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Jared Hamman Wonders, What Do You Do with a $65,000 Check?

People kept telling him he'd won Fight of the Night, but Jared Hamman didn't realize they were serious. It was nice to hear, and he appreciated the compliment. He knew his three-round slobberknocker with Rodney Wallace at UFC 111 had been an entertaining one, but Fight of the Night? On the same card that featured guys like Georges St. Pierre and Shane Carwin? That didn't sound right.

"I thought they were telling me like, basically, that was a really good fight," Hamman (12-2) told MMA Fighting. "I was like, thanks, I appreciate that. They had to be like, 'No, you really won the Fight of the Night bonus.' I had to call my manager and ask him if it was true."

And it was. After a fifteen-minute scrap with Wallace that sometimes resembled a blur of furious arms and legs roving around the Octagon like a contained tornado, Hamman won a unanimous decision victory and, as he would learn later in the night, a $65,000 bonus for Fight of the Night.

For a guy who was fighting on the prelims in his second UFC appearance, it was a considerable boost to his bottom line. The 6'3", 205-pound Hamman had taken up MMA back in 2006, but then it was mostly a hobby. His college football days were over and he'd transitioned into a job as coach at the University of Redlands, where he'd played for two years as a defensive end.

He enjoyed the job, but spending hours each day watching game film didn't exactly satiate his own physical drive to compete. A friend invited him down to a kickboxing class, and it sounded like just the thing he needed. A little over four years later he was in the UFC, trading blows with Wallace and earning himself a hefty chunk of change for his effort. Only now he faced a new problem.

"I didn't know what to do with the check. What do you do with a $65,000 check? Do you just walk into the bank with that? I kept asking people, what do I do with this? It's serious amount of money to have in your hand at one time."

After being assured by several people that yes, you can take even a sizable check like that to the bank without setting off alarms, Hamman put some of it in savings and socked away a little to pay his taxes. Much of it he put back into his training, but some of it demanded to spent elsewhere, and soon.

"Right after that fight my car basically exploded. I had been driving the same car for a long time, and then the engine exploded, and so many other things went wrong with it in the two days after the fight, that I finally had to get a new car."

The 28-year-old Hamman is a full-time fighter these days, though that was never his plan when he started out. For a while he had been content to pursue it more as a hobby. He racked up a 9-0 record and landed a spot on the ShoXC series, but didn't consider fighting as a career.

That all changed on April 5, 2008, when he lost his first fight thanks to a first-round flying knee from Poai Suganuma that knocked him unconscious and, somewhat surprisingly, changed his entire approach to his fighting career.

"Up to that point, it was just fun. I was winning every fight, working hard, having a great time," Hamman said. "Then I got that flying knee to the head and I lost that fight, and I remember sitting there afterwards going, I am so pissed right now. At that point, it was like, that's it. No more messing around. No more going halfway, it's time to get serious about this."

Getting serious meant training alongside MMA vets like Vladimir Matyushenko and Antoni Hardonk, and it also meant quitting his job as a football coach to focus full-time on his training. It paid off for Hamman, who rebounded from a knockout loss in his first UFC fight against Alexander Gustafsson to earn some TV time with his Fight of the Night performance against Wallace.

"I was trying with everything I had to end that fight," Hamman said. "I was hitting him and he was hitting me. I kept thinking that at some point in time, just like everybody else, this guy's going to crumble, his cardio will break down, and I'll overcome him. But he stayed strong. He cracked me and I cracked him, and I thought, hey, this is the UFC, man. This is what you get. I had a great time."

He faces his next challenge at UFC Fight Night 22 in Austin, Texas this Wednesday, as he takes on AKA product former "Ultimate Fighter" contestant Kyle Kingsbury (8-2,1 NC).

"He's big and strong, much bigger than I am, probably," Hamman said of Kingsbury. "But I'm used to fighting big dudes. I used to fight heavyweights back when I started. I don't really get too scared when I look across and see a big buff dude."

What Hamman's more concerned with, he said, is fighting style. He likes the match-up with Kingsbury for the same reason he liked facing Wallace and Gustafsson.

"They're guys who will come right at you and fight," said Hamman.

We've already seen how Hamman responds to that approach. If Kingsbury brings the same mentality, we could be looking at bonus-worthy brawl on Wednesday night. At least this time he'll know what to do with the check.