Monday, January 14, 2008

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

In the closing chapters, Hughes devotes a few lines (and nothing more) to his fights with Frank Trigg, BJ Penn, and Georges St-Pierre. If you’ve seen the fights, you can skip right over these pages. He also talks about doing The Ultimate Fighter, not wanting to fight his good buddy Rich Franklin, getting married, and beating up Royce Gracie. Again, if you’re up on your MMA, you’ve seen and heard it all before.

Hughes finds God and renews his faith as a Christian in the chapter appropriately named “The Sublime and the Ridiculous.” Hughes walks us through his listless spiritual quest and recreates for the reader the evolution of his faith. The conversations with Brian, a buddy from church, were not only self-serving, but also extremely predictable and at times laughable. It was as if he were writing a parable he’d later pass along.

Hughes talks about his admiration for Randy Couture, and how for a long time he wanted nothing to do with Randy after his divorce. Somehow, perhaps through the grace of God, Hughes mustered up the strength to not only say hello to Randy Couture, but to tell him that he’s ready to be Randy’s friend again. Hughes wrote: “I didn’t have to support divorce to support Randy Couture.” How very Christian of him.

As I sailed through the final pages of the book, I noticed that there’d been no mention of Hughes’ bad blood with Matt Serra. Hughes revisits the Serra-GSP fight, after which Hughes and Sean Sherk were captured on camera slapping each other on the back and laughing like schoolgirls. He describes that and nothing more. Serra’s well-articulated disdain for Hughes as a person has been almost contagious throughout the MMA world, and I expected Hughes to at least address his foul-mouthed, East-Coast antagonist, this time in print. Nope.

I’d also been hoping to read about Hughes’ departure from Miletich Fighting Systems. No such luck. In fairness, this book was probably finished by the time he left and took Robbie Lawler with him, so I’ll give him a pass. Then again, based on his cursory treatment of just about everything else in this book, I don’t see why he couldn’t have slipped in a little something.

Ultimately, Made in America falls short. The superficial recollections of boys being boys and the shallow account of Hughes’ championship journey left me unsatisfied. My biggest gripe is that there’s no real emotion in the book, especially when it comes to being a professional fighter. The stories involving Hughes and his wife, I thought, were told with such little regard that you wonder whether he had a smirk on his face when he wrote them.

I don’t know if I’ll ever really root for Matt Hughes in a fight. I don’t know that I want to. I don't think he's a bad guy; I think he's a brutal competitor who’s always looking to get dominant position on you. And it doesn’t really matter who you are.

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