Matt Hamill is ready to make some noise.
After thoroughly dismantling former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz in his last fight at UFC 121, the Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran called out Quinton Jackson and his campaign was awarded with what eventually became a main event fight against him on May 28 in Las Vegas.
Hamill fielded a ton of questions during the UFC 130 conference call like a champ, showing no signs of nervousness at being the main event of a numbered UFC pay-per-view for the first time in his career.
"The Hammer" discussed why he feels he's ready to headline a main event and why he was concerned that Jackson wouldn't accept him as an opponent.
"Beating Tito (Ortiz) definitely put me on line to get big fights like this and I knew I was ready for the next level and I'm really glad I'm there ...I know I'm not top 10 in the world. I know (Rampage) wants to fight Rashad Evans or anyone in the top five. I'm only ranked 17th in the world right now. I understand where he's coming from. I feel I can beat him and I just want to thank Rampage for giving me the opportunity. I thought he wouldn't want to accept the fight because he thinks I'm not in his league but I'm going to prove that I am in his league."
The deaflympian gold medalist and former three time national champion college wrestler discussed his goals as a fighter and why he's a fan of "Rampage."
"I wanna be in the top five. I want to face a big name fighter like Rampage that will take me to the next level. Personally, I campaigned for the Rampage fight and said I wanted him because I feel I match up well with him stylistically. He's my favorite fighter to watch because he's so exciting and he's got power in both hands with hand speed of a welterweight. That being said, Rampage gets by on being the biggest strongest guy a lot of times and this time he's not gonna be. He's gonna be outwrestled and he's gonna be taken down. There's no way around it."
When Hamill first stepped into the cage for a big time fight against Rich Franklin back at UFC 88 in Sept. 2008, he was a little star-struck and ended up getting stopped with a vicious liver kick from "Ace." Matt, who has a feature movie about his live coming out this fall, explained how he's matured since the Franklin fight.
"When I fought Rich Franklin, I let the friendship get in the way. Rich Franklin helped get me into the UFC and we grew up training together and that affected my performance. I learned my lesson when I fought Tito, who'd coached me on The Ultimate Fighter and I now know what it takes to go out and do what I need to do."
One of the biggest concerns for Hamill will be the powerful punches of Jackson, although he feels that "Rampage's" focus on his striking has made him weaker in the other areas of the sport.
"This whole training camp has been about preparing to avoid Rampage's hands. Rampage has heavy hands. I have a good chin but I can be knocked out so I'm definitely looking to avoid that. (Rampage has become more reliant on his hands so the other parts of his game are vulnerable) and that's why I want him."
A victory over "Rampage" would vault Hamill immediately into the proverbial "mix." He's ready for the toughest test in the most high profile fight of his career and there's no way he would be looking past Jackson at a potential title shot down the road.
"I don't think about what's coming next. Every fight I take it one fight at a time. With this fight with Rampage, it feels like I'm in the semifinals of a wrestling bracket and I've never lost in the semi-finals of a wrestling bracket."
So what do you think, Maniacs? Is Hamill correct about Jackson being vulnerable due to his focus on striking?