At UFC 130 “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (9-2) will be looking to make “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (31-8) his sixth victim in his current win streak when the pair face off in a main event light heavyweight battle. Outside of a hotly contested disqualification victory over current 205lbs. champion “Bones” Jon Jones (13-1), Hamill has left little doubt with back-to-back decision victories over “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (17-9) and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-8) that he has a legitimate presence in the division. He is, however, looked at with a certain measure of contempt as a contender by the pundits who call into question the talent level of the opponents he has beaten since coming to the UFC in 2006. A solid win over a former champion like “Rampage” would do much to allay that contempt.
Matt Hamill is quite the journeyman when it comes to MMA. He has 11 fights in his career and all of them have been inside the Octagon. There aren’t many fighters in MMA that can truly say that they were completely made by the UFC but Hamill is one of them and the fans have had the privilege of seeing a pure wrestler evolve into a true mixed martial artist. Hamill is 34-years-old and while he is arguably not top tier in the light heavyweight division he is an excellent fighter and a threat to anyone he faces in the cage. He is not particularly well-rounded though he often seeks to implement the other facets of his game in order to finish fights and, when faced with adversity, he can always go back to his bread and butter: wrestling. He was able to control Tito Ortiz for much of their fight using his wrestling, and was even able to stymie Keith Jardine enough in the stand-up and get the fight to the mat in order to grind out the Majority Decision victory. The issues Hamill has had in his career arise when he faces a strong opponent who is able to challenge him in the clinch while countering his very rudimentary striking, and “Rampage” is just such a man.
“The Hammer” has major holes in his game when it comes to striking. While he has come a long way from throwing haymakers from all angles and hoping for success, he still has quite a way to go in order to truly be an effective striker. He was able to KO “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (10-2) with a head kick however that was more the result of a mistake on Munoz’s part rather than effectiveness on the part of Hamill. He tends to try and crowd his opponents when striking by always moving forward which gives him the ability to clinch and use his wrestling to control his opponents but also has the effect of jamming his own strikes and robbing them of power. When he fought Munoz, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” showed far better movement and footwork, however, when Hamill had him trapped against the cage, Munoz tried to circle out, effectively moving himself into the perfect range for Hamill’s head kick. Hamill lacks the head movement and footwork to handle Jackson’s boxing and even worse, his always forward, linear mode of attack will make him play right into Jackson’s devastating pocket striking game. Hamill will have to vary his strikes and use lateral movement to set up his takedowns if he wants to grind out a decision against the former champ. It is a game plan he is more than capable of enacting as he showed against Jardine. However, if Hamill doesn’t enact this strategy he should probably expect to sleep through Rounds 2 and 3.