When an average fan thinks of Matt Lindland, chances are the image associated with “The Law” involves little more than a decorated wrestler with no discernable stand-up skills who prefers to keep things on the ground as a result. However, the Olympic silver medalist has actually finished more than twice as many opponents as he’s beaten by way of decision including seven wins by way of TKO.
Lindland recently took time to speak during a recent conference call with media about the importance of his upcoming bout at “Strikeforce – Henderson vs. Babalu” against Robbie Lawler, as well as expressed why he feels his striking is underrated and the reason he’s continued to evolve in MMA even at age 40.
“You lose and then you have to figure out why it happened and how you are going to improve, and that’s what I’ve done,” said Lindland. “If you lose and stay the same then you are not a smart fighter and should not be in this sport. After a loss I feel like I come back stronger from working on the aspects that were a part of my loss. I don’t want to talk about the little things – just know I trained hard and changed those aspects…I just want to fight and compete against the best.”
Though the middleweight is coming off a third-round TKO win over Kevin Casey at a Strikeforce Challengers event this past May, Lindland was coming off back-to-back losses entering the bout. As far as his opponent this weekend, Lindland made it clear he wasn’t as concerned about the implications a win over Lawler might have on his future when compared to his desire to make the scrap an entertaining one.
“I think all fights have the same amount of pressure, especially when you are playing at this caliber and fighting either a top contender or a champion or a former champion. It’s not necessarily about who wins or loses, it’s about putting on a good performance and fighting,” explained the Team Quest original before offering a blunt prediction on the outcome.
“I have never seen Robbie in a fight that wasn’t exciting, so I don’t plan on this being any different. I am looking forward to going out there and performing and kicking the sh*t out of Robbie,” he continued.
Lindland also made it clear his plans for victory don’t necessarily include a submission when omitted from a question relating to knockouts, saying, “I am a little insulted because I have knocked some people out and the last guy I knocked out was Robbie’s teammate, Jeremy Horn, when I kicked him in the head and then punched him with a straight left.”
Still, his grappling isn’t a weapon he won’t unsheathe when the time comes.
“I do enjoy the ground game a lot and it is a technical aspect of the game, and I think subs happen better when you punish guys and I do like to impose my will and punish a guy and have him make a mistake. I like to hook guys and make sure that everyone sees that that guy is tapping out, and submitting not just to me but in front of the world. When I drop a guy it is more surprising, because I haven’t had as many knockouts as these other three guys that you are talking about. They go in there looking for the big punch and when I go in there and hit a guy or clip him and take him out it is a little more surprising because it’s not as frequent.”
When asked about why he felt he had the advantage over Lawler, and would ultimately emerge victorious, Lindland credited his experience but stated the result would all come down to the individual most-able to impose his will on the other.
“I think I am a little more experienced, wiser. I wouldn’t argue with people who say he is athletic, he’s got speed, he’s got power. I am going to have to use superior positioning, conditioning and just knowledge of the sport and put him in positions he is not comfortable with….If I had my way I would put Robbie on his back and pound a hole in his head and I’m sure Robbie would like to try to keep it on his feet and put me to sleep standing up. I think it’s really about who can impose their will.”
Lindland is 22-7 in his career with notable wins over some of MMA’s former elite like Horn, Carlos Newton, and Pat Miletich. He’s also beaten notable opponents like Joe Doerksen, Ivan Salaverry, Travis Lutter, and Phil Baroni.
In addition to his match-up with Lawler, “Strikeforce – Henderson vs. Babalu” features a contendership-determining clash between the headlining light heavyweights (Dan Henderson/Renato Sobral), as well as welterweights Paul Daley and Scott Smith undoubtedly going toe-to-toe until one of the two falls.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE