By Josh Gross
ESPN.com †August 9, 2011
Matt Hamill, the only deaf fighter to compete in the
Ultimate Fighting Championship, announced his retirement from mixed martial
arts on Monday.
The end of his six year career comes after Hamill, who turns 35 in October, was stopped by Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 133.
"I have not been kind to my body and it has nothing
left after 28 years of nonstop competition," Hamill said in a statement
published on his Web site. "Itís time to finally give it a rest."
After nine knee surgeries, a chronically bad left shoulder, which was decimated in a fight against Jon Jones in 2009, and other injuries, the light heavyweight's will to compete, ably captured in "Hamill," a biopic feature film about his life that's set for a November theatrical release, simply dried up.
"I canít continue to fight without having the hunger and desire to do so," Hamill said. "I canít let my performances reflect on my coaches who are the best in the world and the reason Iíve made it this far."
Hamill admitted to being ready to retire following a listless decision loss to Quinton Jackson in May, "but my friends, family coaches and most importantly my daughter encouraged me to give it one last chance."
"I think she motivated him enough to go through with it," Holmes said of Hamill's daughter. "We thought, well maybe this is the way to do it. Take a fight on short notice, no game plan, go in there on instinct and maybe the killer in him will come out. It's not coming out because he's beaten down physically."
Sitting in his the locker room after succumbing to Gustafsson, Hamill, (10-4, 9-4 in UFC competition) looked at Holmes and conceded it was time to walk away.
"That's it," Hamill said. "That's all I got."
He leaves behind an amazing tale of perseverance. Born deaf in Loveland, Ohio, Hamill eventually found wrestling and earned a spot at Purdue University. It turned out not to be the right fit, and Hamill transferred to Rochester Institute of Technology, which features the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. At RIT, Hamill continued to wrestle and earned his nickname, "The Hammer," while capturing three Division-III NCAA championships.
Hamill entered MMA in 2005, and rose to prominence during Season 3 of "The Ultimate Fighter." He earned victories over Mark Munoz, Keith Jardine and Tito Ortiz. Hamill also owns a costly disqualification victory against Jones, the current UFC light heavyweight champion. Jones slammed Hamill to the canvas causing a 12-millimeter tear in his AC joint, shoulder dislocation, and pulled trapezius and deltoid muscles.
"He's a guy who they said shouldn't have fought," Holmes said. "You don't see boxers or deaf mixed martial artists."
Among other ventures, Hamill and Holmes are partners in a fight gym in Utica, N.Y., where they will continue to work with mixed martial artists seeking a shot at the UFC.
"The UFC has been extremely good to me and given me an opportunity to make a great living," Hamill said. "That exposure has allowed me options outside the Octagon as well. I just don't have it in me to fight anymore and my last two performances have shown that."