Matt Hamill is a rising star in the UFC’s light heavyweight division and was on the losing end of one of the most talked about and controversial decisions in UFC history.
At UFC 75, Hamill squared off against then undefeated Micheal Bisping in Bisping’s hometown of London, England. The two fought to a split decision favoring Bisping; which drew a chorus of boo’s from fans packed inside of London’s O2 arena. Many felt that Hamill, who was also undefeated at the time, was the better man that night and the victim of a “hometown” decision.
A promised rematch never materialized and Bisping has since dropped to middleweight, so the likelihood of the two meeting again appears remote at this time.
Fightline.com caught up with Hamill to discuss the fallout from his fight with Bisping, his upcoming match up against Stephan Bonnar, the advantages of being a deaf fighter and much more.
Fightline.com: After your “loss” to Micheal Bisping, Dana White promised a rematch. This never materialized and now Bisping has moved down to fight in the UFC’s middleweight division. Did the UFC ever give you a reason as to why you weren’t given a rematch vs.
Hamill: There was never a reason given as to why there wasn’t a rematch. I guess all the hype over it just faded away and then Bisping dropped down in weight class. Personally, I was not satisfied with my performance against him.. I wasn’t at my best overall because of my knee injury and I would have liked a re-match but its out of my hands.
Fightline.com: What are your thoughts on Bisping’s move down to middleweight. Do you think he may be attempting to avoid you and have you thought about moving down to face him at middleweight?
Hamill: I hear rumors that he did that to avoid me but I don’t know about that. As a fighter, maybe he felt that was the best career choice for him. I have no room to drop down to 185 myself. If I did I’d be a toothpick.
Fightline.com: There has been some confusion about which camp you fight at. Are you still with Team Punishment and Tito Ortiz?
Hamill: I did train with Team Punishment for a short time following TUF 3. I appreciate the support and the help that I received from Team Punishment and Tito Ortiz. He is like family to me, however, I couldn’t move out to CA because I didn’t want to leave my daughter. I have a great team here in Utica, NY.
My Trainer/Manager Duff Holmes handles my fight preparation, conditioning, strength training and nutrition. He helps me put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Tim Greene is my boxing coach, he’s been at it for thirty years. He trains several pro boxers and he has had a huge impact on my stand up. Bruno Tostes is my BJJ coach. He’s an amazing
grappler out of Renzo Gracie’s team and a great instructor. He has really opened my eyes to submissions. Master Seng is my Muay Tai coach. He’s a two-time word Muay Tai champion and known and respected all over the world. He’s given me a whole new prospective on striking. I have an excellent team behind me and some great guys to train with. I’m learning something new everyday.
Fightline.com: Tito Ortiz has spoken out about the UFC’s poor treatment of it’s fighters. What are your thoughts on the UFC’s issues with fighters and how has your experience with the UFC and Dana White been so far?
Hamill: I have no idea what is going on with that. I haven’t heard anything personally from the fighters that are complaining. I have had no personal issues with Dana White.
Fightline.com: You are known as a great wrestler. How is the rest of your MMA game shaping up?
My MMA is improving with each day of training. My confidence in my skills is up there and I am ready for this upcoming fight and I can’t wait to show the UFC fans what I have accomplished this last year.
Fightline.com: Your set to face Stephan Bonnar at UFN 13 in Colorado. In an interview he did recently on fighthype.com he stated the following:
“If he wants to stand with me…great! If he takes me down I’ll sub him from there too.” He also went on to say,”I think I have the striking edge and submissions over him, so more than likely, I will get a knockout or a submission.” What are your thoughts on these comments and on Stephan Bonnar in general?
Hamill: Stephen Bonnar is a great fighter and I am honored to be able to stand with him in the cage and fight him. I just feel this will be a good match and that’s all I will say about it.
Fightline.com: Can you explain to people that don’t know, a little bit about being a deaf fighter?
Hamill: I have been deaf since birth so I don’t know any different, if I could hear or not. I think being deaf does allow me to concentrate on my matches and fights. In the ring all I see is the person in front of me. No other distractions whatsoever get in the way.
Fightline.com: Can you just tell us a little bit about your childhood and your personal life outside of MMA?
Hamill: I had the normal family life growing up. I was the only deaf child in the family but they didn’t treat me any different from the other kids. I am divorced and my ex-wife and I have a beautiful daughter, Tierra. She is my life.
Fightline.com: It has been said that you do a lot of work with deaf children. Can you tell us a little bit about this?
Hamill: I go to schools for the deaf and do motivational speaking for them.. to tell them that their disability shouldn’t stop them from going after their dreams. It’s more difficult guaranteed, but the end result is well worth it. All children should believe in themselves, handicapped or not.
Fightline.com: You fight in a very difficult division with a lot of big name fighters. Who do you feel are the best fighters at the top of your division now and how do you feel that you match up against these fighters?
Hamill: I think that Rampage and Forrest Griffin are the best fighters in my division. I hope to one day get up to their level.
Fightline.com: You’ve been called a fan favorite and a fighter that many people enjoy watching. Who are some fighters that you enjoy watching as a fan?
Hamill: George St. Pierre is a good fighter that I like to watch. He seems to be very well rounded in all areas of MMA.
Fightline.com: We’ve heard a rumor that you’d like to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Is this true? Can you tell us a little bit about this?
Hamill: I have to train for one thing at a time and I chose to train for the April fight so that’s what I have decided. No Olympics for me this year.
Fightline.com: From Dan Severn to Randy Couture and the Team quest guys, to Matt Hughes and on down to Frank Edgar and Tyson Griffin, it seems that wrestlers have done very well in this sport. Now a new wrestler, Brock Lesnar, has decided to dedicate himself to the sport. How do you think he’ll do in MMA?
I watched him Saturday night and he is still learning. I feel with more time and training, he can do well.
We’d like to thank Matt Hamill’s sponsors for allowing him to concentrate on fighting.
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