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Legendary Knockouts: Matt Hamill wrecks the 'Filipino Machine' Mark Munoz at UFC 96


The sport of mixed martial arts as we know it today is built on exciting fights with definitive finishes and compelling rivalries. Those that choose to defy logic and sacrifice their bodies in the name of the entertainment of fickle fight fans are rewarded with undying love.

But it's competitors like Matt Hamill that deserve the attention.

His story is one of hard work, persistence and inspiration. Born deaf, the Loveland, Ohio native has always been climbing uphill, constantly dealing with the adversity that comes with his inability to perceive sound. 

That disability hasn't held him back from achieving monumental feats throughout his life. A natural in the art of grappling, Hamill won three NCAA Division III National Championships while attending the Rochester Institute of Technology. He would also go on to win two medals in the 2001 Deaflympics, a silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling and a gold medal in freestyle.

Those successes led him to The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season three, where typically tumultuous troublemaker turned technical teacher Tito Ortiz carefully crafted and honed his game for MMA.

Injuries prevented Hamill from winning the show but the promise he showed earned him a contract with the world's largest fight promotion, where he makes his home to this day.

Along the way, he's quietly been one of the most successful fighters in one of the deepest divisions in the UFC. He currently sports a 10-2 career mark with six of his victories coming by way of (technical) knockout.

And none more impressive than his absolute destruction of fellow wrestling standout Mark Munoz.

The date was March 7, 2009. The venue was the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. It was a card that many felt lacked a compelling main event (Quinton Jackson vs. Keith Jardine in a number one contender bout, at least for the former) but was overall an impressive fight card.

On top of "Rampage" vs. "The Dean of Mean," match-ups pitting Gray Maynard vs. Jim Miller and Shane Carwin vs. Gabriel Gonzaga were featured. That's a whole lot of heavy-hitters competing for fight night bonuses on the main card.

Surprisingly, it was Hamill that went out and stole the show.

When the fight booking was originally announced, it largely failed to incite confidence that it would deliver the excitement it eventually did. After all, two equally credentialed grapplers colliding in the cage would seemingly promise to cancel each other out.

Not at all.

"The Filipino Wrecking Machine" promised beforehand that this would not be a glorified wrestling match; no, he was going to go in, take his opponent down and simply pound him into oblivion.

If he actually believed those words, it was not evident come fight night. Munoz, who seemed gun shy at best and unsure at worst, perhaps on account of the fact that he was making his Octagon debut, worried not that he would be able to implement his gameplan on Hamill so much as Hamill would replicate it and implement it against him.

"The Hammer," however, was a lot less dependent on his wrestling, instead opting to shock and awe his foe with an overwhelming blitz of punches to throw Munoz off his game.

It worked.

There is no better measure of a man than how he reacts in the face of adversity. The usual response to an uncomfortable situation is to revert backwards, to regress to that which is fully ingrained within you.

In the case of Munoz, that meant shooting for takedowns with little to no setup, shots that were easily stuffed or quickly reversed. Panic, combined with inexperience, left the Black House product constantly backing up, never circling away and consistently finding himself trapped against the cage in highly undesirable positions.

He was, essentially, a sitting duck.

With just over a minute remaining in the opening round, Hamill made his move. Walking Munoz down, stalking him across the cage, the American faked low and went high, catching the Filipino with his hands down and delivering a devastating, jaw-cracking head kick that immediately separated Munoz from his senses.

The audible thud of foot connecting with face was sickening ... and sweet, sweet music at the same time.

To compound matters further, Munoz, who fell in a twisted heap, dropped his head directly onto his knee on the way down, adding insult to injury.

Hamill, once he was ripped off his foe by the referee, pounded his chest like a gorilla, the king of the Octagon jungle. And while he couldn't hear the crowd roar in appreciation, he could certainly see the fans on their feet showcasing their gratitude for the destruction he just unleashed for them.

On a card loaded with knockout artists, the wrestler took home the "Knockout of the Night" bonus and a cool $60,000 to go with it.

Munoz would immediately leave the light heavyweight division and reinvent himself as a top middleweight contender, who, as of right now, is a few wins away from a title shot.

That fact rings true for Hamill, as well, as he prepares to face the toughest test of his career at UFC 130 on May 28 in Las Vegas when he goes toe-to-toe with Quinton Jackson.

And if "Rampage" thinks he's just a wrestler, he need look no further than Hamill's legendary knockout of Mark Munoz to prove otherwise.

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