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Deaf MMA fighter Paulo Laia looks up to Matt Hamill and hopes to be a ‘great inspiration’ in PFL

Paulo Laia is a deaf mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who is hoping to inspire others in the upcoming PFL season. Laia, who hails from Brazil, has been deaf since birth, but that hasn't stopped him from pursuing his passion for combat sports.

One of Laia's biggest inspirations is Matt Hamill, a former UFC fighter who is also deaf. Hamill was one of the first deaf athletes to compete at the highest levels of MMA, and he has been a role model for many in the deaf community. For Laia, Hamill's success has been a source of motivation and inspiration.

“I see many deaf people contacting my coach and wanting to train MMA because of me,” Laia wrote to MMA Fighting. “I’m very happy about that, to be able to show the community that we all can do everything normally.”

After sweeping a one-night lightweight competition in November and earning a position on the PFL's Challenger Series, Laia is 14-5 as a professional fighter. The forthcoming PFL season, which will have athletes from around the globe, will include Laia as a participant.

Laia will have the opportunity to demonstrate that, despite his impairment, he can rival the best of the best. He wants to demonstrate that everything is achievable with effort and willpower and serve as a positive example for all the other deaf people. His mother, he claimed, has always encouraged his desire to compete in combat sports.

“I never suffered any kind of prejudice,” Laia wrote. “I started in a luta livre social project with coach Paulo Josino. When I decided I wanted to do MMA, he introduced me to master Renato Dominguez, and my experience with them has been great.

“Being deaf doesn’t make any difference to me these days,” he added. “My connection with my coach and training partners is great. My coach and I understand each other very well with hand gestures. When I want to know something, like how much time we have left or what should I do, he immediately understands me and instructs me on what to do. I have great peripheral vision inside the cage, and I get in there knowing exactly what I have to do.”

For Laia, the road to success has not been easy. He has had to overcome many challenges and obstacles along the way, but he has never given up. His passion for MMA has driven him to work harder than ever before, and he is hoping to achieve great things in the sport.

Sousa, Laia's rival on Friday evening, is 9-0 overall with a 100% completion percentage, but he stands in the way of Laia's chances of competing in the PFL's million-dollar season.

“I’m very happy with everything that’s going on,” Laia wrote. “I’m going taking step by step to the $1 million goal, but I’d rather think of the actual fight and let things happen. My opponent is a tough guy with a good game, but the plan is to get the victory. I’m ready for everything.”


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