I think it has something to do with it** You can't compare Lindland to Liddell, Lidell may have a gut but he's also built and a good-looking guy with an exciting fighting style** Lindland is homely, looks like his parents are probably related, is really hairy but not in a hot way like Arlovski, never has big muscles or even any definition to speak of, is pretty much bald, doesn't have particularly inspiring speaking abilities, and has a reputation for smelling really bad**
Back at the time Lindland was first released from the UFC, it was pretty much common knowledge that although he was technically released for wearing a shirt with an unapproved sponsor on it (lol), Dana really wanted him gone because he was a talented but terribly unmarketable and somewhat boring ground fighter who had a good chance to win the title when they really wanted their up and coming, highly marketable, good looking, ripped, muay thai-skilled boy Rich Franklin to take it**
Please note, I'm just explaining what I believe to be Dana's point of view, I personally think the best fighter should be holding the title, not the most marketable one**
Like Hex Rei mentions, there has to be more to this story than the T-Shirt issue, although that is what the official explanation from Dana was. I know Matt, I used to wrestle him in high school, we called him Gumby back then. He was a skinny kid with wicked flexibility and technique compared to other AA school wrestlers. I've been best friends with his cousin for 20+ years, and I hear all the scuttlebutt through him. Dana just doesn't want him around and it has to be because he doesn't have a marketable face and persona. Many hardcore fans recognize his ability, but even they admit he isn't the posterboy for any organization. Clearly Dana sees the same thing. Now that he has spent time in other orgs, and become a local promoter himself, it is likely he burned any chance to climb back into the UFC. Now he is 38 yrs old and will be a non-entity in a few years. So many other middleweight guys offer marketability, there is no reason for the UFC to need him, regardless of his skill. Bodog screwed him out of $$$ (even though he got in the ring with Fedor)and his Affliction fight was against a little known Negao. He fights Babalu in January, it will be interesting to see what happens. I don't think the David Terrell fight was the nail in his UFC coffin, it had to be more than that.
Matt has done a lot for the sport here in Portland Oregon. He is a local favorite, that is for sure. Team Quest has made it's mark on the MMA world.