Sunday, March 4, 2007

Loveland native Hamill gets TKO

By Chad Edward

COLUMBUS - West Chester fighter Rich Franklin and Loveland High School alumnus Matt Hamill returned to the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon Saturday night in Columbus.

Hamill improved his mixed martial arts record to 3-0 with a first-round TKO victory.

His opponent was former Ohio State Division I national wrestling champion and Columbus native Rex Holman. But it was Hamill who enjoyed the overwhelming support of the 18,000 fans in attendance at Nationwide Arena.

Hamill ignited the action early by landing a flying "Superman" punch that left a cut on the bridge of Holman's nose. Holman countered with kicks to Hamill's thighs as Hamill advanced.

The two former wrestlers clinched only twice, with neither fighter overpowering the other. Hamill pressed his boxing advantage with snapping jabs and straights to Holman's nose, while Holman came up short with awkward upper cuts to counter.

As the first round neared three minutes, Holman, 38, appeared winded. Hamill connected with a straight that dropped his opponent, who clutched onto Hamill from the mat. But Holman couldn't pull the better-conditioned fighter down and Hamill unloaded strikes to the side of Holman's head.

The fight was stopped by the referee at four minutes of the first round with Holman lying prone, Hamill straddling his back, punching Holman's head.

Hamill's two previous fights in the UFC, both victories, resulted in a first-round TKO and a three-round unanimous decision.

Hamill is a three-time Division III national wrestling champion and gold medalist in Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling at the World Games for the Deaf. After high school in Loveland, he attended Purdue University before transferring to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y. Hamill attends competitions for deaf athletes and is widely regarded as one of the most successful deaf athletes of his time.

Hamill also plans to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Franklin, a former Oak Hills High School mathematics teacher, was to compete later Saturday night.


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