Former UFC fighter Jared Hamman sat out for a year following a gruesome leg injury when his hamstring popped in a fight and the muscle literally rolled up his leg like a rubber band when it breaks. When he returned, Hamman was excited to get back in action and put the last 12 months behind him, but instead of going out on his shield, his comeback lasted only 57 seconds as he was tapped out by Magnus Cedenblad at UFC 164 last August.
Following the fight, Hamman was released from the UFC due to a three-fight losing streak and he wasn’t surprised in the least that it happened.
“It just sucked to have that year-long wait time to get a chance and then you go in and lose that way; it just sucks,” Hamman said recently. “Especially after waiting that long and I knew going into that fight if I lost that the UFC was going to cut me so I understood that.”
While many fighters scratch, claw and beg to get into the UFC, Hamman spent seven fights there and after he was let go it was almost a good thing, as strange as that might sound to some. The Colorado-based fighter was just burned out with all the pressure that comes along with being in the UFC and fighting became a job again.
Hamman started fighting because he loved to fight and it wasn’t about paychecks or obligations. When the UFC let him go, Hamman felt like a weight was off his shoulders and it allowed him to just get back in the mindset of stepping into the cage because he was there doing what he loved to do.
“For a guy like my mentality, it’s almost like a relief,” Hamman said about his UFC release. “Because I love to fight, I love to scrap and I love to just compete and I like to compete that are supposed to just kill me. With the UFC, there’s so much going on with media and the show and it kind of gets away from the true sport and the reason I was doing it. This gives me a chance to just fight again.”
Now Hamman isn’t opposed to going back to the UFC one day if the opportunity were to present itself just like he was excited to get a call to fight on the upcoming World Series of Fighting card in October where he takes on Australian Luke Harris.
Taking a step back from the UFC gave Hamman a bit of perspective and he was able to get re-engaged with his training and fight preparation. Now he’s a happier fighter and he expects that joy to show through when he steps into the cage again.
“I’ve just been enjoying training. In sports we call it a ‘want to’ versus a ‘have to’ mentality,” Hamman explained. “Oh, I have to go train, and when you’re in the UFC it becomes not fun anymore in a sense because it becomes not fun anymore. It was like when did it go to a ‘want to’ to a ‘have to’? My good buddy (Donald) ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone has that best mentality, and he goes wakeboarding the week of the fight and he enjoys what he’s doing. This has brought me back to that mindset.”
Hamman is also going back to light heavyweight where he enjoyed himself the most during the rest of his fighting career. He’d rather be the smaller man in a fight than suck out every last pound just to cut down to 185 pounds.
“I’m going back to 205. No more skinny man at 185,” Hamman said. “I love it that’s what I’m going to do now. I had the most fun at 205 when I first started and that’s what I’m going back to. I’m putting a smile on my face and I’m just going for it.”
The love of the game is really what Hamman wants to focus on right now. He’s not thinking about titles or contender spots or rankings.
It’s just about training, fighting and celebrating when it’s all said and done. Hamman believes that kind of excitement will show through in his performances as well.
“I got into fighting not necessarily to be the best, I just love fighting,” Hamman said. “I wanted to basically step in front of a freight train and see if I could survive. That’s why I started doing this. When you’re in the UFC you start worrying about your nutrition, your diet, doing this and doing that right and that’s part of it, but if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.
“That’s where I’m at now. I just want to have fun.”