Q&A: UFC fighter Matt Hamill

9 03 2009

Matt “The Hammer” Hamill, 32, a native of Loveland, Ohio, is billed just below the main event at UFC 96, the mixed-martial arts fight card in Nationwide Arena tonight. Hamill was a three-time Division III national champion when he wrestled for Rochester Institute of Technology. He won a silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling and a gold in freestyle at the 2001 Deaflympics. Hamill is a veteran of the reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter. He owns a 7-2 record in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Hamill, a low-budget movie about his life, is soon to be released.

UFC fighter Matt Hamill of Cincinnati will take a 7-2 record into a fight against Mark Munoz tonight in Nationwide Arena.

UFC fighter Matt Hamill of Cincinnati will take a 7-2 record into a fight against Mark Munoz tonight in Nationwide Arena.


Question: Have you been deaf your whole life?

Answer: Yes. I found out when I was just a little kid and my mother was trying to communicate with me. “Matt, Matt,” she would say, and there was no response. The took me to the doctor and they did tests. I can’t hear anything. Nothing. I am totally deaf. I have been since birth.

Q: Did you go to a school for the deaf when you were young?

A : No. I had an interpreter. Whatever the teacher said, the interpreter signed to me. If I went to a deaf school, it would not have been as much of a challenge. But I am more comfortable in the deaf community. I am not uncomfortable outside of it, but I am more comfortable in it. That is just my style.

Q: When did you start wrestling?

A: When I was 4 or 5 years old. My stepdad was the coach at Loveland (High School). Wrestling kept me busy. It kept me out of trouble. It was something that didn’t need much communication. It liked it because it was physical. It was rough. It was something I really enjoyed.

Q: You managed to take your wrestling as far as you could, didn’t you?

A: As a true freshman, I went to Purdue on a full scholarship. My goal was to be a national champion in Division I. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it there, so I transferred to RIT — in an area where there is a very large deaf community. It was a great experience there.

Q: Your stepfather got you into wrestling, which is one thing. Does your mother approve of ultimate fighting?

A: She looks at me and I’m happy. When I’m happy, she’s happy. She supports me in whatever I do.

Q: Was this what you wanted to do when you graduated college?

A: No. I hadn’t even thought about it. I had a degree in electrical engineering and I thought I’d get a good job somewhere in Utica (N.Y.), to be near my daughter. I met my ex-wife at RIT, and she lives in Utica. Somehow, I got on a different path.

Q: How excited are you to have a big fight in Ohio?

A: I was supposed to take another fight in Montreal. Montreal or Ohio? That was the question. I’m an Ohioan. I wanted to fight in Ohio where I’m close to my friends and my family and my fans. Two years ago at UFC 68 (in Nationwide Arena), I beat Rex Holman and I never felt a vibration like that in my career. It’s my home state, more deaf people are coming — and I can’t wait to feel the vibration. That’s how I get my heart in the fight. That’s why I came here. The vibration.