American light heavyweight Jared Hamman (9-1) and Swede “Mauler” Alexander Gustafsson (7-0) will both debut in the UFC versus each other at UFC 105 at M.E.N. Arena in Manchester.
Hamman is an EliteXC veteran with stoppages over powerhouse “Diesel” Travis Wiuff (57-12), Strikeforce prospect Aaron Rosa (10-3), and ADCC submission grappler and M-1 Global fighter Rogent Lloret (6-1-1).
Before his debut in the Octagon, Hamman spoke to Fighters.com about training with “Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko (23-4), his only loss by 15-second knockout, and his preparations to fight Gustafsson.
Fighters.com: You train with Matyushenko at VMAT in El Segundo, who recently returned to the UFC. Did his return lead directly to your signing? Tell us how it came about that you signed with the UFC.
Jared Hamman: No, not exactly. Me and Vlad came under a new manager a few months ago. Vlad signed with the UFC then and I was still working with strikeforce. I was supposed to fight for them September 25. During a meeting with my manager it was discovered that I was a free agent. UFC made me an offer and I went with what I felt was the best decision.
Fighters.com: Why haven’t you competed in over a year?
Jared Hamman: When EliteXC went down, I was told that my contract was being held and being transferred over to strikeforce. I had plenty of opportunities to fight, but I was told that I could’nt because I was still under contract. So you can imagine how mad I was when I found out that I was a free agent. In the end, though, it has given me a whole year to work on my game and increase my skill.
Fighters.com: You competed at ShoXC, which was televised and had the feel of a big production like the UFC. Your opponent, Gustaffson, has only competed in northern Europe, where the MMA scene isn’t as developed. Having come from smaller shows into ShoXc, what advantage do you have if any with both you and Gustaffson debuting in the Octagon?
Jared Hamman: You know, there may be some kind of advantage, but I dont think it’s a big one. It helps to already have had the experience of having the camera in your face and doing pre-fight interview stuff for TV and what not, but I think any true fighter will tell you, when it comes down to it, a fight is a fight. Whether its in the backyard or national TV you dont want to get your butt whooped and you want to fight hard and win.
Fighters.com: Besides the physical training, how is Vlad helping you mentally prepare for your UFC debut?
Jared Hamman: This is funny. Vlad and me are somewhat the same, yet totally different. I’m all fire and he’s ice. You see it in his face, stone cold, no emotion, just gets the job done and that’s it. Me, I’m a little bit more firey. I absolutely love to battle and go for it full bore. Vlad shoots it to me straight, lets me know when my technique sucked and when I’ve done well. I respect that. It’s easy to get around people in this sport that will tell you what you want to hear, but it’s important to have that person who tells you how it really is. The real thing, none of that fake stuff. The fake stuff doesn’t make you a champion.
Fighters.com: You were KO’d in 15 seconds by Poai Suganuma (8-3) at EliteXC in April 2008, a loss you avenged in a first-round TKO four months later. I don’t believe in flukes. Do you believe in flukes and is that first loss to Suganuma an example? Or, was there a legititmate mistake Suganuma took advantage of and you worked to fix?
Jared Hamman: Something I have always said to my players (I coached college football) was, “The first person to hesitate is the first to get rocked!” That fight I hesitated for a slight second, let my mind think instead of act, and it cost me. Now, I will say that I was still very able to fight and could’ve kept going, but the outcome is the way it is. I should have never put myself in that position in the first place. Poai is a good fighter and he did his thing perfectly that night. After that situation I will never hesitate again.
Fighters.com: I notice several of your stoppage wins are in the second round. Are you cautious at the beginning of a fight? Would you call yourself a “slow starter”?
Jared Hamman: I definitely would not say I’m a slow starter. You only get 15 minutes to fight and I want to be fighting all 15 of them. For me, it’s kind of like when I played football in college, you start off full speed, but it takes a few series and a couple good hits to really be comfortable in your pads. Same with fighting, you get some good hits and a little sweat and your good to go.
Fighters.com: I can’t imagine you have a lot of video on Gustaffson. When you’re feeling out an opponent at the beginning of a fight, what are you looking for?
Jared Hamman: To be honest, from the bell I’m trying to break the guy down, mentally and physically. I never want a fight to go to a decision, it’s a pickin fight. As with any fighter, I’m looking for openings and ways to end the fight right from the get-go.