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Ready to Rumble: Redmond's Hamilton wants to grab CageSport heavyweight title
Count to seven.
That's how long it took Anthony Hamilton to dispatch of Mike Riddell in a CageSport bout on Nov. 3. First, there was some maneuvering and a Hamilton jab to create some distance between the two fighters. And then came the big blow: an overhand right punch to the "button" of Riddell's chin. Lights out. A knockout victory.
"Fortunately, I've never had that happen to me. You do get a flash when you get (punched hard)," said Hamilton, a 32-year-old Redmond native and MMA (mixed martial arts) professional fighter. "You don't want anything bad to happen to anybody. When that happens (a knockout), you hope that they're going to get through it OK."
On Saturday night, Hamilton — a 6-foot-5, 265-pound former All-American wrestler and college football player — will take to the cage again for a CageSport XXII heavyweight title clash with Bill Widler from California at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma.
"That guy's gonna be pretty tough — he's not coming up here to lose," said Hamilton, who is 7-2 as a professional fighter, following a 4-0 amateur career. Widler — who will enter the cage at 6-2, 235 — sports a 5-3 record heading into Saturday's scheduled five rounds of action.
"These two guys are as hard hitting as they come and fans will surely be pleased by the excitement these fighters bring to the cage," reads event promoter Halquist Productions' press release.
Hamilton became interested in cage fighting in late 2007 after training in jujitsu and kick boxing. Mix in his athletic prowess on the wrestling mat from junior high through college and as a tight end on the football field along the way, and Hamilton was ready to rumble in the cage.
"I always kept my eye on it and watched Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on TV in college," said Hamilton, who attended Kentwood High School, Highline Community College and Central Washington University.
Later, he competed at some NFL combines and nearly made the roster for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. But his dream of toughing it out on a professional level never diminished. He often saw some of the guys he played against on the gridiron participating in fighting events on TV and that motivated him to give it a shot.
"I was an engineer for a while — I was too young to be sitting behind a computer," said Hamilton, who lived in Redmond through his elementary school years before moving to Kent. He currently resides in Newcastle.
Since entering the MMA realm, Hamilton has fought in Albuquerque, NM, Las Vegas, Nev., and in Washington. Last December, he defeated Matt Kovacs for the Rumble on the Ridge 21 heavyweight title at the Snoqualmie Casino.
Hamilton, who trains at Lee's Martial Arts in Renton, said that visualizing each bout from start to finish is one of the keys to his success. He harkens back to his wrestling days for motivation during his MMA bouts.
"It teaches you a lot about discipline and how to overcome adversity. It's a team sport, but individually you only advance if you win — you decide how your career is going," he said of wrestling. "(MMA) is great. I've been athletic my whole life and I feel it's definitely a challenge for me… you try to build upon the things you did well and fix the things you do wrong."
As Hamilton's career progresses, he hopes to one day "get a call to the big show," meaning taking the step up from CageSport to the high-profile world of UFC, Bellator or Strikeforce fighting.
Taking down Widler this Saturday is at the top of his fist-wielding wish list for now, and he feels he's ready both physically and mentally.
"My game plan is to keep myself calm and motivated, spend time with my family and try to stay positive," Hamilton said.
Doors for CageSport XXII open at 6 p.m. with the first fight scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets, starting at $35, can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at the Emerald Queen Casino box office.