Matt Lindland has been Chael Sonnen’s coach for 15 years. That’s a longer relationship than most of you have had with anyone in your entire lives (outside of your parents). Back when they first met, Bill Clinton was president, NASA had a shuttle program and kids aspired to become astronauts, the World Trade Center was the tallest building in Manhattan, and all the best fighters in the world competed in PRIDE. With the exception of a democrat in office, Matt Lindland and Chael Sonnen probably agreed on everything.
Unfortunately, it’s 2012, and times have changed. None of the above exists anymore and Team Quest has changed, too. In a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Matt Lindland went into details about Chael’s upcoming suspension to deal with all his legal problems (all of which were put on hold to accommodate his recent title fight with Anderson Silva); he then went on to say that the reason Chael lost at UFC 148 wasn’t because of a spinning-back-fist that missed its mark, but rather that he isn’t tough enough to be the UFC middleweight champion.
“I’ve said this before as his coach: He’ll put the work in, and he’ll stay dedicated, and he’ll stay focused,” he said. “He’s an incredible athlete. He’s got all the tools. But in fighting, you have to be a tough mother[expletive]. And he’s just not very tough.
“I think this is partially his mistakes and partially maybe by design that Chael was lacking one element to make him a champion, and I think that’s the toughness. I really think he’s going to come out of this on the other side and be really, really tough.”
I hate being put into any position where it means disagreeing with Matt Lindland, so I’ll smile and nod, even though I disagree with Matt Lindland. Chael Sonnen was the toughest contender for the middleweight belt that Anderson Silva ever faced. He was also the first one to force Anderson to compete with desperation. If a tougher competitor on this planet exists, he must be stuck at level 79 on World of Warcraft and he refuses to leave his living room until reaching level 80. Only then can he start cutting weight and fighting in the UFC, but by then, Anderson Silva will probably retire.