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3/21/13 9:37 AM
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This is number twenty-three in Jack Brown’s series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and for this particular interview, we’re honored to feature Olympic wrestler and MMA fighter, Matt Lindland.  Lindland was able to successfully transition from a dominant wrestler to a dominant MMA fighter.  He fought a who’s who of fighters across multiple weight classes in multiple organizations.  He has wins over Phil Baroni, Pat Miletich, Jeremy Horn, and Carlos Newton.  He also founded the legendary Team Quest.  Please enjoy our conversation below.

Jack Brown: What made you decide to start wrestling when you were young, and what enabled you to progress to such a high level?

Matt Lindland: I have talked about this a few times and recently wrote a blog on this topic.

JB: You had an amazing wrestling career that included winning a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.  Were the Olympics in 2000 the high point of your years of wrestling or were there other achievements in wrestling that equaled or surpassed that for you?

ML: Thank you.  I put a lot of time and effort into my training.  In wrestling, the Olympics are every four years, and in between are the world championships.  The world championships are actually tougher tournaments because every country can send an athlete, unlike the Olympics where each country has to qualify someone in the weight for that country.  In 2001, I made the world team, up a weight class from where I competed at the Olympics, and won a silver medal that year.  My wrestling career was never really about winning titles and medals.  It was more about the journey.

JB: Your first professional MMA fight was back in 1997. What do you recall about that TKO victory in the World Fighting Federation?

ML: There is actually a lot I recall from that fight and the whole experience.  The most significant thing was the fact that I earned a TKO and the opponent complained about the stoppage.  So I sent him back to his corner and told the referee to restart the bout.  I too was disappointed the bout was stopped by TKO and wanted to get more ring experience in.  I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I was having fun and wanted to keep doing it.  I also realized then that fighting would distract me from my wrestling goals, so I put it on hold until after the Olympics.

JB: You founded Team Quest and trained with and coached numerous fellow legends of MMA there.  How would you characterize the development of Team Quest over its first ten years? 

ML: The early days of training there were like experiments.  We would try things out and see what worked.   We also sought out many of the best trainers that are still in the business today, guys like John Hackelman, Liborio, Rico, Matt Hume, to name a few.  We brought in guys that had intimate knowledge of combat in areas that I did not possess yet.  It was an opportunity to coach many good fighters, and even some great fighters, and of course a lot of great wrestlers as well.

JB: You were an undefeated 7-0 as a professional MMA fighter before your first loss, at UFC 37 in 2002, in a championship fight against Murilo Bustamante.  How did that loss affect you at the time and what did you learn from that fight?

ML: You learn from every fight.  The biggest lesson I learned from that fight was that with some illnesses you might not want to try and tough them out.   As an elite competitor, you always think your mind can overcome all ailments.  Sometimes it’s also important to trust medical experts.  You live and learn, and it was an experience that I can share with my students now.

JB: You had an excellent record of 9-3 during your time in the UFC.  What were your most memorable and most satisfying UFC fights?

ML: All my fights were satisfying.  It was more about the journey, the experiences and the training.  Those are what I recall as my best memories.  That was a time when the sport was simple and pure, before money, fame, and power got involved.  A little bit of fame and a little bit of money can really change some people.  I like to focus on the friends I made and relationships I built while training and experiencing the sport of MMA.

JB: You fought for several organizations after your time fighting in the UFC had ended.  What was the highlight of fighting in the IFL, Affliction, Strikeforce, and other promotions, and do you have any regrets about never having returned to the UFC?

ML: Outside of the UFC, I got the opportunity to fight many of the greatest fighters: Carlos Newton, Mike Van Arsdale, Jeremy Horn, Fedor.  What is there to regret?  I have always lived my life as a free man.  No one has ever controlled me or told me how to behave.  Everyone questions the decisions we make, but we can only make a decision based on the available information at the time of the decision.

JB: You have had the opportunity to get to know, or to closely observe, so many MMA fighters over the years.  Who are a few that stood out the most and who you truly admired?

ML: Being a fighter is just a job.  It’s not who you are.  I can’t say that there are any fighters out there that I admire.  There are some people out there that happen to be fighters that I admire.  It’s about building friendships and relationships.

JB: Last question, Matt, and it has been an honor.  You have achieved so much in both wrestling and MMA, yet you are still a relatively young man at the age of 42.  What plans or goals do you have for the future?
ML: I have a lot of goals and aspirations.  I was recently selected as the head coach for the 2013 Greco-Roman world team.  Having the ability to teach, share, and give back to wrestlers and aspiring fighters has always been a passion of mine.  I started a blog where I write and give away content, and I plan to offer more content, including videos, www.coachmattlindland.com.   I’m also continuing with my gym and expanding the business, www.tqmma.com.  I want to see every child spend some time learning martial arts.  And I’m also developing my underwear company, www.dirtyboxer.com.


Thank you so much for reading and please follow @mattlindland and @jackjohnbrown on Twitter.  You can also check out jackjohnbrownmma on Facebook for all of Jack’s past interviews and blogs.

Special thanks to @KirikJenness for @theUG

Previous interviews:
Phil Baroni
Bruce Buffer
Daron Cruickshank
Marcus Davis
Mike DolceDiet

Dan Hardy

Bec Hyatt
Julie Kedzie
Dany Lauzon
Joe Lauzon
Tom Lawlor
Chris Leben
War Machine
Rose Namajunas
Vanessa Porto
Joe Proctor
Bobby Razak
Bas Rutten

Tarec Saffiedine
Jimmy Smith
James Thompson


3/21/13 11:51 AM
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Hemlock
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"pure"? No.

Just more about the best way to win a fight.

UFC is an entertainment product, not anything tied to a mystical martial art notion of honing your craft. It's business, and by strict business definitions MMA is better now than it ever was.

3/21/13 12:06 PM
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Steve4192
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KingofBJJ - MMA was pure when it was still single day tournaments.

Agreed

I still love modern MMA, but there was something visceral about those early events that you don't get in the current version.
3/21/13 12:09 PM
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Lobo8
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Its prize fighting now and it was prize fighting back then albeit for less money. If you want to be part of something pure then get in to regular martial arts.
3/21/13 12:24 PM
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Rabid Bunyip
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I'm not used to seeing Lindland conscious Phone Post
3/21/13 1:30 PM
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Chiron
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I remember back when Matt Lindland was considered boring and criticized for being too conservative, much like Pat Miletich and Tim Sylvia, but to a greater degree. Yet all of those guys were better finishers than the conservative fighters of today. There's even talk Lindland was basically kicked out of the org for it. Lindland finished in 44% of his UFC wins, Miletch 63%, and Sylvia 64% compared to GSP's 39% and Fitch's 29%. Looking at all of their wins in and outside the UFC, the discrepancy grows even more. Lindland wouldn't be considered such a conservative fighter by today's standards, but the sport has become too distorted and focused too much on points. Not the biggest fan of Lindland but he has my respect as a fighter.
3/21/13 1:33 PM
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Altofsky
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A cheat talking about purity? Love it.

3/21/13 1:34 PM
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GloverRampagedMyBrownEye
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Pure shit, IMHO. Phone Post
3/21/13 1:34 PM
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GloverRampagedMyBrownEye
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Altofsky -

A cheat talking about purity? Love it.

And this Phone Post
3/21/13 1:34 PM
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Grantman
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Lindland was old school and an under appreciated fighter in his time. I enjoy his interviews and his trash talk against Baroni/JT taylor was the stuff of legend.

I still say he beat Rampage in WEC
3/21/13 1:37 PM
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Hemlock
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Grantman - Lindland was old school and an under appreciated fighter in his time. I enjoy his interviews and his trash talk against Baroni/JT taylor was the stuff of legend.

I still say he beat Rampage in WEC

I have always said the same. Rampage should have lost that fight.
3/21/13 9:52 PM
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Hammerfister
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Lindland is one-of-a-kind.
THANKS, Matt
-Jack Phone Post
3/21/13 10:50 PM
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Dana Stern
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MMA was fun and special back then, a sub-culture, but it's much better today do the high level of skill and how well rounded all the fighters are. Plus we get to see so many events for free and big PPV's. It's just cool how far things have come. Phone Post
3/21/13 11:22 PM
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Dana Stern
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I believe ZUFFA truly loves and cares for MMA/UFC as much as anybody and wants to keep the integrity and purity intact as much as possible. I also think they really do strive to keep at headed in the direction as a sport over spectacle or wacky entertainment. It was really that thinking to work with the commissions and legitimize it as much as possible that has made it so popular. It is still a business and it is still prizefighting so there will always be some decisions made that are unavoidable to keep things profitable up and running. I think some of the complaints come about it not being a sport when fighters who aren't necessarily ranked next or deserving get title shots, etc do to it being a higher selling or more popular fight. That's one of those business decisions but also having owners and matchmakers as fans decisions. For example who didn't want to see the GSP vs Diaz fight over Hendricks? Diaz didn't deserve it or earn it in reality but it was a fight that fans would much rather seen plus it sold a hell of a lot more then GSP vs Hendricks would have. I believe they get it right more then not and that's why they are so successful. Phone Post

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