While winning a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics was certainly a big challenge in itself for Matt Lindland, coaching a team and fighting Jeremy Horn all in the same night will at least be Lindland’s biggest MMA challenge to date…
The Oregon native earned his spot on the Olympic wrestling medal podium the hard way, going to a community college before landing at the University of Nebraska and winning a 1993 Big 8 title. He then spent years with Team USA on the world circuit, culminating in a silver medal at 167 pounds in Greco-Roman competition in Sydney in 2000.
Now, well into a mixed martial arts career in which he’s long been ranked one of the world’s top middleweights, Lindland is taking on a new challenge: coaching an MMA team. Lindland’s Portland Wolfpack of the International Fight League debuts Saturday night at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, facing the Seattle Tigersharks in the first round of the 2006 World Team Championships, and he’ll face well-respected veteran Jeremy Horn in the Superfight main event.
“In some ways, this is nothing new,” said Lindland, one of the head trainers in the elite Team Quest camp in Gresham, OR. “A lot of this is stuff I’d be working on with the guys in the gym anyway. But the IFL is introducing the team concept to MMA, and it is really paying off in our training. There’s a real energy around the gym because everyone’s working toward the same goal. Usually, I’m working with one guy who’s getting ready to fight in Japan and one who’s going to New Jersey. But with everyone focused on fighting at home on Saturday, it is bringing out the best in us.”
Lindland can go a long way toward putting the IFL on the map Saturday. Lindland’s opponent, Horn, who once defeated Chuck Liddell, is one of the smartest fighters in the game, and the matchup of his jiu-jitsu and Lindland’s wrestling makes an intruiging matchup for ground fighting fans.
“It’s going to be brutality,” said Lindland. “I promise you that. Everyone knows Jeremy can bring it and everyone knows I can bring it. I’m going to take it to him, so I hope he’s ready.”
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