The UFC’s Middleweight division has had a rough time getting support in the last few months. Anderson Silva single handedly destroyed the competition by defeating Travis Lutter, former Pancrase champion Nathan Marquardt, and UFC champion Rich Franklin twice to clear out a division that long needed some competition. Competition is exactly what they got, but the UFC may not have anticipated the complete and utter domination of the upper-echelon of Middleweights. Flash to present day, we see a perceived impossibility of defeating the current champion, Anderson Silva. Of course, the UFC is now trying to remedy the problem of a stagnant division by convincing former PRIDE Middleweight and Welterweight champion Dan Henderson to drop down in weight to fight “The Spider”.
The great matchup between the Greco-Roman wrestler with heavy hands and the well-rounded, destructive striking with a black belt in jiu-jitsu seems like a classic matchup that could turn into a nuclear war. Great ground skills from both competitors, and both combatants have proved that their striking can end a fight with one precision blow like a cruise missile. After this battle of two great fighters, we will either continue to have a stale Middleweight division of competitors that can’t give Silva a run for his money, or we will crown a new champion and set up a trail of fights for Silva to regain a title fight. A picture that is reminiscent of Rich Franklin situation since his first defeat.
Matt “The Law” Lindland enters the picture
The recent news that Matt Lindland had entered talks with Dana White in the UFC was no surprise to fans that have been following the promotion. Lindland, after all, could be a solution in terms of challenging the Middleweight champion. The combination of his Greco-Roman wrestling, strong clinchwork, and some of the best top control that the MMA world has seen would definitely cause a stir in Silva’s mind as to how he could end the fight quickly.
There have been “knocks” on Lindland’s skills in the past. Top control styles haven’t been globally accepted as the most exciting way to win a fight. People boo’ed Sean Sherk’s performance over Hermes Franca, and fans have done the same to Lindland’s style as well. As we’ve seen from the typical matchups that the UFC puts together, matching up styles that don’t seem to scream excitement are usually non-existent until a title fight or a contender battle. It is in the best interest of the UFC to keep those fights under wraps until there seems to be a need for them.
Obstacles between the UFC and Lindland
A few obstacles are making this type of deal seem unlikely, and there are many news sources indicating that same sentiments. First, Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland are very good friends and training partners. Both fighters are also of the same type of style with the only difference being in Henderson’s powerful hands. Not only will they most likely avoid fighting each other if Henderson happens to defeat Silva and take the crown, but both fighters may counter each other’s styles into a back and forth boring ground fight.
It’s unfortunate because Lindland’s style can counter that of an aggressively striking Anderson Silva. Not only does Lindland’s clinchwork and takedown abilities hurt Silva’s counter to it, but it could be a problem for Silva in stopping Lindland’s top control.
There is, however, one more issue that always seems to rear its ugly head when talk of Matt Lindland comes up. The feud between Dana White and Matt Lindland is the key reason why talks have never begun before this stage of degradation in the Middleweight division. Rumors all over the MMA community have surfaced over the past few years regarding the feud. An incident in which Lindland didn’t wear a certain sponsored shirt after fight was rumored to begin the feud. Whether or not that is the truth hasn’t completely materialized in the media. The obvious choice would be the IFL’s courtship of Lindland to coach a team in the IFL, a problem that Dana White has had with other UFC veterans such as Pat Miletich. Whatever the reason is, Lindland also has the problem of being inactive and asking for a significantly large salary because of his status in world rankings.
Will we see “The Law” in the UFC?
Unless the UFC and Lindland can get past the issues regarding the future matchups for Lindland, his asking price, their feud, and the fact that one of his best friends and training partners may actually reign atop the Middleweight division, the UFC may not have a need for Lindland’s services. Look for Lindland to continue sitting outside the UFC looking in until there is a significant swing in the title picture. It may be worth another look if Silva defeats Henderson, but for now, Lindland is only a pipe dream.
If we do see Lindland in the UFC, it will be a miraculous turn of events by Dana White and the UFC. It will be interesting to see how they plan to fit him into the division.