought a “great” fight and Dan fought an “okay” fight, that’s kind of how it went. I don’t think Dan fought poorly and I don’t feel he “lost” the fight, it was a very close fight, but I just feel like he didn’t “win” it. I don’t think he did anything particular that lost the fight for him or did anything in particular that won it for him either.

MMAWeekly: Okay, moving on to you, prior to corning Dan, what have you been up to lately?

Matt Lindland: The week before that, I was at the Bodog show [with Chris Wilson], then I went straight to the UFC show, and then this week I’m going to the IFL show. We’ve got Jake [Ellenberger] fighting for Miletich’s [Quad Cities Silverbacks]. We’ve got Ryan [Schultz] in one of the superfights there with Aaron Riley.

I’m trying to get as much training done as I can between being gone and cornering guys. I need to get something scheduled so guys quit asking me to go train with them and corner them, so I can stay home, focus on my own training and get ready for fights. [Laughs]

Right now I don’t have anything imminent; I’ve got a lot of, “This is what we think we’re going to do; this should work; maybe this day, maybe this opponent,” but nothing I can give you a solid answer on right now. I think I do have some good stuff on the horizon though, some exciting stuff, I just don’t have any solid commitments.

MMAWeekly: There’s been some confusion to where you exactly stand as far as weight class goes. Do you know what weight class you’ll be fighting at in the future?

Matt Lindland: I don’t. It’s between three different weight classes. I will honestly fight at the middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. I feel I’m most competitive at middleweight, because that’s where I feel I’m the best in the world, for sure. I think I can hang in there with the best of ’em.

We both saw the match where I beat Quinton Jackson [in the WFA], but two of the judges gave it to him; and right now he’s one of the top-ranked light heavyweights in the world. So, I think I can compete with the light heavyies as well.

The only heavyweight I’ve taken on so far is the guy that most people consider the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now. And, it wasn’t my best performance, but it showed I could get in there and compete with the big boys too – so, I don’t think you couldn’t rule me out of any weight class.

MMAWeekly: Trevor Prangley told us after he won the BodogFight 185-pound title that he would welcome a fight with you. Since you’re under contract to BodogFight, is that a fight you’d be interested in?

Matt Lindland: That would be a great match-up. Stylistically, Trevor and I make an exciting match-up. He understands the style of fighter I am and I think he makes for a very tough match-up for me.

I think there are some other guys, though, that are ranked higher than him, which I match up better with. I think, Anderson Silva, for example. Some people have him ranked #1 at middleweight, and I think I match up really well with him. But, I’m looking forward to getting in there with absolutely anybody.

MMAWeekly: Okay, let’s talk about some of your other endeavors. First off, your IFL team, the Portland Wolfpack, what’s the current status with them?

Matt Lindland: I released my welterweight [Mike Dolce] and my light heavyweight [Aaron Stark], purely so they could get more match-ups and experience. So right now, we’re looking to fill those spots for next year. Again, I want to make clear that I only released them so they could get more experience, they could be back with the team next year, but for right now those spots are open.

I’ve got some big news that I just can’t release, who my heavyweight is, until we get him on American soil and into the Team Quest gym training – but look for us to have the #1 heavyweight in the IFL next year. Ryan [Schultz, lightweight] and [middleweight Matt] Horwich will be in the [individual] Grand Prix [later this year], and they’ve secured their spots with their work ethic and everything, so we’re going to have a very strong team next year.

MMAWeekly: And what about your MMA promotion, Sportfight, what’s up next for the company?

Matt Lindland: We’ve got our next show on Oct. 27 and it’s going to be our best card ever. I say that every time, but, honestly, I didn’t need to bring in a lot of guys that aren’t from around here except for opponents for Chael Sonnen – who’s our main event, fighting Kyacey Uscola – and Chris Wilson – who’s fighting a very tough opponent, Derrick Noble.

Both are fights my guys are very excited about and style-wise these can be very exciting match-ups for both Chael and Chris. We’ve got Gerald Strebendt fighting Enoch Wilson. We’ve got Dolce on the card – I didn’t book Stark because we’ve got him out fighting in Oklahoma – and we’ve got a lot of other great fights.

It’s “BodogFight presents Sportfight” this time. They’re our title sponsor for this show and we’re excited to be working with them. We have a ton of big things in the works.

We’re looking to do another TV thing with the local Fox affiliate and just a lot of exciting stuff with Sportfight. Three years ago when we went to the Fox affiliate about our sport, they said, “Oh, the MMA, that’s too violent of content for our audience,” but now, they’re like, “Wait, we really want that stuff,” so that’s good news, good stuff is happening.