Matt Lindland file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
When Matt Lindland is on, his style can torment opponents.
The 2000 Olympic silver medalist in wrestling has the ability to take down anyone and execute a stifling top game. That’s his plan for Robbie Lawler when the two meet in a Strikeforce bout Saturday in St. Louis.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and getting in his face, getting right on it, making this a really tough night on Robbie and making it the most miserable night he’s ever had,” Lindland said Wednesday during an interview on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show.
Both Lawler and Lindland are long-time veterans of the sport, though they’ve never fought each other. They did compete in the UFC at the same time early last decade. Lawler fought mostly as a welterweight while Lindland was a middleweight contender.
“Robbie’s a lot different fighter now,” Lindland said. “He’s a lot more cerebral fighter than he was before, but I think he still fights with that same heart and intensity. … Instead of him just going out there and swinging for the fences, looking for the big knockout, he’s taking a more intellectual approach to the sport. He’s going to set up things. He’s added his wrestling. He’s added his submissions. He’s become more of a well-rounded guy.”
There’s little debating that Lawler packs the power in the matchup, and Lindland is the superior wrestler. The bout could come down to Lawler’s ability to stay on his feet or, conversely, Lindland’s ability to take him down.
“I don’t think he has any holes in his game anywhere really,” Lindland said. “Of course it’s going to be a challenge. I’m not just going to walk in there and just take the guy down. All fights have to start on the feet. I’m going to have to navigate through the striking with him, close the distance. He’s got good sprawl and brawl. He gets off the bottom well. I’m going to have to make this a fight.”
The bout will be just the second for Lindland this year. In May he stopped Kevin Casey, which followed a disappointing 2009 that saw him lose to Vitor Belfort and Ronaldo Souza.
“I fight the top guys. I don’t know if anything went wrong necessarily,” Lindland said of his losses. “These guys are really good. I didn’t perform to the best. People want to talk about having two losses in a row, but I lost to the guy that became the champion and a guy that’s fighting for the championship in another organization. I don’t know if there’s much better guys out there.”
Lawler is another quality middleweight. A decisive win over him could put Lindland back in the title hunt at 185 and perhaps set up an eventual rematch with champion “Jacare.”
“I’m always looking to finish,” Lindland said. “I’m always looking to finish some way or another, whether it’s pounding him into submission or hooking him with a finish hold.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 59:30) with Lindland.