Whether one is an MMA fan or not, it's very hard to not be touched or inspired by Matt Hamill's story. The man was born deaf, and despite such a setback (or advantage, depending on how one may choose to look at it), the guy overcame his deafness by not only becoming an accomplished wrestler, but also a successful mixed martial artist with the UFC. Upon further notice, Hamill is a guy who has constantly looked adversity in the eye, before overcoming it and kicking it's ass.
At the Rochester Institute of Technology, Hamill won three national titles in three different weight classes, from 1997 to 1999. His career record was 89-3, and he went undefeated in his senior year, according to his RIT Hall of Fame webpage. His dominance was such, that not only was he awarded the1998 National Deaf Athlete of the Year award, but he became a member of RIT's Hall of Fame in 1999.
Following that, in the 2001 Deaflympics (self-explanatory), Hamill earned a gold medal in freestyle wrestling, as well as a silver in Greco-Roman wrestling.
His UFC career began after he became a cast member of Season Three of The Ultimate Fighter. Setbacks continued to plague him as Injuries prevented him from partaking in the season's semifinal round. But in his UFC debut at the Ultimate Fighter Season Three Finale, Hamill defeated another contestant, Jesse Forbes, via tko in the opening round.
In his next fight, Hamill won a unanimous decision against Seth Petruzelli at UFC FIght Night 6.5, or Ortiz vs. Shamrock 3: The Final Chapter, in a fight of the night performance. Following a first round tko victory over Rex Holman at UFC 68, adversity struck Hamill yet again.
That's because, despite the masses scoring the fight in his favor, Hamill lost a truly questionable decision against Michael Bisping, in the co-main event of UFC 75. While some argued that Bisping was gifted a hometown decision, it turns out that the two judges who scored it for Bisping, the dreaded Cecil Peoples and Jeff Mullen, were both American.
So, how did Hamill rebound from that atrocity? Well, he defeated Tim Boetch via tko, less than six months later, boosting his UFC record to 4-1. After losing his next fight to Rich Franklin via liver kick tko at UFC 88, Hamill reeled off a five fight winning streak, including handing current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones his lone loss!
Alright, so maybe that "win" over Jones was due to disqualification. Aside from that, his four other wins during that streak included a tko of Reese Andy at UFC 92 , a win over UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz at UFC 121, his second Fight of the Night bonus in a victory over Keith Jardine at the Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale and, most impressive of all, an emphatic headkick knockout of then unbeaten Mark Munoz at UFC 96, in March of 2009.
During that winning streak which amassed over two years, in November of 2010, a film based on Hamill's life from his younger years through his college days, premiered at the American Film Institute. The film won a Breakthrough Film award, and from then until May 2011, won awards at every film festival where it was screened.
Unfortunately, fate has not been so kind to Matt Hamill since. Not that it ever really was, but things haven't gone too well for him since his victory over Ortiz. He lost to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the lackluster main event of UFC 130, and at UFC 133, Alexander Gustaffson, well, mauled him.
It was then that Hamill put forth what seemed like the perfect retirement speech. Unfortunately, when one truly loves and enjoys something, he or she finds it almost impossible to let go, no matter whether they formally decide to let go or not.
This was clear when, a year later, Matt Hamill decided to make a comeback. Although he won his return fight against Roger Hollett at UFC 152, the fight was anything but entertaining. Surely, now that he won a fight, Hamill could retire with a victory, and that's what he should've done, right?
Unfortunately, Matt Hamill decided not to retire. At UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Shields, Hamill was set to fight against Thiago Silva, a man who, when motivated, is the equivalent of an MMA executioner. The main is violent, and will wreck his opponent into utter oblivion. Basically, it was every Matt Hamill fan's worst nightmare.
While Hamill did not get finished, he was mauled and wobbly after the fight. Basically, he was like a zombie, looking as if he was mentally finished, and that's likely due to the fact that Thiago Silva was not in fighting shape.
The loss was his third in four fights and, with a 10-5 record in the UFC, and 11-5 career record, Matt Hamill was released from the promotion soon thereafter. That, ladies and gentlemen, was surely the end of Matt Hamill's MMA career. It ended in a somber note, and that was that, or was it?
News surfaced as early as last Thursday that the World Series of Fighting, an organization that boasts names of several rising prospects and UFC veterans, had signed Matt Hamill. Then, yesterday afternoon, it was confirmed that World Series of Fighting was targeting Hamill vs another former UFC fighter, Ronny Markes, at WSOF 12 on August 2nd. But, is the signing a good thing for anybody?
On paper, it certainly does. Now, Hamill a chance to close out his career with a victory, which he should have done with his victory over Roger Hollett nearly two years ago. His opponent, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Ronny Markes, spent his last four fights at middleweight, so perhaps one could give the size advantage to Hamill. The deal also looks good for WSOF, who now has a chance to pit two recent UFC fighters up against each other. Add in how the promotion can utilize Hamill's inspirational tale to garner attention towards the fight, event and promotion, and everything's perfect, right?
Truth be told, there are many ways this move can backfire for many parties. For one, neither Markes nor Hamill have been viewed as particularly entertaining fighters, especially of late. It's been over three years since Markes last finished an opponent, while Hamill's headkick against Mark Munoz occurred over five years ago, and his Fight of the Night performance against Keith Jardine occurred just a year later. In other words, regardless of who wins, the fight could very well wind up being lackluster and boring.
As a result, regardless of who wins, WSOF may not be happy with signing either guy. After all, with guys like Jon fitch and Yushin Okami already on the roster, president Ray Sefo may not feel the need to keep another grinding UFC veteran like Hamill around.
Then, there's the perspective of MMA fans. Sure, there are a lot of sensible fans who enjoy MMA, but there are a lot of "JUST BLEED" fanatics out there that make Dana White look stable and unbiased. How would they react to a fight that could be as bad as this one might be? What about fair and balance fans? Would they be willing to give Matt Hamill the benefit of the doubt?
They guy hasn't looked good in a fight for over four years, and as inspirational as his story is, the sentimentality can only last so long. At the end of the day, all MMA fans ultimately want to see one thing: good, entertaining fights. That's the common thread that binds all fans together, and neither Hamill nor Markes have delivered such a thing in quite some time.
In an ideal world, the fight unexpectedly winds up being a barnburner that Hamill wins; a victory with which he then retires for good. Unfortunately, chances of that are slim, and as much as I hope to see Hamill go off into the sunset with a big, exciting victory to close things out, I just don't see it. At the end of the day, if anything, news of Hamill's signing will only bring out grunts and groans amongst MMA fans. Hopefully, the ending is a sweet one, as opposed to the bitterness that has plagued "The Hammer's" career of late.