By Percy Crawford | May 14, 2008

"Matt Lindland practically beat Quinton. Some people thought he beat Quinton, I didn't, but it was 1 point. He did better than Chuck or Dan Henderson did against Rampage. It's just one thing…Dana doesn't like him," stated Pitt Boss John Hackleman as he shared his thoughts on anything and everything in and around the light heavyweight division. You don't want to miss this exclusive as Hackleman weighs in on upcoming fights like Silva vs. Jardine, Machida vs. Ortiz and Jackson vs. Forrest. Plus, Hackleman talks about Chuck Liddell's leg injury that forced him to withdraw from UFC 85 and sets the record straight regarding the feud between Liddell and Kimbo Slice. Check it out.

PC: It's been awhile since we spoke. How have you been?

JH: Good!

PC: How is everything going at "The Pit?"

JH: Everything is going good. We have like 26. Where are you?

PC: I'm in Louisiana. I see you guys have a "Pit" in Dallas or somewhere though.

JH: We have 5 in Texas now. We just opened a new one in New York. We had our first black person join us. We've never had one before.

PC: Is he good or what?

JH: He wasn't, but it was funny because he wanted to…they come to my seminar because they're just martial arts instructors that come to my school and they want to bring "The Pit" curriculum and name back to their gym. It's not pro fighters though, but he wanted to train with my fighters (laughing). So I had him spar Luke because he had only had 1 fight, but he's really, really good. He tried real hard against Luke, but he ended up on his back a lot getting punched in his face, but it was really fun; they loved it. So people come to my seminar and they bring "The Pit" name back to their gym. They could say they're affiliated with "The Pit."

PC: That's cool man. Sounds like you're expanding?

JH: Yeah, we have like 26 of them now.

PC: How's Chuck doing after the hamstring tear?

JH: Chuck's good. He trained today and he's going to train again tonight. It sucks, but what can you do?

PC: Was it one of those injuries where you knew right away he was hurt or did he try to cover it up and hide it from you?

JH: No, I was there when it happened. I knew right away when it happened. Everyone knew. He did it pretty bad. He was like, "Ahhhh fuck!" A guy rushed him to the MRI and it was a humongous tear, not a humongous rip, but a lot of little rips.

PC: Yeah, I saw the pictures of it.

JH: Aw yeah, it was bad. It ripped all the way down his leg. I heard there were pictures, but I haven't seen those yet. I saw the MRI. I showed him the MRI before they read it and I was like, "Bro, you're not fighting." There was no way. He was like, "Let's just wait." We called Dana right away, but we wanted to wait a week to try and see if some kind of miracle would happen, but it didn't.

PC: Didn't you guys just have a big event at "The Pit."

JH: Yeah, we had a seminar. We're having a tournament this weekend. We have like little MMA kids sparring and shit, but not in a cage; it's in a ring. We don't let them pound each other. Once someone gets the other one down, we let them wrestle around and one gets mounted and starts getting punched in the face, we'll yell, "it's over" and they'll have to stand back up.

PC: What's the oldest guy you've had come to your seminars?

JH: We got a 60-year-old. If you go to my website and you look on the right-hand side, there is a guy that I think he's going to be 60 next year. You'll see his pictures. He's got a 6-pack and he's unbelievable. He can beat everyone at everything. He could push the wheel barrel up the hill with his own bodyweight and he weighs about 240 or 230, but he's all cut up though and he could push the wheel barrel up the hill faster than anybody else. He's un-freaking believable. If you look at all of my affiliates on the right-hand side, his is the one called "Double Action." He's out of Washington.

PC: Have you been punching on anybody lately John?

JH: No, no, no! I'm in the Zen mode lately. I get little irritations, but I'm alright. Everything is good except it was a little setback with Chuck's leg, but what are you going to do? He pulled his hamstring.

PC: Who do you like in the fight between Wanderlei and Jardine?

JH: Shit man, that's a tough one. I like Jardine.

PC: What did you think about St-Pierre and Serra's rematch?

JH: I don't think it surprised anybody. What was Serra, like a 5-1 underdog? I thought it would go exactly like it did. I love Serra though. He's one of the toughest guys around. He wasn't going to quit. He's like a New York guy that works at like the docks or something. "Yo Vinny, I'm going to go fight St-Pierre." He's funny as hell. I think he has a punchers chance. If he lands on anyone, he's going to knock them out.

PC: What about Machida and Tito?

JH: That's a tough one too. I see it as a toss up. I love both of those guys. I think Tito is still one of the best 205 pounders in the world, but he has a bad relationship with Dana White. I think he's definitely in the top 10 and he's not listed because Dana doesn't like him, but he's definitely in the top 10 light heavies. Machida probably is a top 5 light heavy right now, but the styles; that's a weird style match-up.

PC: I can see Tito taking him down and dominating just like I could see Machida keeping it standing and outpointing Tito.

JH: Yeah, but Machida can surprise you when he hits the ground. I might give an edge to Machida actually. I think he's really good at making everything work and he's really technical. He is like the Larry Holmes of MMA. It doesn't look like he's doing much, but he does enough to keep beating people.

PC: Last fight, who do you like between Rampage and Forrest?

JH: Rampage. I think Rampage is a little sharper and a little more explosive, but then again, I wouldn't put odds on it. I wouldn't go more than even odds. Forrest has already shown how tough he was. Not only can he take a punch, but he comes in great shape. He's the kind of guy that you can't count out. It would be close to even odds, but I think Rampage has a little too much right now.

PC: Have you been watching any good boxing lately?

JH: I just watched a fight.

PC: Did you watch De La Hoya the other night?

JH: No, I didn't even know there was one until after it happened.

PC: He's supposed to rematch Mayweather in September.

JH: Is he? I'll have to try and get some tickets to that. The heavyweight picture, I mean, forget the fact that they're white, but they're just terrible; even the black guys. When have you ever seen 1 white heavyweight, much less 4? The champions in the heavyweight division are white. Not only are they white, but except for Valensky or Vachecke or whatever his name is.

PC: Wladimir.

JH: Yeah, everyone else is fucking terrible. It's bad. I love Lennox. I think he does a great job announcing. He was really funny on that reality show.

PC: The Apprentice.

JH: Yeah. He did a good job and I think he does a great job announcing. A lot of fighters…I actually think what's his name, the guy with the 3 names…oh Roy Jones, I think he did a great job too. I think Foreman is ok. It's really funny because the MMA guys are doing it too, but I thought the last announcer for the last UFC was really good. Who was it?

PC: Damn John, you're not good with names. Kenny Florian.

JH: Yeah, he did a really good fucking job. Have you ever seen Frank Trigg? Trigg did a couple of Prides on Fox or something and I told him when I saw him that he should try and do that as a career. He's really good. I thought Florian did a great job. His post-fight interviews were probably the best that I've ever seen. He let the guys talk a little bit, but not too much. It was really good. What's his name was the best…the guy that said, "I came in here…" you don't remember?

PC: Oh, Nate Quarry.

JH: Oh my God. I know him and he's not a funny guy.

PC: Have you ever seen somebody get on their horse like that John?

JH:  I've seen guys in boxing do that, but I've never seen an MMA guy do that. Nate Quarry was funny during the fight and then after that…and he's not a funny guy, but he was so funny. It was hilarious; one of the highlights of the fight. I talked to the coach at ATT and they kicked that guy off.

PC: Oh, they kicked Starnes off the team?

JH: Yeah!

PC: Yeah, he may not have a future in MMA?

JH: I think he may have a future in MMA, but not with the UFC. He won't fight for awhile in the UFC, but you'll be surprised how they will bring some people back; like with Tito.

PC: I'm surprised Dana hasn't given an inch with Matt Lindland with them running out of opponents for Anderson Silva.

JH: He doesn't like him. It has nothing to do with business, it's just he don't like him personally and that's what it's all about with him.

PC: The middleweight division could definitely use him.

JH: Yeah, Matt Lindland practically beat Quinton. Some people thought he beat Quinton, I didn't, but it was 1 point. He did better than Chuck or Dan Henderson did against Rampage. It's just one thing…Dana doesn't like him. If Dana doesn't like you, he's like a kid, "it's my playground; you can't play anymore." It's not about business because he doesn't need business. He's got like billionaire best friends that gives him all of the money he needs so it's not about that, it's just about personality.

PC: What's your take on the Kimbo Slice situation? I see him and Chuck going back and forth a little.

JH: You know what Chuck said? Chuck likes him and think he's really good, but Chuck just says, "They're comparing him to all of these greats and he hasn't done anything yet." Chuck thinks he can be great, but as for now, he hasn't done anything yet. When he does, more power to him and I think he will be great, but people are already comparing him to fucking Shamrock or Royce Gracie and he's had 2 fights. He's had a bunch of ghetto fucking street fights against guys my mom could beat. I saw some of those guys. They have like ponytail dreadlocks with their stomachs hanging over their gut. That's guys that my mom could beat tomorrow. In MMA, he might be the next heavyweight champion, but as for right now and all, Chuck said he's not great right now, but he does think he will be great some day. He hasn't proven anything yet, but they blew that out of proportion and they had to do something with Kimbo. Kimbo probably likes Chuck too, but then they had to bring out the ghetto thing and have him say, "I'll kick his ass" and all that stupid shit. Chuck's not impressed with that shit. He's just like, "Whatever; alright." Chuck will do the whole street fighting thing too. He's one of the few guys that will. You remember he fought over in Brazil with no rules.

PC: Yeah, Vale Tudo.

JH: Yeah, he did, no gloves, headbutts and groin shots allowed.

PC: I heard Chuck was kicking some ass at the Tito Ortiz and Lee Murray street fight.

JH: Yeah, isn't that the guy that went to jail?

PC: Yeah, Murray did.

JH: Yeah, he was. We were in Hawaii. I have to tell you this funny story. We were in Hawaii doing a blackbelt test and Chuck came with a bunch of my other blackbelts and some other students and we show up for breakfast and Chuck doesn't wear sunglasses ever; even when it's like 100 degrees out. He was with another guy that was a police captain in town and they're both wearing sunglasses and they were acting kind of weird like they were trying to hide something from me. All of my students and my fighters know if they get in trouble outside of any fights, I get really pissed. I'll kick them off of the team, yell at them or whatever. Finally, I look at them and I go, "What the fuck is going on over there?" They took their sunglasses off and both of them have black eyes. They had gotten into it with some locals over in Hawaii at the bar the night before. They didn't want to show me.

PC: Have you ever seen Chuck get into a street fight before?

JH: Have I? I've seen him do a couple of things when he was a bouncer downtown. I'm thinking something happened in Vegas, but I can't remember. I've never really seen him pound someone though.

PC: I appreciate it as always John. Thanks for your time man.

JH: Alright. Anything you need man, we're here for you.

[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrLouis1ana ]

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