Life is a journey. Sometimes it takes you places you never thought you’d go. Other times it alters your path completely.
UFC middleweight Jared Hamman knows this well. Although he and his wife had intentions of moving to Denver to start a family, a series of events this past December sped up the process.
“I had planned to move to Colorado with my wife at some point in time, but we wanted to wait until she graduated college,” explained Hamman in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “About a week and a half to two weeks before my fight against Constantinos Philippou [at UFC 140], I found out she was pregnant. We had all the necessary protection, but it just happened. God had a different idea. Needless to say, it fast forwarded things a little bit.”
Although Hamman isn’t the type for excuses, it’s understandable that the situation may have distracted him so close to a fight. The news only added to a very hectic week for the fighter.
“My wife actually graduated the exact same day I fought Philippou,” Hamman recalled. “I’d love to get that fight back.”
The reason he’d like to have it back? Hamman suffered a first-round knockout which continued a streak of alternating wins and losses since joining the UFC in late 2009. The loss followed an impressive 185-pound debut just a few months earlier.
“This whole win-loss, win-loss thing is frustrating,” said Hamman of his up-and-down UFC career. “I don’t want to have those losses; it’s just the way it is. I still feel like middleweight is my weight class.”
Despite Hamman’s struggle to put together a winning streak thus far with the promotion, you won’t find anyone describing his fights as boring. Of his 17 career bouts, 15 have ended in stoppage and the two that went the distance earned “Fight of the Night” honors.
“To be honest, I don’t necessarily try to put on entertaining fights,” admitted the California native. “I know what I like—as a fighter and a fan—and that’s guys that stop fights. That’s always been my mindset. I like to come out of a fight knowing that I gave it everything and did the best I could, win or lose. It’s great that fans like it.”
Sadly, Hamman’s loss in the cage would soon be the furthest thing from his mind. Just as his wife’s pregnancy had come as a surprise, it ended just as unexpectedly. Although the couple lost the baby, they continue to move forward in a positive light. As with any journey, there will be hardships at many turns, but it’s in perseverance that Hamman and his wife demonstrate their strength of will, as well as their faith.
Now, Hamman will have the opportunity to impress the fans in his new backyard as he takes on Dutch judoka Michael Kuiper at UFC 150 on Aug. 11.
“I always thought it would happen in Los Angeles, at Staples Center,” stated Hamman. “The Pepsi Center is only three miles from my house. I can literally jog straight to the arena. It’s a blessing to be able to fight so close to the community. Plus, there’s the altitude. Training out here is such an advantage. It’s going to be awesome.”
Since moving to the Mile High City, Hamman—a former protégé of Antoni Hardonk—has been teaching kickboxing at High Altitude Martial Arts, the gym of Strikeforce welterweight champion Nate Marquardt.
“Nate has helped me tremendously,” said Hamman of the transition to his new gym. “I learned so much from Antoni Hardonk and Vladimir Matyushenko [in the past] and now that I’ve been out here in Denver, I’ve had a chance to work with some great coaches and guys. I feel like my skills have improved so much just being here in Colorado the last six or seven months.”
Hamman will look to put those skills to the test against Kuiper when the cage door shuts on Saturday night. The pair possesses 22 combined finishes in their 29 fights. Hence, Hamman is expecting a war against his younger foe.
“Young guys love to come forward and be aggressive,” declared the 30-year-old. “He’s eight years younger than I am. He’s got a ton of finishes on his record, just like me. It’s going to be an exciting fight for the fans. There’s going to be a lot of action.”
Although Kuiper has primarily fought in Europe thus far in his career, Hamman isn’t underestimating the Dutchman. After all, Kuiper took veteran Rafael Natal to decision in his UFC debut this spring.
“I have to take him seriously because Natal is not an easy guy to fight,” Hamman said of Kuiper’s UFC 143 performance. “Regardless of whom he’s fought in the past, that fight alone shows me he’s got some skills. He may have lost a decision, but he almost knocked him out in the third round.”
“But I saw some holes in his stand-up game. I also saw some holes in his takedown defense. I plan on capitalizing on those things. I’ll be prepared for whatever he’s got.”
With five Octagon bouts on his resume, but a record of 2-3 with the promotion, Hamman may be competing for his job against Kuiper. Yet, the fighter maintains a positive outlook on his career and life.
“My mentality is that you never know when your next fight is going to be,” said Hamman. “I’ve always prided myself on going out as hard as I can each fight. In the scheme of things, we’re always on thin ice.”
“This whole MMA journey has taught me so much about myself. Fighting is cool, but it’s built up a lot inside me. I just look forward to putting on a good show.”
Top Photo: Jared Hamman (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)