Matt Hamill is Closer to a Title Shot than You Think

If I had to pick one word to describe the UFC Light Heavyweight Division over the last few years it would be ‘unstable.’ The division’s top prize has been passed around more than an STD at the Jersey Shore house. As a result we’ve got any number of great fighters in the upper levels of the weight class and a lack of any real pecking order amongst contenders.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson fights tomorrow night, and he holds the most recent win over Lyoto Machida. Machida is still the only man to defeat Rashad Evans, who hasn’t fought in a year. Evans’ last win? Of course, it was against “Rampage.” You’ve also got great fighters in the division like former champs Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Forrest Griffin (who will clash for a second time at UFC 134), and Rich Franklin.

One name that doesn’t get mentioned much in the conversation for UFC light heavyweight contenders is the other half tomorrow night’s main event: Matt Hamill. He’s fought in the UFC for virtually his entire career (carrying just one pro fight into his time on The Ultimate Fighter) and his only losses were Franklin and Michael Bisping, and nobody really thinks Bisping won that fight.

Dana White has made it clear that “Rampage” will probably get the first crack at newly crowned UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, assuming that Jackson wins tomorrow night. There’s been no mention of what Hamill’s title aspirations look like should he pull off the upset, but it seems to me that it’s an option we should look at. I know, I know. It sounds crazy to think of Hamill being the next guy to get the shot, but let’s look at the evidence.

First it should be stated that beating “Rampage” is a pretty good accomplishment in its own right. If Hamill can find a way to finish Jackson as well, that would be nothing short of jaw-dropping. His performance on Saturday is the most important factor in determining whether he’s next in line or simply “in the mix.”

The majority of names in Hamill’s win column may not be all that impressive (after all, who hasn’t beaten Tito Ortiz or Keith Jardine these days?) but there is one name that stands out: Jon Jones. Yes, the win was via disqualification in a fight that Jones was clearly winning, but a win is still a win. More importantly: it’s an angle that can be used to sell Jones vs. Hamill 2 as a main event.

There’s another important factor that bears mentioning when we discuss Hamill’s title aspirations. As of this moment, he is the only fighter I’ve mentioned in this article who is on a five-fight win streak. You can talk down the names on that list all you want, but Hamill stands in sparse company when it comes to guys putting together wins at 205 lbs. in the UFC.

Let’s also not forget just who Hamill is to the UFC. He’s another one of their guys. He was on TUF almost five years ago and has been with the UFC ever since. They love pushing the fighters who have cut their teeth in the Octagon, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Hamill has his share of exciting finishes for the highlight reel. He won’t need a lot of promotion since anyone who calls themselves a UFC fan already knows who Matt Hamill is.

Of course, anyone who doesn’t know who the Ultimate Fighter alum is will have their opportunity to learn his story in a big way later this year. Specifically, they’ll have the chance to see his story on the big screen when Hamill hits theaters this fall. The success of this movie could be very good for the UFC, and vice-versa. Cross-promotional opportunities will abound whether or not Hamill is in contender status, but the UFC can maximize the public’s attention on Hamill with a prime spot on one of their fall PPVs.

Which leads me to my final point, and it’s the proverbial “elephant in the room.” By now you should know that Matt Hamill is deaf. While his story has not been pushed by the UFC to promote him as a fighter, there can be little doubt that the mainstream media would latch on to the idea of a fighter that has been deaf since birth competing for one of the highest prizes in combat sports. This factor should not earn Hamill any special privilege (and I’m sure he would be the first person to say so) but if you’re already thinking about putting him in a high-profile fight it certainly can’t be ignored.

Can Hamill earn a title shot with a win at UFC 130? We can’t speculate much further until we know what happens on Saturday night. If “Rampage” wins (as most people expect) then I imagine we’ll see him try his luck against Jones later this year. Here’s hoping Hamill gets the same consideration for a shot at the gold if he does the unexpected this weekend.

PHOTO CREDIT – UFC

15 COMMENTS
  • tomk says:

    You’re saying he’s close to a title shot against Jon Jones — the same guy who ran through him like a Mack truck only losing because of a fluke DQ? As it was clearly stated when it happened, Hamill couldn’t continue because he separated his shoulder which should have been a tko win for Jones. Mazzagatti incorrectly ruled it a DQ thinking that Hamill couldn’t continue due to the illegal strikes. Can we all agree that it’s really a loss instead of pretending he holds a win over the champ?

    A win against Rampage moves Hamill up for sure, but the 205 division is stacked and there are far more deserving guys looking for title shots. Machida, Griffin (if he beats Shogun) and Rashad Evans (if he beats Phil Davis) are all far more deserving than Hamill.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  • Rece Rock says:

    “He won’t need a lot of promotion since anyone who calls themselves a UFC fan already knows who Matt Hamill is.”

    - Well as they may be some what true he certainly can not sell a PPV on a main event level as we are seeing right now at this moment.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  • HevyHitters says:

    I would not be fan of jones vs hamill 2…besides the fact that jones will get his loss back by demolishing hamill…after rampage beats hamill there won’t even be talk of hamill and the title for awhile..if rampage/jones happends…now that’s a fight I’m interested in…if page looks good against hamill that will be a tough fight for bones

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  • THEGUNNER says:

    Matt has a lil ways to go before he gets a shot if he beats rampage I see it through a decision by putting rampage on his back the whole fight which is not exciting. I think he should have a few more top level fights before a shot because if he does end up with the title he will be defending it against guys he may not be ready for.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Makington says:

    I don’t think he was trying to say Hamill won the hell out of that fight tomk, he was using it as a viable way to create a storyline in a potential ppv matchup that would build hype for the fight. It would work too, ‘After their first matchup ended in bitter controversy, Jon Jones tries to set it straight once and for all, tune in now bitches.’ It’s like how they tried to hype Shogun’s fight with Coleman, even though noone really wanted to see it and knew it wouldn’t be a great fight.

    I thought it was a very well-written article with solid points that made me consider Hamill trying for a title, but I’m still not sure if Jones vs. Hamill 2 is ppv main event worthy to me. I thought they made a very good headlining fight for a free card, but you can’t defend one of the most prestigious belts on a free card. And with how the first fight went, nobody is actually seeing Hamill pull out the unthinkable win against Jones aside from Hamill fans.

    I guess I could see it, but they’d have to have a huge co-main event like another title fight to pull the whole card together.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  • bigbadjohn says:

    Poor justification. A win is a win? Um, no. Not when you’re being torn up in full mount and an illegal strike stops the match. You don’t go home smiling.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  • Dufresne says:

    I stand by my guns, that was a bullshit DQ.

    If a fighter can’t continue due to illegal strikes it ends as a DQ, the problem is that the 12-6 elbows DIDN’T CAUSE THE FINISH, THE DISLOCATED SHOULDER DID!! And the dislocated shoulder was from a legal slam. That should have been a TKO. Full stop. End of story.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  • MCM says:

    I have to agree with Mr. Tool, a win is a win. Did Hamil win from a BS DQ? Absolutely. But then again, his opponent tomorrow night is coming of a BS win of his own. So will just call that a wash.
    To answer his question, “Who hasn’t beaten Tito or Jardine these days?” Well, 4 of the last 5 LHW champions, at least, not a decisively as Hamil. Rampage was 15 seconds away from a split Dec against Jardine at best. Forrest got KO’d by him. Forrest only took a split Dec against Tito, while Rashad took a draw due to point deductions in his favor. Even Machida was in more trouble against Tito, than Hamil ever was.
    I still think Hamil would have been better off fighting Phil Davis (who’s also put together a nice little win streak) or Vlady before taking on a top 5 opponent. But if he wins tomorrow, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone not named Rashad Evens that deserves the title shot more.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  • Creature says:

    i honestly dont see hamil getting a title shot ever.. i doubt hes even gonna get past rampage. side note, TUF 14 is Bisping Vs Mayham.. i just read it was just announced

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • fanoftna33 says:

    Damm MCM, i was sitting here thinking how little shot Hammil has of ever getting a shot until I read your comment, and I have to say that makes me think he does deserve consideration. Very well put MCM.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  • Adam Tool says:

    Thanks for reading everyone.

    Good call MCM re: Hamill’s performance against Ortiz & Jardine as opposed to some of the other guys. It completely slipped my mind to consider that as well.

    Also I should like to point out that the fact some of you are still arguing about the end of Jones v. Hamill proves that there’s interest in seeing a second fight, even if it is just to see Jones get the win he should have gotten the first time.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  • bigbadjohn says:

    The reason I don’t believe “a win is a win” applies in this situation is simply because in a traditional fight streak in the UFC (pretty much 99% of the time) each fight will increase in difficulty the further the streak continues meaning fighting progressively higher and higher ranked fighters, usually ones with more notoriety as well. After the DQ win Hamill faced Keith Jardine. The matchmaking equivalent of a loss. But If he beats Rampage, I’m not arguing he shouldn’t have a title shot necessarily- and especially in the 205 contender mess that the UFC has now

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • stone says:

    I just honestly don’t see ANYONE beating Jon Jones at 205… Maybe ‘The Spider’ but it looks like he isn’t fighting @ 205 anymore… I think Rashad & Rampage would at least make it out the 1st rd. Which is an accomplishment of it’s own.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • elsicilian says:

    “(Hamill’s) only losses were Franklin and Michael Bisping, and nobody really thinks Bisping won that fight.”

    Well, nobody really thinks Hamill won his fight with Bones Jones, either. You can’t have it both ways and maintain any credibility …

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • Angry Mike says:

    The headline needs rewriting: “Hamill is closer to irrelevance than the editors thought.”

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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