This fight has huge implications even though there is no title on the line. Jackson is in the title hunt and could possibly face current champion Jon Jones with an impressive win this weekend. This is a fight that could make Hamill’s career should he be able to pull off the upset. I’m not sure how close it gets him to a title shot being that Jon Jones absolutely destroyed him a few fights back, but a win over a top 5 fighter would certain up his stock dramatically.
Hamill comes into this fight with a career record of (10-2) with 6 wins via KO/TKO and one win via disqualification(Jon Jones fight). He technically hasn’t lost since getting stopped at UFC 88 against Rich Franklin back in 2008. He was able to grind out a decision win over former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz in his last outing. Hamill has evolved quite a bit from his wrestling base, but he rarely used his wrestling ability early in his career. However, in recent fights we’ve seen him do a better job of mixing in his takedowns with his striking. Hamill is durable and have decent power in his strikes. The knock on him is that he takes more punishment than he should during his fights.
Jackson comes into this fight with a career record of (31-8) with 14 wins via KO/TKO. Jackson won a controversial split decision against former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in his last outing after losing a decision to former champion Rashad Evans after taking a big role in the “A-Team” movie. Jackson has tremendous power in his hands and put anyone away with either one. He also is just a powerful individual overall with good takedown defense, although he relies more on brute strength than technique. He has a great chin and possibly some of the best defensive boxing(blocking) in MMA. The knock on Jackson is that he’s become a fairly one dimensional fighter in his past 4-5 fights, looking for the knockout without incorporating much wrestling or any other aspects of MMA into his game.
Linesmaker has Jackson as the betting favorite at (-260) and Hamill as the underdog at (+200).
Matt Hamill has to be able to take Jackson down and keep him there for a realistic shot at winning this fight. I think Hamill can take Jackson down, the question in my mind is can he keep him there? While Hamill has decent power, I don’t think can knock Jackson out nor do I think he’ll have much success trading strikes with Jackson. He may try to implement some leg kicks since they have given Jackson problems in the past, but his plodding style just doesn’t seem suitable against someone the caliber of Jackson. Which is why Hamill will need to strike just enough to set up his takedowns, just make it an ugly fight. Jackson expects to get him out of there pretty early in my opinion, and if Hamill is still there in the final round in a close fight? Who knows what can happen if it goes to the judges.
The gameplan for Jackson is simple to execute. Stop the takedown and make Hamill pay each time he tries to strike with him. Hamill’s striking defense is rather poor so Jackson should be able to land with a high accuracy rate, particularly the uppercut. I think Jackson trained hard for this fight, but I still think Hamill will make a fight out of this due to his toughness and heart. They say hard work beats talent when talent has an off day or decides to take the day off. This would be a perfect scenario for that to happen. However, I have to go with Rampage Jackson in this fight. He hasn’t knocked anyone out since decapitating Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92 back in 2008, so he’s due for another highlight reel knockout.