Few people in MMA carry respect like Matt Lindland.
The Olympic silver medallist will forever embody the grinding work ethic that saw him achieve a 22-9 record, fight all over the world and defeat a plethora of tough guys along the way.
It’s an attitude that certainly doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon, as a recent bout against Polish destroyer Mamed Khalidov indicated, but at present “The Law” certainly has a lot of other avenues.
In just over a week’s time Sportfight, promoted by Lindland and company, will deliver yet another action packed card from Mount Hood Community College in Portland, Oregon.
MMAHQ caught up with Matt has he spoke about the final preparations for SportFight 30 and the growth of the organization.
Matt it’s a pleasure to talk thanks for taking the time this close to SportFight 30. How is the lead up to the show going?
Oh it’s real good I mean, this is the first event we’re doing with Takedown and we’re real excited to be partnered up with them and doing what we’re doing. This is an incredible business model and the way that mma should be delivered. There should be a big separation between the promoter and the broadcasting partner.
How important do you think Takedown is for Sportfight? Do you think that it’s the platform to push the promotion to the next level?
Of course I do because this is the model that every promoter should be looking at.
The real question for everyone putting on a show is how do I get it to the next level? They need to fill venues and sell it to a broadcast partner so instead of going to a broadcast partner with a show that you can put on four or five times a year; Takedown are going to put on over thirty shows a year.
The networks are crying out for consistency and a storyline and something that they can rely on week in and week out and you can’t do that with one promoter. Even the UFC can’t put on shows week in week out. They can put on a lot of them but they can’t put on a weekly show like a Friday night fights type of thing.
What Takedown do best is let the promoters do their job and focus on putting great fights while they concentrate on the aggregation and distribution. They’re going to film the fights and make a television show on a consistent weekly basis. It’s going to be like American Idol for fighting.
It sounds everything is moving in the right direction. When you first looked at promoting the event did you think that you’d still be doing it this many years down the line?
Well you know I never honestly thought about the future of this event when we first started putting it on.
The reason we first started doing it back in the day was because at that time you had guys like Randy, me, Dan Henderson fighting under the Team Quest banner and anyone that was coming out of our gym was assumed to be this great wrestler that nobody wanted to get matched up with.
We put events on to try and get our guys exposure and experience. Chris Leben, Ed Herman and lots of other guys have come through our gym and we needed to get them fights and to get them exposure.
It’s obvious that it’s come quite a way in that time and if you look at the main event of this card it obviously reflects this. Paul Kelly vs. Ryan Healy is a great fight; how do you see it happening?
It’s a great fight because both of these guys are guys that go out there and fight and love to fight. I’ve never seen Ryan Healy in a boring fight whether he wins or loses, he’s going to put on an exciting performance to the last bell and Paul Kelly’s that same kind of guy.
He’s known as a ground and pounder but he’ll swing hard and try and knock people out.
You’ve also got a great potential clash between Mario Miranda and Aaron Stark as co-main event. Miranda’s a very dangerous 185 pounder; do you think he’ll take this one?
I see that one working mainly on the feet. You’ve got two great wrestlers but with different styles in South American wrestling and American wrestling with great takedowns.
They can both box but when you get two guys like this with great levels of wrestling there’s a very good chance that they’ll nullify each others wrestling and stand up with each other. They’ll end up standing up and putting on an exciting boxing match with four ounce gloves.
Your card also features an amateur section of the card to begin the proceedings. How important do you think this is for the development of the sport?
In the United States every commission has different rules with what you can and can’t do. Some states don’t allow amateurs to fight on pro cards and vice versa. One of the nice things about the Oregon commission is that they do allow us to put the amateurs on there with pro fights.
These aren’t amateurs; in other states I’ve had guys who’ve bought fighters to our show like Jeremy Horn and Monte Cox and managers who bring guys out to our show and they look at the level of these guys and say that in any other state those guys would be professionals.
They’re like lower level professional fighters so we’re the cream of the crop in SportFight. We’re not taking guys who’re training in a garage and don’t have a coach; we’re taking guys who are putting the time in with great camps. These guys want to be professionals and this is the next step for them.
I imagine, with different commissions, there must be a lot of different amateur rule sets from state to state. What specifics do you adhere to at SportFight?
We have a fairly standard rule set. The only difference is that we don’t allow elbows to the head so it’s basically like the old Strikeforce rules. These guys are putting it out there with four ounce gloves on and they can use all the techniques available apart from those elbows.
So, looking specifically at promoting fights, is there one element that stands out for you more than others?
I really enjoy seeing athletes out of our gym perform in front of their hometown crowd because it’s rare you get to do that in a career. They get to fight and perform in front of their families, friends and training partners here in Oregon which is exciting and a really good feeling.
Ok one last question if I may then; I’m sorry if it’s a bit out of left field but I’d really like to get your take on this. Do you think Anderson Silva takes the Superbowl weekend fight with Chael Sonnen?
Haha. Anderson will to find a way to weasel out of that fight. I don’t know what his contractual obligations are as far as who he has to fight as a champion but they’re already laying the ground work; I mean look at the article that came out this morning on Bloody Elbow.
His manager Ed Soares is already making excuses for Anderson to not take that fight so yeah I think they’re going to try to weasel out of it. I don’t know what his obligations are contractually to the UFC but his obligations to the fans are that he needs to take that fight.
Everyone of the fans know that Chael’s the number one contender and the guy that has a chance of beating him, can beat him and exposed his weaknesses in that fight. The fans want to see that fight and Anderson owes the fans that fight.
Thanks again for the time Matt. It’s been a pleasure and the best of luck with the show.