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Hamill wants to move up the ladder

Story by David L. Hudson Jr.

He presents one of the most compelling stories in mixed martial arts, overcoming a disability to become an elite fighter in the sport that he lives and breathes. He earned fans on The Ultimate Fighter and he has clearly lost only one fight – to a former UFC champion – in his professional career. His physical strength, wrestling background in Greco-Roman and freestyle and desire to win make him a formidable opponent for any light heavyweight. Next year a movie on his life story – entitled with his last name- will be released. He is none other than Matt “the Hammer” Hamill.

Born deaf, Hamill now faces an undefeated prospect in Mark Munoz, a fighter with sterling wrestling credentials on an undercard bout on UFC 96 in Columbus, Ohio, this Saturday night March 7th. Hamill knows that this is no walk in the park.

“He has awesome wrestling skills,” Hamill said in an e-mail interview.

“He is a very technical fighter.”

Hamill believes that the bout against the wrestler Munoz will give him an opportunity to showcase his improved striking skills.

Hamill says he learned a lot from his lost to his friend Rich Franklin, the former UFC 185 lb. middleweight champion who had moved back up to 205 lb. to face Hamill at UFC 88. Hamill seemingly did not try to take full advantage of his wrestling and instead seemed content to square off in a stand-up war against the dangerous striker.

“I was lost in the fight and it was over before I knew it,” he recalls. “I chalk it up to a great learning experience. I learned how to kick friendships out the door and harness my killer instinct.”

Hamill rebounded in his last bout with a convincing win over Andy Reese at UFC 92. When asked his goals in mixed martial arts in 2009 and beyond, Hamill says: “fight exciting fights and keep moving up the ladder.” He toils in one of the most talented and deep divisions in the UFC, marked by fighters such as Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Chuck “the Iceman” Liddell, Lyoto Machida and Keith “the Dean of Mean” Jardine. The main event at UFC 96 features two fighters on a higher rung on the ladder in this division – Rampage and the “Dean of Mean.” For his part, Hamill only says that it should be an exciting bout.

The ladder that Hamill desires to climb is tough and treacherous, but Hamill shows no fear.

“I want to fight the top guys,” he says. “I don’t want anything to be easy.”

Like most combatants at his level, his ultimate goal is a championship.

“I want a belt. I gave up my dream of Olympic gold so now I want UFC gold.”

Tune in to UFC 96 to see if Hamill can move closer to UFC gold.




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