On Sports

Matt Lindland is not your typical politician. He has those cauliflower ears, of course. And a few scars on his grill. But he's smart, passionate and eager - which may not always fit a political profile, either, now that I think about it.

Lindland, the area's busiest mixed martial arts competitor, promoter and manager, has filed to run as a Republican candidate for state House District 52, representing Eagle Creek, Sandy and an area reaching east to Hood River. He says he couldn't resist when he found out incumbent Patti Smith wasn't running for another term.

'It was an open seat,' he says. 'The Democrats are trying to get control of the House. I've always said when I'm done fighting I want to do something like this. On the day I filed, I was the only candidate.'

Corbett bed-and-breakfast owner Phyllis Thiemann filed later and will square off with Lindland in the May primary.

'I know I have to raise some money and devote some time to this,' Lindland says. 'I can do that. I need some people to help me. There isn't a lot of time, but I'm always up for a good fight.'

MMA enthusiasts know that. A year ago, Lindland, who always has competed at around 185 pounds, went to Russia to take on 235-pound Fedor Emelianenko, considered by many the world's toughest MMA heavyweight.

Lindland lost a disputed first-round ruling and then was not paid in full from the contract he had with promoter Bodog Entertainment.

'They screwed me out of a lot of money,' he says. 'I was supposed to have two more fights. But they're an offshore company, and there isn't much you can do against them in court.'

Lindland was unable to fight for months because of that contract dispute, which caused him to drop out of national rankings. But he's signed a three-fight deal and expects to have the first of those bouts in June.

He won't confirm anything, but his new contract is with Golden Boy Promotions, boxer Oscar De La Hoya's company, which reportedly is diving into MMA.

Lindland - 'I wear a lot of hats' - also manages several fighters, runs the Team Quest gym and promotes Sportfight events in the Rose Garden, for which he now has a television deal with Mark Cuban's HDNet. This week, Lindland was in Las Vegas as manager and corner man for Chael Sonnen's MMA matchup against Bryan Baker.

The 37-year-old former Olympic silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling has to stay busy. It's a misconception that MMA is a hot sport. Ultimate Fighting Championships, Dana White's UFC, is extremely hot. The rest of the MMA groups are scrambling to stay alive.

Lindland was a key UFC fighter, but he was let go after a dispute over his wearing nonsanctioned advertising into the cage.

'I see Dana once in a while,' Lindland says. 'It's a great company. I would like to go back someday. But it hasn't worked out.'

In the meantime, I'll be waiting to see his campaign literature. I think 'Vote for me or I'll put you in a rear-naked choke' would be an outstanding slogan.

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