Dana White has called this fight "career-defining" should Matt Hamill upset Quinton Jackson at UFC 130. That's not the promoterspeak talking, either. If we're excluding Hamill's "victory" over Jon Jones in December of '09 (as any sound person would), Hamill's best win is between UFC washout Keith Jardine (sub-.500 in his UFC career) or a faded Tito Ortiz (winless since euthanizing Ken Shamrock in 2006). Hamill's two fights against low-A/high-B level fighters have resulted in defeat, though his 2007 decision loss to Michael Bisping still generates debate.
Quinton Jackson, on the other hand, is 39 fights into a storied career. That career includes opponents like Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Lyoto Machida, all of whom share the distinction of holding a major title at some point.
Hamill is a limited fighter, carried by a strong wrestling game and heavy hands. His flaws are numerous: he carries his hands too low, his movement is plodding, he refuses to move laterally, he reacts poorly to strikes directed at his head, he slows down in the latter portion of the fight.
Jackson is a fighter who once relied on wrestling early in his career -- garnering the "King of the Slams" moniker over in Japan -- and who now chooses to box. As I noted yesterday, his footwork is clean, and he does a good job of forcing his opponents to fight with their back near the fence. He's among the hardest hitters in the division, holding impressive knockouts over Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell.
Jackson's flaws revolve around his self-described laziness. Two of his losses -- to Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans -- can be attributed to showing up to fights overweight. An overweight Jackson is slower in the cage and less likely to implement an aggressive gameplan.
He also refuses to check leg kicks, which got him into trouble against Forrest Griffin when a well-placed kick took his left knee out of commission.
To Jackson's benefit, he appears to be in great shape for this fight, and Hamill isn't known for his lower-body attacks.
"Rampage's" other glaring weakness, however, might come in to play. He's limited off his back, and that's something Hamill needs to exploit if he wants any chance at winning this fight.
At the time of writing, Jackson stood at a mean (average) favorite of -253/+250, which is a line I like. I'm not worried about Jackson's last performance against a wrestler, when Rashad Evans was able to take him down three times combined in the first and third rounds. Evans is not only a faster and more athletic wrestler than Hamill, but he is also one of the better fighters in the sport who sets up his takedowns with strikes, which is a skill we've yet to see with consistency from Hamill.
Hamill's wrestling makes his a threat in a three-round fight, but I like Jackson winning around 75% of the time here. If you're aggressive, take him up 'til -300. For the risk-averse, shop for lines between -250 and -260. Expect Jackson to pressure Hamill, taking out Hamill's offensive wrestling in the process.