At UFC 121 in Anaheim, teacher will literally meet pupil, when former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) contestant Matt Hamill takes on his TUF coach Tito Ortiz.
Despite Ortiz being a three time light Heavyweight Champion, this match-up is much closer than anyone would imagine.
First of all Ortiz has a very good understanding of Hamill's strengths and weaknesses from coaching him. He should also know how to get into his head during a fight.
Ortiz is still not much of a threat on his feet, so he will have to figure out a way to get Hamill down. If I were Ortiz I'd be watching and re-watching the takedown clinic Jon Jones put on during his fight with Hamill.
While Hamill's wrestling is very strong, he is susceptible to trips and sweeps and if Ortiz can add some of those to his arsenal for this fight, he'll have a good chance of inflicting his trademark ground and pound.
It's also key for Ortiz to avoid Hamill's kicks. Most of us have already forgotten Hamill's KO of the Night against Mark Munoz via head kick. Of the two, Hamill is much more accomplished, and comfortable standing up than Ortiz is. So Ortiz will have to use the cage and "Octagon control" to cut off the angles and close distance.
I don't think Ortiz has much hope of finishing this fight, so he'll want to pace himself. Knowing that he can't finish Hamill will affect Ortiz's gameplan and may result in a boring "lay and pray" strategy by the former champion. So on second thought, don't respect Hamill's stand up Tito, you stood with Chuck Lidell. The Iceman!
Another underrated factor in this fight is how Tito rebounds from his recent neck surgery that caused him to have to pull out of his fight with Lidell. We still don't know how that surgery affected Ortiz's cardio, or maneuverability on the ground. If Ortiz is still limited, he may have real problems. So add stay healthy to the Ortiz gameplan.
All in all if Ortiz is to win, it will be a grind it out type of affair. He'll keep the fight on the ground as much as possible and look for openings to attack as he doesn't have to really respect Hamill's jiu-jitsu. At the end of three rounds, Tito will have won a unanimous decision but done little to no damage to his former student.
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