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the initial winner of the Olympic Trials. The case included arbi- tration, a re-wrestled match, and actions that went to the highest levels of the U.S. legal system. It was Lindland who ended up on the mats.

Lindland put together a great tournament in Sydney, stringing together his best event to date. He opened with wins over Tarieli Melashvili of Georgia, Kader Slila of Algeria and Evgeniy Erofaylov of Uzbekistan to win his pool. Next was a quarterfinals win over Genadi Chkhaidze of Georgia, 2-0 in overtime. In the semifinals, he defeated Armenia’s David Manukyan, 7-4, with a three-point lift and throw in the second period making the differ- ence. He was defeated in a close finals bout by Russia’s Murat Kardanov, 3-0 to finish with a silver medal. “Second place is the worst. You know you lose at the end. Sometimes, maybe a bronze medal feels better. The outcome wasn’t so much fun for me,” he said.

His most memorable experience from the Games included help from one of his wrestling buddies.

“Chris Saba and Kevin Bracken were my best friends, and Kevin made the Olympic team but Chris did not. Chris got to Sydney early and found an apartment a block away from the arena. We didn’t have to leave and rested at Chris’ apartment. Chris did whatever he could do to help us. That will stick with me forever. It meant a lot to me that he did that for us,” said Lindland.

When the Olympics were over, Lindland had already decided to get involved in mixed martial arts (MMA), which was just gaining momentum as a professional sport. However, he heard that the 2001 World Championships were scheduled for New York City, so he decided to take another shot at wrestling. “I decided I wasn’t going to cut weight. After the Olympics, I decided I was going to have fun that year, and it was one of my fondest wrestling memories. I wanted to win a World title and do it at home,” said Lindland.

Lindland moved up to 85 kg/187 lbs. and had to beat top

stars like Dan Henderson, Quincey Clark and Ethan Bosch to make the U.S. team at the weight class, which he achieved. However, his chance to win on American soil was taken away after the September 11 terrorist attack on New York. The event was just days after that, and ultimately was postponed and moved to other cities. The Greco-Roman Worlds went to Patras, Greece in December. “They moved the Worlds back three months. I refocused, worked hard through another training camp and competed. I ended up having fun at that weight class,” he said. Like the Olympics, Lindland won his pool competition to advance to the quarterfinals, where he beat one of his Olympic opponents, Erofaylov of Uzbekistan. In the semifinals, he took out the Russian competitive, Alexander Menshikov, by a 5-2 margin.

He was beaten in the finals by Mukhran Vakhrangadze of Georgia in the finals, 2-1 in overtime, taking the silver and falling just short of his goal. The U.S. team finished a strong third in the team standings as well.

Lindland quickly put the same intensity and focus into his new

MMA career and found immediate success. “It felt natural to me. There was a lot I had to learn and I didn’t have a bunch of time. I had already mastered one aspect of the sport with my wrestling. In fights, I wanted to be aggressive on the feet and get him to the ground. I tried to avoid submissions and picked up some striking skills,” said Lindland. Looking back on his competitive MMA career, there were a few of his bouts which stand out in his mind. “Early on, when I fought Pat Miletich, a past World champion,

Lindland won a Greco-Roman silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

I took him out in one round. It showed me where I was in the sport. There were the two matches with Phil Baroni, which were entertaining and high profile events,” said Lindland. Lindland was outspoken as an athlete, and competed with a number of different organizations during his career. He is pleased with how he managed his professional career. “I was able to do it my way, have success, make a living and have fun,” said Lindland. “We were still not a high profile sport like it is today. I didn’t do it for fame and glory. I wanted to com- pete and I wanted to get paid for it.”

In addition to fighting, Lindland also worked as an MMA coach, as well as a promoter of MMA events. He has embraced the new media and has been very successful in getting the word out about his events and his athletes. He has also remained active in wrestling in his community, coaching young wrestlers of many ages. Coaching has become an important passion for him.

“I love seeing the guys I work with have success,” said Lindland. “I love seeing them mature. It is selfless, because it’s not about you. It makes you feel real good to help them, to see them do well not just on the mat, but also in life.” Lindland would like to see an even stronger connection between wrestling and MMA. “To me, it’s one and the same,” said Lindland. “Wrestling is the hardest part about MMA. Once you learn how to wrestle, you can learn the other techniques. Too many people want to get caught up in the differences. It is all grappling. I just call it wrestling. Submission wrestling, Greco, collegiate, jacket wrestling. It is all the same sport.” Lindland still has a strong affinity for wrestling, although he continues to make a big impact on MMA and loves both sports. “What I like about wrestling is it seems more real. There is a true athletic architecture. If you win this event, you make the team, and then you go to the World Championships. In MMA, it is up to the promoters who gets to compete. They don’t have the architecture. It is a business model. Wrestling is a more pure sport,” said Lindland.

Lindland has always wanted to help coach nationally and internationally in Greco-Roman.

He was one of the coaches at the Greco-Roman Team USA training camp in January in Colorado Springs, and went with the U.S. Greco-Roman team when it competed at the Granma Cup in Cuba.

Lindland wants to make an impact as a coach, and he also wants to help raise wrestling’s profile.

13 USA Wrestler

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