Sunday, January 13, 2008

An Inside Look at Matt Hughes' "Made in America": Part II

In Part I of my look into Made in America, I talked about Chapters 1-4, which covered Hughes’ childhood and adolescence and culminated with Hughes wetting his beak in the world of MMA. For Part II, I’ll go through those chapters (5-10) in which Matt decides to train full-time with Miletich, and eventually becomes UFC welterweight champion.

After grounding-and-pounding his way through regional promotions, Matt Hughes caught the eye of Pat Miletich and Monte Cox, who subsequently became his manager. The rest, as they say, is history.

Hughes was invited to take on Akihiro Gono in Japan, and looking back on his visit to the Far East, Hughes writes: “I would have killed for just one country breakfast.” Gold.

While competing in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club, Hughes, who was mistakenly put in the 205-lb. weight class, was matched up against fellow Miletich product Jeremy Horn. There was a $1,500 prize for quickest submission and another $1,500 for best throw, so Hughes and Horn devised a plan that would leave them $3,000 richer: Hughes would land a big throw early on and would then quickly choke Horn out. Unfortunately, one of Renzo Gracie’s guys walked right into a choke from Renzo himself, so Horn and Hughes only ended up splitting the $1,500 for best throw. I hope the sheik isn’t reading this.

In the finals, Hughes lost in overtime on points to a certain yellow-headed light heavyweight known as Tito Ortiz. Hughes definitely dislikes Tito. In describing Frank Trigg later on in the book, Hughes writes: “He’s just an idiot. On a scale of one to ten, he’s a Tito.”

Tim Sylvia’s name pops up for the first time, as Hughes remembers being at Ultimate Fitness in Bettendorf, IA, and seeing “the biggest doofus in my life try to enter the fight room…I had seen puppies that were less needy and excitable.” And so it begins…

Hughes later insinuated that Dennis Hallman, who twice submitted Hughes, took steroids. I’d been waiting for some Matt Hughes mudslinging, and he pulled a Jose Canseco with this one.
If there’s one thing that everyone who reads this book can agree it on, it’s that Matt Hughes loved the ladies. The following excerpt is Matt’s recollection of first seeing Brandy, a Bettendorf hard-body he later knocked up:

“I gave her the elevator eyes – checking her out from top to bottom and then back up from bottom to top. From the stomach up, she was really put together well. The boobs were fake, but not in an obvious way, and she had long, straight brown hair down to the middle of her back. She had a great complexion - not tan, but not as pasty white as me. She did have a little bit of hips on her, but here she was doing something about it.”
Matt also became amorous with Audra, Matt’s future wife and the younger sister of a close childhood friend. Matt affectionately recalled Audra as a child plopping down next to him on her family’s couch, and the next thing you know, it’s 2001 and Matt and Audra are in an on-and-off-again engagement. Luckily, they reunited once and for all when Audra asked Matt to take care of her after she got breast implants. And I quote:

“As we moved together on my bed, her stitches ripped a little bit and her blood drizzled across my chest. I lived in a world where people were bound by blood, rolling in practice rooms and cages. It was the first time I’d had that kind of bond on bedsheets. We were together again and it felt wonderful.”
According to Matt, this was the first time he’d seen her naked. I shit you not.

Remember on TUF 5 when Hughes taunted Georges St-Pierre when all the guys went out to the restaurant? He pulled the same stunt with Hayato “Mach” Sakurai before UFC 36. “I was on him the entire week like white rice on sushi,” Hughes recalls. “The Michael Jordan of Japan was still just the Mach Sakurai of America…I really feel like he shouldn’t have been against me. It really wasn’t a challenge.” Wow.

Best of all was Hughes’ recollection of Pat Miletich recounting for him the now infamous Tito
Ortiz-Lee Murray street fight
in London after UFC 38. Long story short, a brawl breaks out, Lee and Tito square off, Lee connects with a five-punch combo that knocks Tito OUT and then stomps down Tito’s head a few times with his boots. Anyone who's read Sherdog forum posts has surely heard this one before.

Overall, Hughes comes across as a smug bully in this part of the book, which just about any half-interested MMA biographer could have written. Hughes offers no special insight and reiterated a lot of what long-time MMA fans already know. After 185 (or so) pages, there’s been virtually no talk of God or religious devotion, but I'm sure it's coming.

Stay tuned for Part III…

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