by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Ever since its inception in 2004, Matt Lindland and Randy Couture’s Sportfight promotion has grown into one of the top showcases for talent not only on the West Coast, but throughout the country.

Initially designed to be a spotlight for Team Quest’s up-and-coming fighters, Sportfight has seen its share of stars emerge, such as Chris Leben and Ed Herman, and has also featured veteran superstars like Jeremy Horn, Sean Sherk, and even Matt Lindland himself.

Tonight at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon, Sportfight will hold its 17th event, entitled Hot Zone, and promises to be one of the best shows in the series’ increasingly impressive history.

“This is close to our third year and the growth of our show is like the growth of the sport, it’s grown tremendously the last few years,” said Lindland of the promotion. “We started out in smaller venues and now we’re in the Rose Garden where the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA play.”

The growth of Sportfight into a major arena has come justly, as evidenced by the fact that the show has outdrawn the other tenets of the building routinely.

“We out-draw the [Portland LumberJax] professional lacrosse team that has millions of dollars behind them and the support of the city behind them,” explained Matt. “We get the left-overs, the scraps for dates and we definitely out-draw them and with the way the Blazers have been playing, we out-draw them some games.”

Tonight’s card is a unique mix of fighters soon to be featured on national television, established local talent and future stars.

“There are some guys on here that are going to be competing in the IFL, Ryan Schultz and Chris Wilson. Ian Loveland is on the card, we are in talks to get him on some bigger shows and Ed Nuno is making his pro debut, he’s one of the area’s top armature fighters. We’ve got some great up-and-comers and the top of the card has some great veterans,” exclaimed Lindland.

If the promotion’s previous roster of fighters is any indication of where some of this talent is headed, it could be one of those can’t miss nights of action.

“We’ve had five guys come through Sportfight that have fought/will fight for UFC titles,” commented Matt. “Myself, Dennis Hallman, Sean Sherk, Jeremy Horn, and our Heavyweight Champion Jeff Monson have all gone after belts.”

Originally the card was to feature co-Main Events, but due to injuries sustained earlier this week Cam Ward had to drop out of his number one contenders match with Ryan Schultz.

Ryan will still compete on the show, and the evening will now be headlined by a Welterweight Championship fight between title holder Chris Wilson and challenger LaVerne Clark. And as Lindland explains, it could be a possible Fight of the Year candidate.

“This is a great fight for the fans,” stated Matt. “It features two of the best technical strikers around. Both have knockout power and have a total attack with knees, kicks, and a lot of different punching combinations.”

Lindland concluded, “If you’re anywhere close to Portland come out to the show. Sportfight is the premier promotion in the Northwest and I think this is one of our best cards yet.”