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Matt Hamill Putting Friendship With Tito Ortiz Aside Tonight

The Ultimate Fighter season 3 alum Matt Hamill will look to improve his professional MMA record to 10-2 tonight when he takes on his TUF 3 coach Tito Ortiz on the main card of UFC 121. Hamill spoke to recently about the match up and about how he feels fighting his friend and former mentor Tito Ortiz.

“Tito has fought a lot of good fighters and he has had amazingly close fights,” Hamill said. “But I’m not thinking about his record or what his own mindset coming into this fight is. I’m just focusing on fine-tuning my own skills and my own mindset.”

Hamill told MMAFighting that, while he holds the utmost respect for Ortiz, he is making sure to put any amicable feelings towards “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” on hold in order to avoid the tentativeness that he believes impacted his 2008 TKO loss to friend Rich Franklin.

“This is a big test for me and what I am capable of,” Hamill said. “I had to get the mindset of our friendship out of the door when I learned who I was fighting. It’s business. I don’t want to make the same mistakes I did with Rich Franklin. In the cage, (Ortiz) will be my opponent – nothing else.”

Ortiz and Hamill developed a bond during the taping of TUF 3, where Ortiz took the MMA-inexperienced wrestler under his wing to teach him the tools of the trade. Hamill, now some four years removed from his graduation from the TUF house, said that he and Ortiz have drifted in recent years but that he hopes to keep things amicable after they fight this weekend.

“We were pretty close back then, but life gets in the way,” Hamill said. “We lost touch the last couple years, only touching base once in a while. And since learning of this fight, there has been no contact. I’m a friendly, open-minded person. When it comes to business that night, I will put everything aside until after the fight. I can’t predict what the outcome will be between us after the fight. Hopefully, there will be no bad blood – I do have a level of respect for Tito as my former coach and mentor.”

At the end of the day, Hamill looks at his fight with Ortiz as an opportunity to continue climbing the light heavyweight ranks.

“Fighting Tito is a big stepping stone for me,” Hamill said. “My goal is to be one of the top 10 fighters in the world. A win over Tito would be a huge boost in my career.”

UFC 121 goes down tonight at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and will feature a main event pitting UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar against challenger Cain Velasquez. As always, will provide live coverage of the event.