Matt Hamill may not have fought his greatest fight against Rich Franklin at UFC 88, but he went two rounds and change before succumbing to some brutal body kicks. That’s not the outcome you want if you’re Hamill, but there’s no shame in that, right? Not so, says Hamill’s trainer, Duff Holmes (if in fact that is his real name). He blasted Hamill’s performance in an interview with Fightline.com, suggesting that Hamill didn’t have his mind right going into the fight and questioning his “fighting spirit,” among other things:
“I practically begged Matt to take Rich down,” said a clearly frustrated Holmes. “I was screaming at him to stop fighting Rich’s fight and fight his fight. I can’t explain it. He just had this blank look on his face. I don’t know where he was, but the Matt Hamill that I know and trained for the past 11 weeks was not in that octagon on Saturday.”
“Reports that Matt wasn’t able to take Rich down are completely false. Matt didn’t shoot once the whole fight. He didn’t try. Matt Hamill is one of the most physically gifted athletes in the UFC. He has double leg takedown that’s like he’s shot out of a cannon. The guy is an animal; unfortunately that’s not the Matt Hamill that showed up on Saturday. He didn’t work the game plan.”
“I can’t explain it,” said Holmes. “The only person that knows why he didn’t come out to fight is him. I told him after the fight that his performance was uncharacteristic and that he really needed to do some soul searching to see if this is really what he wants to do. He had absolutely no fighting spirit, no killer instinct. He looked like a shell of himself and was just out there to get through it and that is very disconcerting.”
“Rich performed great and showed a lot of class in victory. All his guys, Matt Hume, Neil Rowe, and our buddies Rob Radford and Jorge Grugel all were very gracious and supportive. Matt loves those guys…Matt has this nice guy image, and it’s well deserved. He is truly one of the nicest, most sincere, genuine people you’ll ever meet. I think he got out there and found out that he couldn’t fight his friend. Unfortunately, this information would have been much more useful to us months ago. We would have never taken the fight if we knew that to be the case.”
“As it stands, Matt has too many outside distractions. If he wants to continue fighting and show what he’s capable of, what he shows everyday in practice, the champion that I know he can be, then he needs to do some serious soul searching and see if this is what he really wants to do. Matt lost this fight because of his mentality and nothing else. It was all mental. He let the UFC down, he let his fans down, he let his camp and trainers down and, most importantly, he let himself down. We’re planning on getting him in with a sports psychologist soon to figure this all out.”
Being disappointed in your fighter for not following the game plan? That’s understandable. Bashing him in the media and saying he let everyone down? That seems…counterproductive.
For one thing, that was Hamill’s sixth professional MMA fight. Whatever you think of his wrestling career, the fact is he’s still fairly inexperienced as an MMA fighter. Deviating from the game plan is the type of mistake that inexperienced fighters often make. Franklin has nearly thirty fights to his credit. He’s been a UFC champion and has plenty of big fight experience under his belt. There’s no shame in losing to him. Certainly, Hamill needs to learn from that loss, but how is berating him in public helping him do that?
Bad form, Duff Holmes. Maybe you just wanted people to know that you had constructed a better strategy for your fighter than the one we saw, but it’s not worth further embarrassing him over.