UFC light heavyweight Matt “The Hammer” Hamill toppled his former coach and MMA pioneer Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz last night at UFC 121 in Anaheim, California after surviving an early surge from the former light heavyweight champ. Ortiz talked about the loss at the post-fight press conference and noted that the time off may have been a factor in the loss.
“Taking a year off… that really matters,” said Ortiz. “Having neck surgery, that really matters. But I’m proud of myself for even getting in here and competing against a person like Matt Hamill and how tough he is.”
At the very first bell Ortiz rushed Hamill with kicks and punches that put the deaf wrestler on his heels. “The Hammer” adjusted quickly though, scooping Ortiz up off of a kick and depositing him on the canvas. Ortiz popped back up and even though he landed the higher volume of strikes for the rest of the first round, Hamill clearly delivered more damage; leaving Ortiz bleeding and swollen heading back to his corner.
“The first round, I didn’t pull the trigger,” Ortiz admitted. “I hit him with some shots, and I should have continued on.”
Hamill came out in the second looking more at ease with his striking, landing kicks and punches that looked to be slowing Ortiz. Once Hamill decided to take Ortiz down, he smothered the brash Californian and damaged with elbows and punches for the remainder of the round. The third round saw both fighters slowing their respective attacks but Hamill still held the edge in the stand up department. After Ortiz failed on a takedown attempt of his own, “The Hammer” dumped Ortiz to the ground again and rode out the rest of the round landing shots and controlling from the top position.
“It’s not even close to the end of my career,” Ortiz said. “The decision might be in Dana’s hands, but I’ve gone through some surgeries that people don’t come back. I feel great. Besides my face being a little sore, I feel fine. I have no more neck problems, no more back problems.”
Ortiz hopes to fight again in the UFC, and said that he plans to go back to his roots.
“I need to get back to wrestling. I need to get back to my roots… I’m not a quitter. I’m going to continue on. It sucks to lose because I let down a lot of my fans. I let down the UFC. I let down Dana, but I want to prevail. It sucks having losses, but I’m a person to suck it up and carry on. I’ve been in this game for 13 years. I still feel like I have a lot more in me.”
With the win, Hamill makes it five in a row inside the Octagon (with one win coming by way of disqualification-illegal elbows over Jon Jones) and 10-2 as a professional overall. Ortiz falls to 0-4-1 in his last five but claimed no excuses at the post-fight press conference, calling Hamill the better man and pledging to return with a win.
Thanks to Mark Wayne for contributing to this article.