Lindland, running as a conservative republican, recently launched his campaign, which you can find out more about at MattForOregon.com. In the meantime, Lindland was kind enough to take out for an exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com.
During the interview, Lindland was very candid on his thoughts about the state of Oregon; the IFL’s current direction; and his appraisal of the MMA media that included some intriguing allegations regarding UFC president Dana White and his behavior towards members of the media.
The full transcript of our one-on-one interview with Lindland is available below.
Sam Caplan: By now, I think everyone is aware you are running for State Representative in House District 52 in Oregon. What was the catalyst for getting involved in politics?
Matt Lindland: I’m a native Oregonian and I see our state going in the wrong direction, and I have been for quite some time. Both houses are controlled by the democrats right now and the incumbent in our district stepped down; she decided not to run. So I filed.
Sam Caplan: Have you received any endorsements?
Matt Lindland: Yes, I have. I have received endorsements from the Conservative Majority Project; the Oregonian; Right to Life; and the Taxpayers Association.
Sam Caplan: One of the bigger challenges for a politician is financing a campaign. You mention at your website, MattForOregon.com, that your opponents is receiving lobbyist money. It seems like you’ll be relying on the people to finance your campaign, as opposed to the corporations. How has fundraising gone so far?
Matt Lindland: It’s going good. I haven’t check on our totals the last few days, I was actually in Las Vegas for U.S. Open Greco Roman National Tournament and I got back yesterday, and I had a Hall of Fame banquet that a couple of our coaches were inducted into. So I haven’t checked in two days but previously I had more money raised than she did by just doing the grassroots thing; going out and knocking on doors and trying to get some money in order to finance this campaign.
Sam Caplan: If people want to support your campaign, all they need to do is go to MattForOregon.com?
Matt Lindland: Yes, that would be the right way to do it. And we’ve received a few donations online from out-of-state and I would suspect they are from conservative MMA fans. I’ve probably polarized half of my audience running for office, but that’s okay because I know who I am. I know I stand for and what I believe in. That’s the way politics are.
Sam Caplan: You revealed to HDNet’s Ron Kruck during a recent Sportfight telecast that your next fight will be for Affliction in July. At the time, you weren’t sure about an opponent. Has there been any movement in regards to who you will be fighting?
Matt Lindland: No, they haven’t. I know of at least three individuals who have turned down the fight. I don’t know how many others they’ve talked to that weren’t even in the running but I know of at least three people that have turned it down that would have been good opponents.
Sam Caplan: Can you comment on any of the names of the fighters who turned the fight down?
Matt Lindland: Eh, it doesn’t matter.
Sam Caplan: There were rumors you might be fighting Frank Trigg on that show. Was there any truth to those rumors?
Matt Lindland: I don’t think there was ever any truth to them. Frank Trigg and I are pretty good friends and he’s always told me that he thinks he’s a welterweight. And I agree, I think he’s a welterweight. He’s done good recently at the middleweight division but my assessment is that Frank is a welterweight.
Sam Caplan: When Affliction was recruiting you as a fighter, did they go into detail about their MMA plans?
Matt Lindland: Yeah, but things have kind of changed, to tell you the truth. There were some other people that were originally going to be involved; there were some big names behind it. I don’t know, but I think right now those things have changed.
Sam Caplan: Have you gotten any sort of indication of what caused things to change?
Matt Lindland: You know, everybody has got their side of the story. I’m just fighting. This isn’t my organization; I’m not running it. I will support them any way I can as one of their athletes. But no, I honestly don’t really know. I’m into enough politics right now that I don’t need to get into the politics of the sport and these organizations that are battling against each other.
Sam Caplan: Four of your fighters, Ryan Schultz, Matt Horwich, Zach George, and Aaron Stark will all be on the IFL’s next show on May 16. However, it doesn’t appear they will be using a camp vs. camp format for the show. Have they told you whether they plan to retain the camp concept?
Matt Lindland: I don’t know, they keep changing what they’re doing. They keep spending money and not recouping any money. I don’t know what they’re doing. Every show they expect us to be able to keep up with what they’re doing and with every show they change the way they’re operating, they change their structure, they change how the guys are getting their sponsors… A year ago everybody was getting a salary and was supposed to get healthcare and they were paying for our medicals. As of late they’re just like any other promotion company. They’re trying to figure out how to do this and they’re not doing it right in my opinion. I don’t know. I think they need some changes and they just keep making them. They make so many changes I can’t even keep up with what they’re doing right now.
Sam Caplan: There are a lot of rumors that the IFL won’t be able to survive long-term. From your perspective do you think the IFL will be around much longer?
Matt Lindland: I don’t know. I don’t wish anybody… I wish all of these organizations stayed around longer and paid the athletes and provide more venues for guys to fight in. I’m all about free market and guys doing things but if they’re not going to put out a good product, people aren’t going to buy it. That’s the problem. They need to put out a good product and then market it and promote it and run it like a business.
It’s a tough business, I’m a promoter. I know how hard it is (and) what they’re doing. (But) I don’t understand the whole going public thing. It seems like every MMA company out there that’s tried to go public hasn’t been successful. But I don’t know what their long-term plans are but I’m not going to speculate.
Sam Caplan: When’s the next Sportfight card, and have any matchups been finalized?
Matt Lindland: June 20 and our co-main events have both been finalized. Michael Pierce, our current welterweight champion is defending his title against Nathan Coy out of our gym. It’ll be a heated battle.
Before Michael turned professional he used to train over at Team Quest. He wasn’t getting the love and attention he needed over there so he moved to another gym and has had some success. He took the title away from our champion, Ed Nuno, who is a pretty good fighter. But Michael is a solid wrestler and he was able to take that fight down and control position. He won the wrestling match, but we didn’t see much of a fight out of him. But he’s a tough guy. He’s very talented.
Nathan Coy is from Park Grove, right here. Both of these guys grew up wrestling. They ended up competing at high schools 15-20 minutes away from each other. Nathan went on and was an All-American at Oregon State and Michael went on to wrestle at Portland State. Both of them were very good collegiate wrestlers here in the state of Oregon and both of them have become good fighters. So this is a big battle for these two guys.
We’ve also got our (heavyweight) champion, Josh Queen, out of the Lion’s Den in Idaho. (He) trains with (Trevor) Prangley out there. He’s going to defend against another Team Quest guy, Josh Bennett. Josh has been undefeated in the Sportfight ring as a heavyweight.
Sam Caplan: Your past two shows have been shown on HDNet and I assume this one will be shown on HDNet as well?
Matt Lindland: Yes, June 20. Tickets are going to go on sale on Friday, May 9, 10 a.m. There will be a pre-sale on Wednesday, May 7 and Thursday, May 8. Go to ComcastTix.com for tickets.
Sam Caplan: UFC president Dana White continues to make the public case that Anderson Silva is the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Do you agree with his assessment?
Matt Lindland: He said that but what do all the rankings say? Is Fedor still the top pound-for-pound guy?
Sam Caplan: I would say that at this point that most of the rankings I’ve seen agree with Dana White. Anderson Silva is ranked number one in most with Georges St. Pierre ranked ahead of him in a couple.
Matt Lindland: The MMA media almost always agrees with whatever Dana says. There’s a lot of media out there that just cow tow to him so that they can get their credentials, or whatever. The MMA media is not journalistically prudent. They don’t do much research; they’re lazy. They don’t do their own stories. They go out and take stories from other people and make up their own. I don’t have a lot of respect for too many people in the media and the MMA media industry. They pretty much promote Dana White.
And even outside of MMA, honestly, I’ve had major publications want to do stories on me (and) when Dana White finds out they want to write about a legitimate athlete who is a world and Olympic-caliber medalist that is now fighting MMA, he’ll get in there and make sure that if they want to get credentials to anymore shows or they want access to any UFC fighters that they don’t do an article about me. (Laughs) Me, I’m not really impressed with the MMA media or the media in general.
Sam Caplan: So you’re saying you’ve been in situations where Dana White has essentially strong armed writers and journalists into not covering non-UFC stories?
Matt Lindland: Yes.
Sam Caplan: Have you ever confronted journalists on that? Have you ever asked them why they felt a need to cow tow?
Matt Lindland: The writers and editors won’t admit it. The writers have told me — the writers with integrity out there that are trying to get the story out there and get the facts out there.