When Matt Hamill walked away from mixed martial arts on August 8, 2011, it was one of the more surprising retirements we’ve seen. Sure, “The Hammer” was coming off back-to-back losses and was nearing the age of 35, but one loss came via decision to former world champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and the other was in a short notice fight against rising star Alex Gustafsson. No shame in either, and a lot of fighters stayed around a lot longer with worse resumes.
But Hamill had his mind made up.
“I was battling some nagging injuries for a while, and with my hectic schedule I never gave my body time to rest,” he said. “My body couldn’t keep up and I was mentally drained.”
So he posted a statement on his website and left. He was now an ex-fighter. And for a while, that was just fine with him.
“Well, after a nice break and some resting on my hammock (Laughs), I kept busy with my business ventures outside the Octagon and recently married my long-time girlfriend on June 30th.”
Soon, Hamill was feeling better, the injuries were healing, and his mind was clear. The draining schedule of train-fight-train-fight was over. And he missed it.
“After a little rest I went back to MVMMA (Mohawk Valley MMA in upstate New York) and started training with some of the guys there,” he said. “I felt healthy and reenergized and decided if I ever wanted to come back the time would be now.”
The retirement was over. It was time to fight, welcome news to his fans and even his family. In fact, it was the memory of his grandfather that spurred him on to get in the gym, team back up with longtime coach and friend Duff Holmes, and pick up where he left off.
“My family has been very supportive,” said Hamill. “Everyone in my family is very athletic so they understand. And lots of people told me to go back, but the main reason I’m back is because I feel I owe it to my grandfather. He taught me to never stop until I’ve reached my goals and it’s time for me to finish my homework for him.”
Needless to say, despite having been out of action since last August, the 35-year-old Hamill quickly got acclimated to active duty in the gym.
“It wasn’t very tough,” he said. “I was in the gym training light and doing drills and my body just responded.”
By August, he had a fight, facing newcomer Roger Hollett at UFC 152 in Toronto. Then Hollett had contractual issues with a prior promotion and was pulled from the bout. Veteran Vladimir Matyushenko was inserted in place of the Canadian, but then he was injured. By now, Hollett had cleared up his contract issues and was back in the fight. Not the ideal way to prepare for your return, but Hamill, a pro since 2005, wasn’t fazed in the slightest.
“Not at all,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who my opponent is. I’m just itching to get back in the cage and fight.”
And his scouting report on “The Hulk”?
“He seems to have solid striking and packs some power, but I have a good chin and feel like I can handle anything he throws at me,” said Hamill, 11-4, who owns wins over Tito Ortiz, Mark Munoz, Tim Boetsch. He is also the only man to beat current 205-pound champion Jon Jones, albeit via disqualification.
So when asked what fans should expect from him in his second go-round in the Octagon, he says “They should expect to see Hammer 2.0 - A new, improved version of myself.” As for his goals, they haven’t changed from the first time.
“My goals are the same as they have always been,” said Hamill, “Be the best at whatever I decide to do. That means winning fights and climbing back up the ladder to a title shot.”
Matt Hamill to Unveil Hammer 2.0
"My goals are the same as they have always been, be the best at whatever I decide to do." - Matt Hamill