Sounds crazy, right? After all, the top five middleweight was banished back in 2005 after a win and now has a UFC hit piece, Fighting Politics, coming out in documentary form. The primary reason for Lindland's absence from the UFC, given in the movie and documented elsewhere many times, was a flap over an online gaming advertisement. Lindland defied the promotion's wishes when he wore a .com gambling t-shirt to the ring for UFC 54. It was banned apparel at the time for UFC fighters. As a result, Lindland went bye-bye.
Well, it's clear now that the UFC has lifted the ban. As MMAPayout points out, a .net poker site was featured prominently during both the Fight for the Troops card last month and UFC 93 this past weekend. Now that the company is accepting money from poker sites that should clear the way for Lindland to return to the UFC. Randy Couture, a former Team Quest teammate of Lindland, signed his own deal with the same .net poker site back in November. Interestingly, Couture was also in the mix during the original battle in 2005 over the outlaw .com site.
"The Law" checks in after the jump to quickly give his reaction to the UFC changing its course.
CAGE WRITER: Do you have any reaction to the UFC accepting money from the .net poker site when you weren't allowed to from Sportsbook.com?
LINDLAND: Of course they are accepting sponsorship money as they should it’s a business and UFC like every other business’s objective should be to find revenue streams with the goal of making a profit.
CAGE WRITER: Maybe there's a difference with fight cards in North Carolina and Ireland v. Las Vegas?
LINDLAND: Ok, if you say so.
CAGE WRITER: Are you now going to ask to come back since the .com t-shirt flap should be irrelevant?
LINDLAND: This question assumes a lot. Right now I am under contract with Affliction. I would always consider fighting for whatever organization made me the best offer money and term. I am a prize fighter I am always looking for the best deal.
CAGE WRITER: Is there some hypocrisy here with the promotion saying we're going to accept dollars from off-shore sites but fighters can't?
LINDLAND: You need to understand the UFC is a fiefdom and the fighters are vassals to understand the way this work.
CAGE WRITER: Or could this be a sign of the times with the economy struggling, the rules have changed?
LINDLAND: It’s their game, their court, their ball if you want to play then you play by their rules period and the rules can change whenever they want to change the rule.
CAGE WRITER: Do you expect fighters to be able to work out their own deals for online gaming dollars? If it's a longterm deal, one might guess that the .net poker site has exclusivity.
LINDLAND: You assume a lot and your questions are all pretty leading; but to answer, I would expect it gets worse for the athletes before it gets better.
Lindland would be a nice addition to the middleweight ranks which could an infusion of new contenders for Anderson Silva's belt. The guy was 9-3 during his time with the UFC and has gone 6-2 since leaving. His only losses came fighting in higher weight divisions against Quinton Jackson and the world's pound-for-pound best, Fedor Emelianenko.
The guess here is that the downturn in the economy has changed the promotion's philosophy about online gaming sponsorship. It may also believe there is a difference between .nets and .coms.
Cage Writer will be ringside/cageside with live updates at both Affliction 2 on Saturday and WEC 38 on Sunday.