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USCS Movie Review: 'The Hammer' is Heartfelt But a Tad too Predictable for Hardcore MMA Fans

Eric Kowal
27 June 2012
The Hammer - US Combat Sports

It took a while for the film to rise to the top of my NetFlix queue but this week I was finally about to watch the inspiring true story of Matt "The Hammer" Hamill.

"The Hammer" reenacts the childhood life of the deaf former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight, all the way up to his college years where he earned three NCAA Wrestling Division III National Championships.

While the film is entirely predictable, the story is heartfelt and makes you root for the underdog.

Bullied and picked on at an early age, Hamill learned to read lips in order to understand what those around him were talking about. He had a hard time understanding sign language because his grandfather taught him at an early age that he was not different and that he did not need special treatment.

Hamill was placed in a wrestling program early on allowing him to overcome adversity and became a standout in the sport eventually getting a full ride scholarship to Purdue University. "The Hammer" would eventually fall in the sense that his grades were failing to meet the minimum requirements he needed to maintain to keep the scholarship applicable.

Hamill then returned home and later transferred to the Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, N.Y. where he earned his championships. It was there that he met his wife and was surrounded by many other deaf students who were able to help Hamill right his ship.

Hamill is the first deaf wrestler to win a national collegiate wrestling championship. He eventually would star in season three of the reality series, The Ultimate Fighter where he earned a close bond with coach and future UFC Hall of Famer, Tito Ortiz.

Despite a rather successful career in the UFC Hamill called it quits in August 2011 just two days after being defeated by Alexander Gustafsson. Hamill's other losses were also against standout fighters in the organization, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Rich Franklin (who coincidentally appears in the film as one of Hamill's college wrestling coaches), and Michael Bisping.

Hamill's fight with Bisping earned him a lot of recognition after many feel he was at the wrong end of a judge's split decision. Thousands of fans complained and sought out getting the decision reversed but it was never overturned.

Hamill would eventually go on to fight his former TUF mentor in Ortiz and earn a unanimous decision victory in a fight that pitted student versus teacher.

"The Hammer" was nominated for and won the "Audience Award" in 2010 at the AFI Fest. In 2011, the film was nominated for seven awards, winning six, including "Best American Independent Feature Film" at the Cleveland International Film Fest.

Overall, USCS gives the movie three of five stars. For the average mixed martial arts fan following the storied career of Hamill the film is entirely too predictable because you already know the result. It also leaves you wishing this young talented fighter would not have hung up his gloves at such an early age.

While it was the result of a disqualification Hamill is the only fighter to hold a win over current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Hamill did not have the most entertaining fight style and but he is a likeable guy; the kind of guy you want to root for.

If there is one more fight that is still left in the tank, the Hammer should drop down to 185 pounds and rematch Bisping to settle the score.

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Last Modified:
27 June 2012

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