Quitting has never been an option for UFC middleweight Jared Hamman—even when he's literally competing as a one-legged man in a fight.
Hamman's last trip to the cage at UFC 150 in August 2012 saw the fighter suffer a gruesome injury during his bout against Michael Kuiper in which his hamstring detached from the muscle and literally rolled up his leg.
Between rounds one and two, Hamman was noticeably favoring the leg, but had no intention of giving up and conceding the fight to Kuiper. It had nothing to do with any kind of fake tough guy mentality or false bravado because Hamman is a fighter.
It all came down to being able to live with himself days after the fight ended because losing is something that happens to every athlete in any sport or competition. The difference here was Hamman didn't want to wake up the next day and realize he quit.
"It’s not like 'oh crap my leg's hurt I've got to stop', it's like 'my leg's hurt, but I still have my left leg, I still have my right hand, I still have my left hand, let's rock and let's do this'. If you can still play, you're going to still go," Hamman said. "I absolutely love fighting, so I didn't even think twice about stopping.
"Losing sucks, but quitting in my opinion is even worse. That's why I bust my butt so hard in conditioning. Losing happens. There's a winner and there's a loser, but quitting and not being able to put your hands up, that sucks."
There was still disappointment in Hamman's eyes when it was all over because he still lost a crucial fight in the UFC, marking his second defeat in a row. It only got worse when he went to the doctor and started his rehabilitation on the mangled leg and found out he'd be on the shelf for quite some time.
"That was tough especially when you're thinking about your career," Hamman said. "I'm 31-years old, you start thinking about that stuff. When I first went to rehab and they're like lift up your left leg, and I lift it up no problem. Then they say lift up your right leg, and I could not lift my right leg up at all. At that point I was like wow this is going to be a long time, but it's just what you learn in life. After about six months, little by little, step by step, I was gaining strength."
Hamman eventually got his hamstring back to 100 percent and he was able to get back into training again, and that's when the positivity started to flow again. However, Hamman was still upset he lost his last two fights, and there's no financial gain for a fighter sitting on the sidelines for over a year.
Where Hamman gained his perspective was being forced to sit and wait for his leg to heal before he could do much of anything in the gym. Those long hours spent training two or three times a day would routinely wear him down, but after being unable to do it for several months while rehabbing his leg, he genuinely missed every moment of it.
"When you're out for that long, you really realize how much you enjoy something," Hamman said. "In a sense it was almost a good thing in an odd way. I love fighting and I've always known that, but this really showed me that. When I got that call (for my next fight), heck yeah, let's roll, can't wait.
"You hear a lot of fighters talk about burn out, and when you're first starting out it's like 'man I love this' and when you start fighting and going through the fight camps you start pissing and moaning. It's stops being fun. To be honest this whole time, it was like this is fun. When I got that call, it was time to go back to doing what I love."
Hamman isn't turning a blind eye to the fact that he enters UFC 164 this weekend off two losses, and he needs to beat Magnus Cedenblad to ensure that he will still have a home in the Octagon when the weekend is over.
He just knows that there's nothing promised in this sport, and Hamman plans on enjoying every minute of the ride until it's over.
"You can lose it any time," Hamman said. "You really realize this is a privilege, this is cool and this is what I want to do."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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