Mailbag: Hamill's inappropriate response

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Rarely has a fighter celebrated a victory as long and as exuberantly as Matt Hamill did after his victory Saturday over Mark Munoz in their light heavyweight fight at UFC 96 in Columbus, Ohio.

Hamill knocked Munoz out with one of the most devastating head kicks you'll ever see. He was rightly pleased with the win, which came in front of an appreciative crowd from his home state.

But Hamill's celebration needed to be tempered somewhat because of the seriousness of what was going on in the cage. Munoz appeared to be in serious trouble after the knockouts and doctors and paramedics were attending him.

He was given oxygen and nearly taken from the cage on a stretcher. All the while, Hamill was jumping around like he was on a pogo stick and celebrating like he'd just won the lottery.

He said at the post-fight news conference that he didn't realize Munoz was seriously injured, though it's hard to believe considering he was staring directly at Munoz crumpled in a heap with a large group of people working on him.

It's not a major blemish, particularly considering all the charity work Hamill does and the many good things those who know him say about his character.

But it was clearly in bad taste – and he was still celebrating in the hallway near the locker rooms, even as he passed where Munoz had been brought – and someone in his camp should have told him to curtail it.

With that, let's move along and delve into a very busy mailbag. My answers are in italics.

UPDATE ON MUNOZ

Can you update us on the condition of Mark Munoz? He looked real bad after getting caught by Matt Hamill at UFC 96 the other night.

D.H.
Philadelphia

It was indeed a troubling situation, watching Munoz on the ground for as long as he was there. But, fortunately, he's fine and will have no long-term issues.

CARWIN'S INEXPERIENCE SHOWED

There's no doubt Shane Carwin is a dangerous fighter, but I saw a lot of inexperience Saturday at UFC 96, as well as a number of big mistakes by Gabriel Gonzaga, not the least of which was protecting himself when they came out of the clinch. More than an impressive performance by Carwin, it was a shoddy, lackluster effort by Gonzaga. I'm not sold on Carwin as a future champ, although I wouldn't be surprised because he obviously has a tremendous amount of talent.

Jeremy M.
Davenport, Iowa

While I believe Carwin has much room to improve, it's also clear he's going to be a difficult match for most of the men at the top of the division. It's easy to see his mistakes, but who else handled Gonzaga the way he did? He's not a finished product by any means, but I do believe he's the real deal. Whether he makes it to the title depends upon how well he's able to correct his flaws and develop an overall MMA game.

CARWIN'S TITLE WORTHINESS

In your mailbag last week, you said you didn't think the winner of the Carwin-Gonzaga fight deserves a title shot. Don't you think Carwin has done more than what Brock Lesnar did to deserve a title shot? If a man with a 2-1 record gets a title shot, why not a man with an 11-0 record? I agree with the fact that they are new in the UFC, but I don't think it's fair to think that Lesnar was deserving of a title shot with just three fights, including one loss, and that Carwin with an impressive 11-0 record, is not.

Adin P.
Miami

Lesnar didn't earn his title shot by accomplishment. Clearly, he was chosen because the UFC realized he'd already become a massive pay-per-view attraction. At least he proved his worthiness, though, by winning the fight. Not all fighters can be judged by that standard, however. The UFC seriously considered naming the Carwin-Gonzaga winner the challenger for Lesnar at UFC 98 when it became clear last week that interim champion Frank Mir wouldn't have enough time after recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his knee to be ready to fight at UFC 98 on May 23. But I still believe Carwin needs to win at least one more fight over a quality opponent. I don't think victories over Christian Wellisch and Neil Wain are enough. The win over Gonzaga was huge, no doubt, but I think he'd need another one before being considered in that regard. It's a bit of a double standard as it relates to Lesnar, but it's a business as well as a sport and few sell tickets and pay-per-views as well as Lesnar.

DANA AND THE REFEREES

I'd like to know your opinion on the state of fight management in mixed martial arts after the late stoppage in the Matt Brown-Peter Sell fight Saturday at UFC 96. At UFC 92, I felt UFC president Dana White more or less savaged referee Steve Mazzagatti in the wake of the Mostapha Al Turk stoppage and gave him a very public vote of no confidence. While I agree that the beating Al Turk took at the hands of Cheick Kongo went on for far too long and acknowledge that others have been critical of Mazzagatti's officiating, I wasn't sure at the time that White's comments reflected well on his organization and indeed would go so far as to suggest that they set a dangerous precedent. If Mazzagatti isn't a quality referee, then why hire him and use him for so long? So it was with interest that I watched his recent reaction to the late stoppage by Yves Lavigne. Has he, to some degree, placed his organization in the spotlight on this issue? And if so, was he simply doing what any responsible president would do in acknowledging a difficult issue rather than trying to brush it under the carpet?

Sean M.
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Sean, there is a misconception here that needs to be cleared up. Dana White and the UFC have nothing to do with appointing, hiring, firing or directing officials. In the U.S., that is the purview of the relevant state athletic commission. So at UFC 92, the Nevada Athletic Commission appointed the officials. At UFC 96, that was down by the Ohio Athletic Commission. White was correctly critical of Lavigne's work, as well as that of Rick Fike's, on Saturday at UFC 96. Both made major blunders, which Lavigne admitted to the Canadian Press' Neil Davidson. "I did let Mr. Sell take maybe – not maybe – I let him take a beating for absolutely nothing,'' Lavigne told Davidson. "So I didn't do my job properly. So basically, I screwed up. I screwed up and I'm going to learn from it and try not to do it again." Have no doubt that White's opinion carries a lot of weight, but he does not make the call. Such is not the case in the U.K., where there is no regulatory body. This is a difficult situation. The UFC uses its vice president of regulatory affairs, Marc Ratner, the former executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, to appoint the officials as he would have when he was working for the NSAC. But though Ratner is one of the most honest and decent men alive, it's a conflict of interest to have him do that. In the U.S., though, the UFC has no power over any referee or judge.

OVERTURNING BAD CALLS

Is there any recourse for fighters who have had their fights altered by referee mistakes? At UFC 96, the fight between Shane Nelson and Aaron Riley had one of the worst stoppages I have ever seen. Later in the night, the referee grabbed Matt Brown to stop the fight, then changed his mind and ordered the fight to continue. Brown ended up winning anyway, but if he had lost that certainly would have been a huge scandal.

Eric C.
Cincinnati

Unfortunately for Aaron Riley, who lost when referee Rick Fike stopped his bout with Shane Nelson far too quickly, there is no recourse. It's a jjudgment call and a judgment call can't be overturned. The UFC could make a rematch, which I believe will occur.

RASHAD'S CHANCES

As much as I am looking forward to seeing the Rashad Evans-Rampage Jackson fight at UFC 98, especially given their "friendly" banter at the center of the octagon on Saturday, I have to say I am little more intrigued by an Evans-Lyoto Machida matchup. Both are extremely quick, well-rounded fighters with somewhat unconventional, but very effective standup games. Personally, I would favor Machida in this matchup due to his ability to seemingly frustrate all his opponents by hindering their timing in the standup game. As for Evans-Rampage, it's a tough call, but right now I would give a slight edge to Evans, though I would be rooting for my boy Jackson. What are your thoughts?

Neal S.
Chicago

I'd favor Machida over either man and, in May, I'd give a slight edge to Evans over Jackson. Jackson will have fought three times in less than five months if he takes the bout at UFC 98, and in a match so even, the wear and tear on his body could be the difference.

THE SAME DOLLAR?

I presume the fighter who will compete for the U.S. team in Season 9 of "The Ultimate Fighter" is not former UCLA basketball player Cameron Dollar? He's about the right age, as I think his last year at UCLA was a couple years ago. If it's not him, I can't believe there is another Cameron Dollar in the world who is also an athlete.

Rob R.
Cincinnati

They're two different people. The one who played for UCLA is now an assistant coach at the University of Washington and is 33 years old. The one who will fight on TUF is 21 years old.