Hamill viewed as underdog at sports books, but not by UFC peers

Las Vegas sports books might not be giving Matt Hamill much of a chance in tonight’s UFC 130 main event against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, but several of his peers believe the Loveland, Ohio native could very well shock the world.

Hall of Famer Randy Couture as well as UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar &mdash whose bulging disc injury, along with Gray Maynard’s knee injury actually opened the door for Hamill to get the biggest fight of his career &mdash believe that Hamill could pull off the upset at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“I know Matt pretty well so I’m a little biased, obviously, but I’m going to go with him. I think his will to win and takedown ability will give fits to Rampage,” said Edgar of Hamill, who is a +220 underdog at the MGM Grand’s book.

Couture, a former Olympic wrestling team alternate, also backs Hamill, who was a three-time NCAA Division III National Champion.

“Hamill has the tools to beat Rampage. I think his wrestling base gives him an advantage and he can exploit holes in Rampage’s game,” Couture said.

But UFC middleweight Michael Bisping &mdash who handed Hamill his first pro loss, a controversial split decision win at UFC 75 in London in September of 2007 &mdash believes in his teammate, Jackson.

“I know people are worried about Rampage being in shape, but I was in L.A. training with him and he’s in the best shape he’s been in for maybe four fights. Hamill is very tough and it will be a good fight, but I think Rampage wins this,” said Bisping, who will serve as a coach on the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter alongside Jason “Mayhem” Miller.

“Hamill is very tough and is very hard to set yourself against. He’s improved a lot since we fought, too, and I actually like it when he does well. He’s very strong, very physically powerful, but I’ve never felt any strength like Rampage. He’s freakishly powerful.”

Both Hamill and Jackson weighed in right at the 205-pound light heavyweight mark Friday afternoon.

Las Vegas natives Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, who will fight in the co-main event tonight, both tipped the scale at 260 pounds.

The pros are split pretty evenly on the two heavyweights, who have downplayed their casual friendship &mdash Mir and Nelson have trained with each other in the past &mdash to media members all week.

Edgar and 205-pound champ Jon Jones like Mir.

“I’ll go with Frank Mir. He’s a personal friend of mine and he’s more well-versed with his techniques,” Jones said.

Meanwhile Cain Velazquez, the heavyweight champ who hasn’t faced either fighter in his career, sides with Nelson.

“Watching ‘Big Country’ versus (Junior) dos Santos, I saw the kind of heart that Roy had to gut it out. I just see him doing the same with Frank for the whole fight, making it a tough fight for Mir. So I’m going to go with Big Country by decision,” Velazquez said.

The first session of the preliminary card — Renan Barao (135 pounds) vs. Cole Escovedo (135), Chris Cariaso (135) vs. Michael McDonald (136), Rafaello Oliveira (155) vs. Gleison Tibau (155) — can be viewed on Facebook.com at 3 p.m. Additional matches between Demetrious Johnson (135.5) vs. Miguel Torres (135.5) and Tim Boetsch (186) vs. Kendall Grove (185) round at the preliminary fights and can be watched on Spike TV at 5 p.m. .

The pay-per-view portion of the card — Jorge Santiago (185) vs. Brian Stann (186), Thiago Alves (170) vs. Rick Story (170), Travis Browne (247) vs. Stefan Struve (255), Frank Mir (260) vs. Roy Nelson (260), Matt Hamill (205) vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (205) — starts at 6 p.m.



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