SANTA MONICA, Claif. – A young boy under the roof of a single mother is roughed up on a regular basis by his older brother. It’s referred to as “toughness training” by the older sibling. Doing what older brothers do puts a sturdy backbone on the youngster.
For UFC 140 fighter Jared Hamman, it was the way of life. Roughhousing with his older brother, Loren, and friends was the thing to do as kid living out north of San Luis Obispo, Calif. Occasionally, the horseplay took place indoors – a frustrating experience for mom and grandma. The young Hammans continue to roughhouse to this day.
“The funny thing is my brother is in my corner now,” Jared Hamman tells MMAWeekly.com.
Hamman got a kick – among other things – out of fighting. It was something he found fun ever since he was kid and the liking for it continued until he was a college football player then a coach at the University of Redlands. While there, he got a glimpse of the UFC and thought, “hey, I think I can do that.”
Low and behold, a friend of Hamman’s approached the then football coach and told him about some kickboxing and grappling classes. Being the kind of guy he was, Hamman was all for it.
“Man, you just get addicted from there,” he says. “I loved to fight. You can ask any of my friends, we loved to fight.
“That was the start… and pretty much how I got into MMA.”
Time to test one’s self. Hamman gets into some smoker fights – both kickboxing and MMA – with guys that outweigh him by 50 pounds because his original opponent didn’t show up. Does he back down because he’s so much smaller? No. After all, according to Hamman, “I didn’t fly out here for nothing.”
This all takes place while the San Bernardino School District still recognizes Jared Hamman as a substitute school teacher. The tale mirrors that of another UFC fighter who once made his trek to the top of the middleweight division, Rich Franklin.
“I remember thinking, ‘that guy was a teacher and he just jumped into this thing and started fighting,’ ” he says. “That’s when I [realized] I’m doing the same kind of thing.” Hamman feels if Franklin can do it, he can, too.
Mixed martial arts is symbolic for the Santa Monica resident. He says he’s always wanted to step in front of a freight train and see if he lives; this is the purpose MMA has served up until this point in his career. He’s told his managers from day one that he just wants to have fights that make him pull that fire out. Essentially, bring Jared Hamman tough fights and allow him to battle. Now in the UFC, he gets nothing but tough fights and that, ironically, brings him comfort.
But in 2010, Hamman wasn’t sure fighting was his definite career path, even though he was already 10 fights in. Sure, he enjoyed getting in there and slugging it out, but he also wanted to coach football and teach. There came a point where he had to make a choice and the decision came in the form of a flying knee. On April 5, 2010, Hamman faced Hawaiian fighter Po’ai Suganama and tasted defeat for this time since becoming pro. The bout was scored a knockout.
The loss allowed Hamman to make the decision to move to Los Angeles and train full-time with fellow UFC fighter Vladimir Matyushenko. Refocused, he gets a rematch with Suganama under the EliteXC banner. The result this time around is a TKO win for Hamman.
The MMA ride has been awesome, Hamman says. He’s gotten to travel to different parts of the world and meet a lot of interesting people. He describes the experience as a country boy who used to horse around with his brother, now getting first-class treatment.
“This is rad!” he says when thinking about hotel accommodations when on the road. “It seems kind of odd, but for me, I always get this giddy, little excitement from it.”
He finds the experience so fascinating that he wants his family to come enjoy, too. That’s why older brother Loren stays in his corner. After all, he feels he owes it to him for making him the fighter he is today through all that “toughness training” as a kid.
Loren Hamman has been corning his younger brother forever. As a junior high school student, some kids at camp got into the younger Hamman’s face. The older Hamman came to his brother’s aid and stuck up for him, confronting the boys verbally. The younger Hamman thinks he’s in the clear, under the assumption his older brother is going to beat these guys up. But not so fast. Loren turns to his little brother and says, “Jared, kick his ass!”
“I’ll never forget that,” Hamman recalls. “I was like, ‘what?!'”
Fortunately, the frenzy was broken up and Hamman didn’t have to fight off a group of older kids. But the thing he takes away from that situation is the knowledge that his older brother always believed in him. Despite the fact the boys in his face were bigger and older, Loren knew his little brother can take them down because all that roughing up he did throughout the years.
Hamman will see how much all that “toughness training” paid off when he faces Constantinos Philippou at UFC 140 in Toronto on Saturday night. As always, Loren will be in his younger brother’s corner for the fight. It’s safe to say that after Bruce Buffer announces the fight and before the ref signals the start of the opening round, Loren will do just as he did that day in camp. Older brother will tell younger brother, “Jared, kick his ass!”