When I look at how Matt Hamill matches up with Thiago Silva, it’s obvious that Hamill needs to take this fight to the ground if he wants to be a favorite to win. Hamill’s not a terrible striker, but with a significant strike ratio of 501-493, he hasn’t really separated himself from his collective opponents standing up. Hamill’s striking defense is particularly poor as he absorbs 3.53 significant strikes per minute. For a fighter like Hamill who has only scored one knockdown in the UFC, that strike ratio isn’t good enough.
If Silva is able to stuff Hamill’s takedown, the one possible saving grace for Hamill is that Silva secretly has a very bad chin. He’s been knocked down five times in the UFC and I was amazed he wasn’t knocked down by Rafael Feijao in his last fight. At the same time, Silva has shown much better striking power than Hamill, so a striking match would definitely favor Silva.
Hamill has the reputation of a great wrestler, but his takedown defense is a lot better than his takedown offense. In his UFC career, Hamill has only been taken down one time (by Jon Jones). That’s good for an effective defense rate of 92 percent. At the same time, Hamill has only completed his own takedown attempts 36 percent of the time. With 3.0 takedowns per 15 minutes, that puts Hamill in the same class as fighters like Demian Maia and Jake Shields – they can land takedowns if their opponent doesn’t have great takedown defense.
That’s where I think people are really overlooking Hamill’s chances of winning this fight. Silva’s takedown defense is good but not great at 69 percent. He has been taken down at least once in six different UFC fights. Rashad Evans took him down eight times in one fight. Hamill’s takedown offense isn’t as good as Evans, but I think it’s good enough to put Silva on his back. Sure, we remember Hamill failing takedown after takedown against Quinton Jackson, Alexander Gustafsson, and Jones… but those fighters all have elite takedown defense. Silva doesn’t.
Silva’s takedown defense is just good enough that it’s unclear who will win the takedown battle. If Hamill can get Silva down consistently then he’s a heavy favorite to win the fight. If Hamill completely fails to take Silva down then he’s likely to lose by TKO. The more likely scenario is that Hamill will land two takedowns, maybe three, and that puts the fight in doubt.
Based on general consensus online opinion, Hamill should get smoked by Silva, but I disagree with that opinion. Hamill might actually be one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. I don’t say that because he’s a world-beater or anything, but he’s a decent light-heavyweight. Reading what people say about him online, you would think Hamill is a bum who doesn’t belong in the promotion.
Hamill’s UFC losses have been against: Gustafsson, Jackson when he had something left in the tank, a still in his prime Rich Franklin, and Michael Bisping – and nobody liked that Bisping decision. (Of course, Hamill deserved a loss to Jon Jones too, but that doesn’t defeat my point.) He’s beaten everybody else. He’s not as awful as people think.
This is a coin-flip fight that hinges on how successful Hamill will be at landing takedowns. I could be a weenie and pick Silva to win in Brazil, but you know what? FPR slightly favors Hamill to win this fight and so will I.
Pick: Matt Hamill by decision