By Zach Arnold | May 18, 2010
I want to point you towards a great interview that Matt Lindland did with Eddie Goldman on his radio show yesterday. I say it’s great because it is in-depth on a lot of issues about Mixed Martial Arts. Everything from the failures of MMA promotions like the IFL to the current scene with Strikeforce and UFC is covered during the interview. If you are a newer MMA fan, I would highly recommend that you listen to the interview. It’s about as strong of a recommendation as I could possibly give for it.
Matt Lindland just turned 40 years old and will be fighting Spencer Pratt’s buddy, Kevin Casey, this Friday night in Portland at the Rose Garden under the Strikeforce: Challengers banner. Here is how Matt summed up his upcoming fight on Showtime this Friday night:
“You know, I match up really well against anybody that’s a ground guy. I did have one match-up against Jacare where he got the top position and snuck a choke in but he’s one of the top jiu-jitsu players in the world. You know, I’m feeling good about this fight. Kevin’s a big, strong athletic guy. I got a feeling about the middle to the end of the first round he’s going to be tired already just trying to use you know muscle to take me to the ground so he can work his jiu-jitsu game and I’m going to out-pummel him and move my feet, move his head, and just kind of make him have to wrestle. I’ve watched the film on him, he doesn’t have the wrestling techniques but he does get guys to the ground because he’s a big, strong guy and he’ll just horse them there.”
Lindland and other Team Quest fighters are local attractions in Portland and should do well in terms of business. Matt, however, indicates that he doesn’t know what kind of money Strikeforce has put into advertising the show:
“I don’t know what kind of money Strikeforce has put into the marketing. I want as many people as I can know you know and I’m still a trainer and getting ready for my fight but unless you’re spending some money in the radio and TV and I haven’t seen those numbers, I don’t know what kind of numbers they’re spending. I would have liked to have seen those numbers and seen the station buys, I think I could have helped them out. I definitely have been able to help them with the PR locally but without knowing what kind of buys they’re doing I can’t push it too hard.”
At age 40, Matt Lindland has just about seen it all in the business — from the dark days to the current period it is at now, which is much more mainstream than he could have imagined. Despite turning 40, Lindland thinks that he has a lot ahead in his future and that he is learning new techniques all the time.
“4-0, yeah, that’s the birthday. I don’t know, when you’re 30, you think man, 40, I’m going to be old and whatever and you hit that number and you’re still doing the same stuff as you were doing and you’re smarter and you know more things about a decade later of being this sport, you know, I feel like I’m just starting to learn it. It’s hard to say. I never stop learning, I constantly continue to improve in this sport but there’s definitely going to be younger guys that are going to be, that their youth and athleticism is going to be able surpass you know my knowledge at some point and I don’t know when that date is going to come, but I’ll let you know.”
Part of his growth is adding new submissions to his skill set.
“Well, absolutely, I mean just being a wrestler you know you can say yeah I’m proud of my roots and my background and my sport and still, you know, add the submission hooks and the catches to that because that’s really what it is, it’s wrestling. They can call it Brazilian jiu-jitsu or whatever they want, it’s still going back to wrestling. You take it and put on a Gi and I guess you can really call it Jiu-jitsu, but as soon as the gi comes off and those techniques are essentially wrestling holds.”
“It’s all different styles of wrestling, in my opinion, and it always has been. That’s kind of always been has my philosophy that it’s all different styles of wrestling and you know people ask you ‘do you do jiu-jitsu training?” and my answer always has been ‘No, I’ve worked with jiu-jitsu guys before’ you know but I never really done jiu-jitsu training, you know, that was up until about a year ago I put on a gi probably five or six times and got into gi classes at the gym just to observe and be a part of those classes and see what’s going on, but not really to study the sport of jiu-jitsu, just to observe some of my coaches, the way they’re coaching in the classes and you know get involved in the classes down at the gym but not necessarily because I think the gi is going to help in what I’m doing.”
Lindland is coming off of a loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and says that he made one big mistake that cost him dearly.
“Oh, I knew what I could have done differently that night. I should have got up off the bottom a lot of quicker instead of trying to work a bottom game with one of the top guys in the world, you know. He was able to secure the top position for a moment and you know I was confident enough to try to set up a triangle and then I switched over to a shoulder-lock and you know but I should have just have been fighting for that top position and controlled a positional fight because you know as I suspected if I would have gotten him in the later rounds he would have got tired, I watched him the other night he and Villasenor. You know, Jacare is a super-talented, super-athletic guy but I did see as he went into the later rounds he did tired.”
“Jacare was super explosive. Maybe nobody would have been able to stop that explosiveness you know in the first round, but like you said it was a noticeable slowdown in the second and third rounds.”
Lindland is current fighting for Strikeforce and not UFC. However, he claims he sent feelers to UFC and the promotion wasn’t interested in booking him.
“You know the time I signed the deal with Strikeforce I reached out to UFC and was trying to find out if there’s any interest at the time and coming off a loss to Vitor I don’t think they were interested in signing me at the time.”
“I don’t know (who made the call), I can’t answer for anybody else. I don’t know who is making those decisions at the time, the matchmakers or the owners, I couldn’t tell you, I don’t know those answers.”
“Well, the reason was ‘we don’t sign guys coming off of losses’ and I was coming off a loss to Vitor and so you know I went to Strikeforce.”
Since leaving UFC, Lindland has had to take some wacky fights including one against Fedor that aired on Bodog PPV. Matt says he will fight at any weight class if it means a good pay day.
“I’ll take a fight at any weight class, I don’t know if it was politics or just that’s where I was offered fights at. You know it’s called prize fighting and the biggest prize I guess is what I’m fighting so if that’s where I’m offered a fight at 205 or heavyweight, I’ll take that opportunity.”
Most of those fights have happened in promotions that have completely folded and gone under. Now that Lindland is fighting for a mid-major promotion like Strikeforce, he sees the positives and negatives that the company is going through.
“You know, I think they’re treating the athletes good, you know I don’t think they’ve got as much organized as far as getting their venues and the marketing done, I don’t know I think they’re going through some growing pains because they went from you know a really good regional show in San Jose to the show that’s doing… I mean the show last weekend in Missouri and now this week in Portland, I think they have (to get) that machine set up where they can send a second crew ahead of time to be working one market, I think they got some growing pains to get worked out. Otherwise, they got a network deal with CBS, they got a deal with Showtime, you know I think there’s a lot of great potential here for Strikeforce and you know I’m willing to do whatever I can to help promote the events and their organization.”
A major reason he is not back in UFC is because of his documentary, Fighting Politics: The Story of Matt Lindland. In his movie and in media interviews, Lindland takes no prisoners on many issues currently impacting the business. For starters, he has some words about why judging in MMA is so bad right now.
“As long as I’ve been in this sport I’ve never seen a clear-cut criteria. It’s like you know that’s what like am I going to working towards or I can coach my other athletes strategically this is what we’re going to do to win these rounds, I mean they want to keep it an enigma on what they’re basing their judging on so they can make these calls.”
One thing that really gets under Matt’s skin is what he deems to be awful announcing on MMA telecasts.
“It doesn’t matter what these announcers and these commentators say, they have the mike so whatever they say it becomes the truth and then we have to deal with that. So, I mean, there’s really nothing you can do to change it. Whatever Joe Rogan says is right. I mean I’ve had people ask me questions based on what the commentators say, you know, and it’s like and they believe it just because it comes out of their mouth it becomes truth, it becomes fact because it’s on television. It’s a powerful medium.”
Hoping to take advantage of that powerful medium, Matt Lindland is encouraging everyone to see his documentary and learn about a business that he feels is more like the Wild West than a profession that treats fighters with decency and respect.
“You should see it because it’s a very objective film. It’s just really covers the history of the sport and some of the stuff that goes on that the fans don’t really understand, they don’t get to see first-hand that this is an entertainment business, first and foremost. You know people get confused and think that this is a sporting event. There is a sport involved but first and foremost it’s an entertainment business and that’s what at the core of this industry.”
“At least in basketball or baseball or football if you don’t like [the politics], you go to another team. If you have a players union and in this sport if you don’t like what’s going on, what’s the other team? You know, essentially you’re relegated to what is considered by the fans as the minor leagues just because you didn’t get along with the management at the time of the one team. So, it’s a completely different industry and it’s not regulated well, you can’t just go to another team, so it’s a lot different you know different stuff about just the business side of the sport.”
When asked by Eddie Goldman what could be done to change the situation, Lindland responded, “Boy, I don’t know. I don’t have those answers.” Eddie brought up Rob Maysey’s MMAFA (Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association) project, Lindland had not heard of it but didn’t think that it would work out.
“Unless you can get the top athletes and you’re not going to do that. I mean the fighters, they’re all whores, they just fight for the biggest purse and it’s going to be tough unless you could somehow get all the fighters to agree to something like that and you know there’s always somebody going to come up underneath who’s not willing to do it. Like I said, it doesn’t matter who the best guys are, it only matters what the announcers are telling you who the best guys are and the fans are going to believe it.”
“There’s enough support (for a union) but these guys, outside of the cage or outside of the ropes, these guys are cowards, you know they would not dare stand up to the powers-that-be.”
“You only have a finite amount (of years) that you can compete and you want to make as much money as you can in that time and you don’t want to mess around with the politics of the sport.”
If you get a chance, go listen to the interview with Eddie Goldman and Matt Lindland. It is well-worth your time.