Matt Lindland: I have always encouraged Chael to be honest and speak from the heart (Exclusive Interview)
Matt Lindland has been in the fight game for almost over nine years. He has wrestled for the United States at the highest level and as a MMA fighter he has fought for every major promotion to date. Aside from being an accomplished fighter, he is also a world renowned coach for the famous Team Quest fight team, entrepreneur (Dirty Boxer performance apparel), Republican, and promoter for Sport Fight (which he founded with Randy Couture). You could even argue that Matt Lindland is one of the busiest men in the Mixed Martial Arts world. Matt Lindland’s Fight Sport has recently teamed up with Takedown Fight Media for Sport Fight 30: Limitless which is going down tonight in the Pacific Northwest.
The man simply known as “The Law” takes some time out of his busy schedule to talk about his humble beginnings, the growth of Team Quest, Chael Sonnen, gives travel tips to people interested in going on vacation, and much more. This is an interview you Lowkick’ers out there can’t afford not to read!
You’ve spent a big part of your life wrestling for your country on the highest level. How did you make the transition from world class wrestler to MMA fighter?
Easy, MMA is the natural progression of wrestling. Wrestling is a particular style of fighting with a certain set of rules. MMA is a different set of rules. It’s all fighting. Angle, positioning, movement, ranges, techniques and tactics. When you put as many hours as I have into training and coaching you start to understand it’s all the same. People who don’t put the kind of hours into martial arts training only notice the difference, not the similarities.
Team Quest is one of MMA’s most prestigious camps. You have locations all over the west coast and now are expanding to Thailand. When you first helped start up the team, back in 1999 did you ever envision this kind of growth?
I had no idea of how fast we’d grow when we started out in MMA. I threw some mats down in a garage in the back of my car lot so I had a place to train. As the sport grew I realized that there were a lot of people that wanted to learn how to fight. Guys started coming into the garage asking if they could train and if we would teach them. I have been a coach for years so it was pretty natural that I could teach. When you do this day in day out you forget that at one time you had no idea the amount of time it would take to learn, and perfect something that seems like such a simple concept.
Speaking of Team Quest, one of the most well-known and talked about fighters in the world today is Chael Sonnen. When he doesn’t have a mic in front of his face, for fans that don’t know, what is he like as a person? Aside from mentoring him to be a world class fighter did you help teach him in the ways of trash talk and selling fights?
Funny you say that Chael trash talks. I know that speaking the truth and being authentic seems like such a foreign concept in this day and age. Truth is the new hate speech. Our society is filled with so many fakes and phony’s that when someone just comes out and speaks what’s on their mind and expels truth it sounds like trash talk. Yes, I have always encouraged Chael to be honest and speak from the heart. Chael as a person is one of the nicest, most decent people I know. After 17 years of being his coach he is still someone I want to work with and a man I admire for his character and integrity.
You’ve been in the fight game for about 14 years now. How different is the landscape back in 1997 compared to today?
Night and day different in terms of the level of fighters skill and talent wise. There are so many top notch, world class fighters these days. It’s funny though how MMA is such a pop cultural phenomenon when in fact this is what men where created to do. Men have been fighting since the beginning of time. MMA is just a new set of rules that we as a society has deemed are acceptable for this time in history. I am not surprised that men want to watch other men do what they are afraid to do. Step up and face conflict. Too many people let fear control there lives and their actions.
The last time most North American fans have seen you was your bout last December against Robbie Lawler and you had a fight last May for KSW. When should we expect to see “The Law” fight once again?
I assume it will be early 2012. I am a prize fighter and I am looking at offers based on the prize. I have a contract in front of me that looks fantastic.
Now the reason for this interview, the promotion you helped create in the Pacific Northwest “Sport Fight” has teamed up with Takedown for SportFight 30: Limitless. Could you tell us more about this up coming event Matt and how fans can watch the fights tonight?
Thank you for covering our event – SF 30:Limitless is at Mt Hood Community College this Saturday Oct 22, doors open at 6 and fights start at 7. We are working together with our new media partner Takedown and I’m really proud that they have chosen our event to film their TV pilot.
Takedown has a clear business model that works and I’m really happy to be on board with them as an advisor. The concept is simple; film, produce and package the best MMA fights from around the world, aggregate them into series and distribute these series to TV networks and digital platforms. No one promotion bar UFC has the resources to put on fights week in, week out, and that’s what the Networks want. Takedown acts as a compliment to promotions – it’s going to put International independent promotions on the map and give fans a chance to see the fights they want to see. They’re seen as the ‘New Face of MMA’ and I really believe that this is the next big concept in MMA.
I’ve asked you a lot of serious questions, now I’d like to ask you some fun ones. If you weren’t an MMA fighter, what would you be doing today?
I would be a cowboy. Enough said.
When you’re not fighting or in the corner of a fighter, what do you like to do on your spare time?
I am a family man and I spend time with my amazing wife Angie and my two other favorite people in the world; my son James and my daughter Robin. You might run into me on a river or stream running class V white water or pulling in a nice Stealhead.
You’ve fought all over the world as a mixed martial artist and wrestler, where in your opinion is the best place to travel to?
No question – the best place in the world to travel to is Cuba and the worst place on the planet is Egypt.
Thanks for your time Matt! It is greatly appreciated and all the best with your up coming event Sport Fight 30: Limitless. Would you like to make any shout outs in closing?
Follow The Law @mattlindland on twitter and of course see the full fight card at sportfight.tv. Also my gym is tqmma.com and check out DirtyBoxer.com. You can follow all the latest developments with Takedown @TakedownFights.