The stage is now set for the semi-finals, and team Ortiz hopes theyll continue to ride their momentum wave after they dominated the preliminary round with a record of 6-2. Ortiz star pupil, Matt Hamill, was finally in action last night as he faced Mike Nickels to close out the opening round of competition, and its no secret Tito expects big things from his #1 pick.
The stage is now set for the semi-finals, and team Ortiz hopes theyll continue to ride their momentum wave after they dominated the preliminary round with a record of 6-2. Ortiz star pupil, Matt Hamill, was finally in action last night as he faced Mike Nickels to close out the opening round of competition, and its no secret Tito expects big things from his #1 pick. As expected, Matt advanced to the next round by defeating Mike via unanimous decision, but it certainly wasnt in the convincing fashion most fans were likely expecting.
During a team Shamrock training session, Mike Nickels revealed he was pretty certain that he would be taken down in the fight by the wrestling machine, however, with two years of submission fighting he felt he would be comfortable fighting from his back. In addition, Shamrock seemed to believe his fighter was tailor made to defeat a wrestler like Matt, as hes seen too many world-class wrestlers unable to defend triangles, and arm-bars once the fight hits the ground.
With Danny now eliminated and no longer in the house, Matt appears to have come out of his shell and seems a little more personable with the other guys. There isnt quite a bonding yet, but Matt is certainly making more of an attempt to fit in with the guys.
Michael Bisping was initially rooting against his own teammate, as he wanted Mike to eliminate Matt because Bisping acknowledged hes not a good wrestler and would have a better chance of advancing to the finals if he faced someone like Nickels. That being said, in preparation for Matts upcoming fight he was working against Bisping in a training session and it was obvious the two were getting very intense. Bisping caught Matt in an arm-bar and instead of tapping, Hamill tried to fight through it and hyper extended his arm in the process. A number of the guys on the team came over to Matt and told him theres no shame in tapping if youre unable to escape from a submission, but that seemed lost on Matt as he contemplated how he would prepare for his fight with an injured arm.
Afterwards, there were a few tense moments as Matt wouldnt speak to anybody, and during a later training session some of the other guys were now picking on Matt because he wasnt as dominant with only one arm. Therefore, Saul Soliz stepped in and delivered a very inspiring speech about how everyone on the team has benefited from working out with a world-class wrestler like Matt, as theyre all in a better position to be able to defend against someone shooting in on them. Sauls pep talk certainly hit home with Bisping as he realized he hadnt been a true teammate to Matt, and later apologized and wished him well in his fight.
Just prior to his fight, Matt spoke with Saul about the fact he didnt feel as though he could take Mike down with only one arm, and was also very concerned about getting caught in a triangle. Hamill felt like he would rather keep the fight standing and try to win a striking contest against Nickels, Saul just advised him to do what he felt most comfortable with.
When the fight gets under way, it becomes quite obvious Matt is going to employ the strategy he talked over with Saul, as Mike hit the ground early and instead of taking advantage of his downed opponent, Matt moved back and gestured for Mike to stand back up. Later, Matt was able to work a cobra choke from the side mount but once he lost the hold, he again stood right back up and got himself away from any type of submission attempt. When the fight was on the feet, Matt pretty much chased and hunted Mike around the cage, and was clearly pressing the action when the round came to and end.
The second round began similar to how the first round ended, with Matt still hunting Mike but Shamrock was now convinced that Matt wouldnt shoot in started calling for Mike to throw knees and high kicks, unfortunately Mike wasnt able to execute Shamrocks advice. There was a brief moment of hope for Mike who was clearly behind on the scorecards, as from his back he tried to secure a knee bar but Matt remained calm and was able to escape. The fight came to a close when Mike tried one last submission attempt from the bottom, a kimura that Matt successfully defended against. When the final bell sounded all 3 judges scored the bout 20-18 for Matt, however, after the fight Matt was having problems breathing and was taken to the hospital for observation.
Fighters remaining in the Competition
Jesse Forbes (Advanced to Semi Finals)
Matt Hamill (Advanced to Semi Finals)
Mike Bisping (Advanced to Semi Finals)
Josh Haynes (Advanced to Semi Finals)
Kalib Starnes (Advanced to Semi Finals)
Ed Herman (Advanced to Semi Finals)
Rory Singer (Advanced to Semi Finals)
Kendall Groves (Advanced to Semi Finals)