In recent interviews, Jackson made headlines when he said he wasn't particularly excited to face Hamill. On a Thursday teleconference, Jackson said that wasn't unusual for him, as he no longer gets excited about facing anyone. But, he also added that changed a bit when Hamill commented recently that he knew he was "going to break his will."
"My main motivation is to win," he said, "but I think Matt made a mistake when he said he's going to break my will and I'm going to overlook him. That lit a fire up under my ass. That made me train a little bit harder so I can break his will, and make sure I can outclass him."
Jackson admitted that was the just the pick-me-up he needed to spark him.
"Honestly in the beginning, fighting him, I wasn't 100 percent motivated as I would be vs. someone who had beaten me before or something like that," he said. "But when he said that, that motivated me as much as I've been motivated in a fight."
Jackson (31-8) is coming off a split decision win over Lyoto Machida, and might find himself in the title picture with a win over Hamill, a possibility he said is "the last thing on my mind."
For his part, Hamill (10-2) said his comments stemmed from his belief that Jackson would overlook him. Over the last several years, almost all of Jackson's fights have come against top five fighters, a level he has yet to reach. Jackson said that in preparation, he's worked overtime on his wrestling, acknowledging that he "really respects" his opponent's prowess in that part of the game while shooting back, "I feel I'm a pretty decent MMA wrestler, too."
Hamill and his manager Duff Holmes alluded to their potential game plan, with Holmes saying "He's going to be out-wrestled and he's going to be taken down. There's just no way around it." Later, when asked if he felt Jackson has concentrated on his boxing to the detriment of the rest of his MMA skills, Hamill said, "Yeah, that's why I want him."
A win over Jackson would be the biggest of Hamill's career, and thrust him into the title picture with a six-fight win streak. With so much at stake it might be easy to look ahead, but Hamill is trying to focus on the job at hand.
"I've always tried to take it one fight at a time," he said. "I feel like I'm in the semifinals of a wrestling bracket. And I've never lost in the semifinals of a wrestling bracket."
With his time running short, Jackson too admitted there is some importance in going after the belt again, but also wanted to continue to leave fans with memories from a crowd-pleasing style, even if they didn't necessarily understand why he might not be around much longer.
"If anybody's smart, they want to have an exit plan from MMA or any full contact sport," he said. "You can tell which fans are smart and which ones are kind of ignorant if they just think you're going to fight and just be done. What happens after you get done fighting? Just run away? I don't understand what they think. That stuff doesn't bother me at all. It's my life, it's my family I take care of. I have my goals and my plans. Things I want to do to make me happy. That's all I care about is me and my family. The fans? I'm just here to entertain them, but do I care about them the same way as I care about my family? Hell no."