UFC 130: Matt Hamill Looks to Use Rampage to Reach Next Level

Matt Hamill at UFC 121

Matt Hamill at UFC 121

If you’ve disregarded Matt Hamill when thinking about the most dangerous light heavyweights in the UFC, you’ll probably want to take a moment to think about what he’s capable of.

“The Hammer,” who is preparing to fight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill, has spent the majority of his career in the UFC, getting little notoriety during his tenure.

Sure he had a stint on the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, and was introduced to the mixed martial arts world as a tough wrestler with a hearing-impairment that doesn’t seem to hold him back in his fighting career, but beyond that, you won’t find Hamill on anybody’s list of top 205-pounders.

To sum it up, a vast majority of people look at Hamill as a “mid-level guy.” At UFC 130, he’ll get his chance to show he’s a step above the mid-range. His previous fight and subsequent win against Tito Ortiz played the role of stepping stone in his mission to prove his place in the upper echelon of light heavyweights.

Matt Hamill and Tito Ortiz

Matt Hamill and Tito Ortiz

“Beating Tito definitely put me in line to get some big fights like this and I knew I was ready for the next level,” Hamill said recently. “I’m just really glad I’m there.”

Hamill’s record stands alone on its own merits; it’s a decent record of 10-2 with his only losses coming to Rich Franklin and Michael Bisping. Many would argue that Hamill legitimately won the fight with Bisping, but the judges gave the nod to Bisping, and ultimately, that’s the only opinion that matters on fight night.

Despite being dominated by Jon Jones en route to a disqualification win over the recently-crowned light heavyweight champ, Hamill has made a case to be considered one of the most dangerous fighters in the division, regardless of rankings.

One can argue that his 9-2 record within the UFC grants him the chance to be in a room of top contenders. Does he belong there? Some would give the a definitive “no” and turn their heads to any talk of Hamill being anywhere close to top-tier talent.

Even Hamill understood Jackson’s perspective about not being excited to fight him. On most ranking systems, Hamill isn’t listed very high at all, so he won’t give “Rampage” any grief about not being stoked to step in the Octagon with him.

Actually, he honestly feels like Jackson should be thinking about fighters ranked five or above.

“I don’t blame him for thinking that way,” he said. “I’m only ranked 17th in the world right now and I think ‘Rampage’ should be thinking about fighting the top five guys in the world. But the opportunity came up and (I) had to face him. I feel like I can beat him and I just wanted to thank Rampage for giving me the opportunity.”

Of course, Hamill couldn’t pass up an opportunity to fight someone so highly regarded. To do so would prevent him from getting to that next level he’s been trying to get to.

“I just looked at Rampage like a big name and somebody I thought would put me in the next level,” he said.

In thinking about who Jackson would be eyeing in his next fight, Hamill didn’t include himself as a potential opponent, but instead assumed fights with Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin would be more appealing to the former light heavyweight champion. After all, Jackson lost to both of them, and after beating Lyoto Machida at UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida, it seemed appropriate that he would find himself going against Evans, Griffin, Rua, or Jones.

But he’s not fighting any one of them. Matt Hamill is his opposition now, and that sounds perfectly fine to “The Hammer.” He’s all about his opportunity to prove he’s in Jackson’s league.

“I thought that Rampage would believe that this match is not in his league, but it’s my next charge to prove that I am in his league.”

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Erik Fontanez is a staff writer for MMAWeekly.com.
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