Thursday, October 28, 2010



Tito Ortiz really needs to win again in the UFC. The last time he won a match was back in 2006 when he beat Ken Shamrock. After that, he lost to Chuck Liddell for the second time in a row, got a draw against Rashad Evans, and lost to Lyoto Machida and then Forrest Griffin, then backed out in his much-hyped rematch against Chuck Liddell, which got him fired from The Ultimate Fighter (Rich Franklin replaced him in that match).

Tito Ortiz has a very established fan base since he was the UFC Light Heavyweight champion for two straight years, defended the belt five times in a row, has been in the sport for 13 years, and is one of the UFC's classic bad boys. I'm one of Tito's big fans, but honestly? If a fighter hasn't won a match in four straight years, your expectations of him kind of dwindle. Kind of really dwindle.


Matt Hamill, on the other hand, is on a tear. He's going into this fight on a four-fight win streak (he last lost to former Middleweight champ Rich Franklin two years ago), including a very impressive head kick against Mark Munoz (though one of those wins is also the infamous disqualification against Jon Jones). Hamill's one of those fighters that genuinely gets better every time he competes. In The Ultimate Fighter, he was very much a one-dimensional wrestler, though a particularly strong one, but these days, his stand up's greatly improved, and he's on his way to becoming a completely well-rounded Mixed Martial Artist.

Speaking of The Ultimate Fighter, Ortiz was Hamill's coach in the third season, so this fight was being hyped as a teacher vs. student match-up, in the vein of classic chop-socky "you have surpassed your master" moments. Some have even noted that Hamill is looking more and more like a modern version of Tito, so it's very interesting to see if he's more of an upgrade, or a simple copy.

Anyway, I'm rooting for Hamill on this one, primarily because of his constant improvements in the Octagon combined with Tito's losing streak. It just makes sense to me.


Ortiz comes out impressively aggressive with his striking, throwing everything but the kitchen sink. Punches, kicks, knees, you name it; even an impressive-looking, though unsuccessful, spinning backfist. He's mixing them up quite nicely, and shows that he definitely recognizes that he needs to up the pace in order to once become relevant in the UFC.

Hamill, as I mentioned, is no slouch in the stand up game anymore, and so manages to evade most of Ortiz's attacks, and even counter fairly accurately. Though Ortiz started out like a bat out of hell, he slowed down midway, after he realized he couldn't knock Hamill out in the first two minutes. He began pacing himself, and Hamill only continued to warm up better, getting more accustomed to his and Tito's ranges, and landing better combinations.


Hamill seems the fresher, more active fighter this time around, completely comfortable with his environment. He starts baiting Tito by waving his arms up high in the air, then landing quick, crisp, and economical strikes. He throws in feints and follows up perfectly, and backs off and counters appropriately when he needs to.

In the middle of the round, though Ortiz previously managed to easily shrug off his takedowns every time, Hamill finally got him on his back. That takedown looked to have woken Tito up, since he becomes increasingly active, throwing an endless amount of punches and elbows from the bottom, and attempting a triangle choke more than once. Hamill, though, lays his own ground and pound, lands cleanly plenty of times, and manages to control Tito until the end of the round.


The third round starts out very similarly to the second, which is very surprising, considering that Ortiz should be way more concerned at this point. The first round could have gone either way, but the second was clearly Hamill's. Ortiz is still mixing everything up, but he doesn't seem nearly as aggressive as he needs to be. Playing it safe is definitely not for him at this point.

Hamill also seems more docile this time around, despite the fact that his corner advised him to let his hands go more and finish Tito off his feet. Neither fighter is showing any obvious signs of exhaustion, but the pace that they're both carrying at this point clearly points to an emptying of the gas tank. At the 2:00 minute mark, referee John McCarthy signals both fighters to rev it up and go for it.

Hamill rushes in, takes Ortiz down, gets into side control, holds him there, then administers some wicked ground and pound that clearly does some damage. Hamill was too tired to finish Ortiz off, but he easily could have.

He at least finishes strong and wins the bout by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).


I was really surprised at Tito during this fight. He showed complete understanding of his standing in the UFC by coming out strong, but quit his pace after only 2 minutes. He got controlled by Hamill much in the second round, and he looked uncharacteristically out of gas in the third. At least he didn't let out one of his characteristic excuses during the press conference, and admitted he was fully healthy this time around, but he really should have showed more initiative during the fight.

Matt Hamill, on the other hand, looked spectacular most of the fight, despite reaching exhaustion in the third. His performance in the second, both on the ground and standing up, was pretty amazing, and how he mixed up his strikes with feints and baits was a thing of beauty. He should have taken Tito down in the third round earlier and finished him off with the ground and pound he was having so much success in, but he still won, so I guess that's okay.

What's next for The Hammer? Dana White reveals that Hamill's going to take on a top 10 opponent next time around. Whoever it will be, I'm sure Hamill will show the constant improvements he's been showcasing thus far perform at his best, which is always something to look forward to.

Check out my reviews for the rest of the card, and head on over to the official UFC website for more amazing photos of the event!

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