Out with the old, in with the new. Only a week after releasing Walt Harris from their heavyweight ranks, it appears that the UFC has picked up the next up and coming big man. One who was, in fact, himself a victim of Harris' own rise to the UFC. Current MFC heavyweight champion Anthony Hamilton has reportedly signed a deal to fight Russo-ukranian debutee Oleksiy Oliynyk at UFC Fight Night San Antonio on June 28. MMABoxing.ru has the story.
Who is Anthony Hamilton?
A Jackson-Winklejohn and Ivan Salaverry MMA fighter, the 33 year Old Hamilton comes to the UFC with a record of 12-2. Most recently he defended his heavyweight title for the first time, defeating TUF 10 veteran Darrill Schoonover at MFC 39. Hamilton was an NJCAA All-American for Highline Community College back in 2000, so he's got a decent base skill set for his training. To date, his biggest wins are over Smealinho Rama, to win the MFC heavyweight title, and his defense against Schoonover. His other steps up in competition have resulted in losses, both to UFC vets, in Walt Harris and Fabiano Scherner.
What you should expect:
Hamilton may be big, at 6' 5" 262 lbs, but he's not "rangy." At least, not in terms of striking where he tends to use his boxing as a means to getting into the clinch. He does throw some decent kicks, both at range and in combination, but does his best work inside. He keeps his hands up and chin down and moves in and out of range well at times, but he's not an offensive dynamo. If he can't comfortably throw combinations he tends to get a bit wild and hittable as he tries to close in for predictable clinches. Once he's gotten inside, Hamilton has a nice variety of body lock takedowns, often using his superior size for leverage in spinning and dragging his opponents to the mat. He doesn't have a great outside shot, so he's not a pure wrestling threat, but he's effective if he can punch his way inside.
Unfortunately, Hamilton is not terribly heavy on top once he gets there. He had a lot of trouble maintaining consistent control on Smealinho Rama in their fight. And Schoonover was often able to make his way back to his feet as well. His gas tank looks to be better than the standard heavyweight class, but not way better and he definitely drops off noticeably in production as the fight wears on.
What this means for his debut:
Hamilton has an exceptionally tough nut to crack in facing Oleksiy Oliynyk. Oliynyk is exactly the kind of seasoned, polished heavyweight who could trouble Hamilton, both with his dynamic, power punching and his tricky submission game. The big question will be if Hamilton can impose his size on Oliynyk and open up an opportunity for the TKO. He'll be 5 inches and 20 lbs larger than his opponent. If he can't make that advantage work for him, he'll be hard pressed to win this fight.
To get us better acquainted, here's a look at Hamilton's recent fight with Smealinho Rama: