UFC veteran Matt Lindland is a fighter, Olympic wrestler and politician who has faced the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Phil Baroni, Quinton Jackson, Vitor Belfort and Ricardo Almedia.
Lindland has taken some time away from the sport to concentrate on his coaching commitments at Team Quest. He recently caught up with Fightline for an exclusive interview about his fighting career and his plans for the future.
Have you retired from fighting? If so, is your focus on coaching now?
I don’t know if you can retire from this sport, it’s just kind of in your blood. But my focus has definitely been coaching young fighters. We have a whole new young crop of talented athletic guys coming up. I have always enjoyed helping others achieve their goals, and now I have time to just focus on that right now.
What is your favorite memory from your fighting career?
Training with many of the greats in this sport. Throughout the years I have been blessed to have many of the best fighters in the world and my gym. I have also enjoyed traveling and being coached by great’s in the sport. Martial arts is not a destination, it’s a journey, and there is always something new to learn and a skill to improve
In your fight with Fedor Emelianenko, he grabbed the ring to prevent a takedown. Do you feel that had it not been for that, the result may have been different?
That’s part of the sport. Everyone saw the multiple rope grabs and the tight body lock I had. Had I got him to the ground, I might have had a good shot at getting the fight finished with the big cut. Who really knows? You can’t go back and say what is or I could have. It’s a fight and if you can get away with something like that, you use it to your advantage. There is a set of rules and the top guys in the sport use the rules to their advantage. I have no complaints.
Do you have any regrets about getting cut by the UFC for non-fighting reasons just as it was really starting to take off?
You are right, this was a non-fighting reason I was released from UFC to make room for the guys they wanted to promote. I did have a goal of being the UFC champion, but the UFC is as much a popularity contest as it is a fighting contest. If you want to be the champion in their organization, you have to play by their rules. The point of regret is not to live without it, but rather to learn to live with it and not hate ourselves for having regret. I never did reach the goal of being the UFC champion, but I also didn’t sacrifice my principles or integrity to achieve that goal.
Why did you decide to transition from wrestling to MMA?
[There are] many reasons I love combats sports. I achieved many of my goals in wrestling and wanted to start in sports, and MMA was such a new and exciting opportunity. I love to learn and grow, and MMA gave me so many new opportunities to learn and grow at a much more execrated pace than wrestling alone.
What effect do you think that the growth of MMA has had on the sport of wrestling?
I do believe wrestling has gained more exposure, but I wish USA wrestling would have embraced MMA earlier on rather than seeing it as a threat. It’s great to see diehard wrestling people come around and see MMA for what it is — just an extension of wrestling. It’s even more exciting to have a martial artist realize and embrace the fact that wrestling is one of the most functional and effective martial arts out there.
Are there any up and coming prospects that you are currently coaching that people should look out for?
Always keep an eye on Team Quest, we have a rich tradition of championship quality athletes and we will continue to produce top talent. We are looking forward to sending our athletes to compete in ONE FC.
How are you enjoying Thailand?
As you know, Team Quest is expanding globally and I did just return from my visit to our newest location in Chang Mai, Thailand. What an incredible gym and place to train. I wrote wrote a blog about my experience (link).
You were at ONE FC, what did you think of the show?
Amazing event, and it is just starting. The sky is the limit, I am looking forward to having Team Quest represented at ONE FC and coming back to corner my athletes