Monday, October 25, 2010

Odds of Ortiz Getting his Head Softened

During the third season of the hit show The Ultimate Fighter, Matt Hamill, a world-class, medal-winning collegiate and Olympian wrestler, won the hearts and minds of the fighting world when, despite his disability (deaf), he proved to be a beast in the octagon. Although Matt had to drop out of the season due to injuries, he returned for the Spike TV finale and defeated Jesse Forbes by KO.

Since then, Matt has been one of the more likeable fighters in the UFC. Although his fights are few and far between, Hamill gives his all when he’s in the ring, and with one of the more vicious ground games ever seen in the sport in terms of straight wrestling, this ox-strong 34-year-old is more than a threat.

After losing in a controversial decision to his friend and fellow TUF 3 costar Michael Bisping on The Count’s home turf, Hamill all but faded away from headlining fights. He’s coming back for UFC 121, however, against the always big-mouthed and maybe-past-his-prime Tito “Yes, I Can… Beat Shamrock” Ortiz.

Ortiz knows Hamill well. He was Matt’s coach on TUF 3 and trained him for a while after. However, Tito made some pretty unsavory comments about Hamill, suggesting that, because Matt’s deaf, he has a “soft head.”

Matt’s trainer and Hamill himself have both stated that there’s no bad blood over the comment, and Tito has since apologized, but what does something like that do to the odds of the fight?

Realistically, the odds of the fight are still looking about like a 3:1 bet at roulette online, with Hamill edging out Tito -170 to +140. However, the motivation factor cannot be downplayed.

Other than being a very technical boxer and having a spectacular ground game, eerily similar to a younger Ortiz, Matt also has freakish power. He is to MMA what Tim Lincecum is to MLB – a guy whose arm packs an unexplainable wallop.

One of the biggest criticisms Hamill faced after losing that controversial decision to Bisping was that he never seemed to want to “fight” Michael. Matt seemed more intent to try to “out-technical” his opponent instead of getting down and dirty and using his advantages.

But since Ortiz has lit a fire under Matt by insulting the deaf community, smart money is on Matt coming out like the beast we all know he can be.

Prediction: by the time Hamill is done with Tito’s head, Ortiz will wish he’d had stayed back in the locker room to play baccarat online instead of stepping into the octagon with a determined and skillful Hamill.

If fighters live by any rule, it should be this: never wake a sleeping giant. Past his prime and facing an opponent capable of some freakish mystery strength, Tito might be in ZZ land before round two is over.