When I met Matt Hughes...
Here is a non hypothetical question, forum members. I know that quite a few of us have had the crazy awesome honor of meeting Matt on at least one occasion. This is the place to share and relive those bomb memories! Could even get a sticky if there is a ton of story sharing going on and a mod saw fit. Pictures are more than welcome! Also, feel free to share any time that you have got to hang out with the WW GOAT and not just the first experience, if you've got to meet him on multiple occasions.
I'll start this party!
I have only been able to meet Matt Hughes on 1 occasion and never had the privilege to get to watch him fight in person. But I do feel very special that I got to attend the H.I.T. Squad grand opening and that's the story Im going to share with you guys now....
Let me start by telling ya'll that I live in a small town in south central, Kentucky. I had been reading rather frequently and posting very occasionally on this message board for quite a while when the news broke out that Matt and some partners were going to open their own gym. I was about 20 years old at the time and would day dream while at work of being to Matt Hughes what Matt himself had been to Pat Miletich. Even though I had never wrestled in school or taken as much as a single Karate class, I would just imagine and day dream of training at the gym under Matt's tutelage day in and day out until the day came that he was in my corner when I won the UFC light weight title. LOL!
I had discussed with a friend of mine about how Matt was opening up his own gym and was going to have a grand opening ceremony. We just kind of tossed around the idea of taking the trip and actually going. One of us finally said "yeah we are gonna go!" The other dismissively agreed not believing that it would be a plan that was actually followed through on. A few weeks pass and then it's the day before the grand opening. I worked a full 8 hour shift and got off and went the restaurant near my work where my friend was working. As soon as I see her she asks "so are you ready to go tonight?" It took me a few minutes to realize what she was talking about because I had assumed that she didn't really have intentions on actually going. I don't let her know this and let out an enthusiastic "of course!" Then I ran home, took a shower and packed a bag to go meet my friend so that we could head out on our 6 hour journey to Granite City, Illinois.
The trip was rather uneventful, just casual chatter between us and listening to some good tunes on the radio. We arrived at our hotel, which I believe was right out side of Granite City, at around 6:30 am the day of the grand opening and go right to bed after setting an alarm clock. As soon as we wake up the next day we rush through taking a shower and getting ready for the grand opening, having no idea what to expect. On the drive there I start to think about how the grand opening may go down. I assumed Matt would probably either be behind a barricade or he may come out on a stage or be sitting at a table like celebrities do at a lot of meet and greet type events.
When we pulled into the parking lot, we just kind of marvel at how really cool the sign is and take pictures of each other in front of the building and with Matt's TUF Hummer and his motorcycle that was there. We start walking around out side and kind of stumble into this tent looking area set up with some people giving One More Round stickers away and selling a magazine with Matt on the cover. I buy a magazine and right after my purchase, my friend grabs my arm and says "Lee, Matt Hughes is right there behind you!"
I think she must be mistaken because surely Matt would be inside behind some barricade or table out of reach of the general public that was there, but nope! She was right! Matt was right there and I was very much so star struck. I didn't expect to see my favorite fighter just walking around mingling with everyone so I was really surprised.
After just a few moments of waiting around as Matt was talking with other people, I got my chance to talk to him. Now, I know some people may meet celebrities pretty regularly or have met other fighters before, but Matt was the first fighter or celebrity at all that I was able to meet. And he really set the standard very high for others that I got to meet in the future because he was so cool and down to earth to meet. I simply congratulated Matt on opening his gym and explained how he had been the entire reason I started watching fights and that he was my favorite fighter. He was very warm and receptive, took the time to sign my magazine, a copy of his autobiography that I had brought with me from home, and the TapouT shirt that I had on. We took pictures both as a group, Matt, my friend and I, and my friend and I both took individual pictures with Matt. We then thanked him for his time and went in to check out the gym. The H.I.T. Squad gym was really cool. In the gym we talked with Matt some more in the very few moments he wasn't swarmed. We also got to meet Mark Hughes, Robbie Lawler, Matt Pena, Marc Fiore, and Tommy Speer. The entire group could not have been friendlier and great to meet.
After meeting Boomer at the gym and exchanging phone numbers, my friend and I were invited to the after party bonfire at the Hughes farm in Hillsboro, which was a blast and I was honored and blessed to have been able to attend. I won't go in to too much details on that as this post is running kind of long and I'm sure someone else here can share the goings on around the bonfire.
All in all, it was without a doubt worth every bit of the 6 hour drive. Meeting Matt was even better than I had hoped it would be. I have since been to a UFC fight night and a Strikeforce weigh in event where I was fortunate enough to meet quite a few champions and former champions, but meeting my favorite fighter, Matt Hughes, certainly and easily ranks head and shoulders above the rest.
What happened at the bonfire...... stays at the bonfire. :ninja:
Boomer has got some great vids of this day!
:laugh: I first met Matt Hughes in Nathan Rosarios house in Illinois. It was reasonably early in the morning and I had gotten up and had gone to use the bathroom to get washed and to change. I discovered that in my haste I had not picked up my T-shirt from the living room. Sooo I thought I'd take a quick dash to retrieve it.
Unfortunately...whilst I had been in the bathroom, Matt Hughes had arrived with a copy on CD of one of the TUF Episodes from his second stint as Coach (So we are going all the way back to 2007 here) I bolted from the bathroom, semi-clad, the exact same moment he happened to be passing by
:ashamed: hoe embarrising :laugh:
The second time I saw him was at his farm, when he was climbing this metal structure, I cant remember what exactly he was doing, but I do remember watching him climb this thing. I remember that we had to fill this digger thing with grains aswell. He asked me if I could drive one of the huge tractors...but I declined since I dont have a driving liscence, and didnt really want to put his tractor in a ditch or something. I think Boomer drove it instead.
I also saw him a few days later at his House. There was a birthday celebration going on and so we went over for that. That is when I met his Wife. (I had already met his Brother on the farm before hand)
But perhaps the biggest encounter with Matt Hughes came towards the middle/end of the First States Tour. So...I had been wondering what to do because a lot of my money was tied into travellers cheques which needed to be cashed before I could use the money. We had been to the bank in the morning, and they had actually refused to accept the cheques. This is not something thats supposed to happen...however, because the town we were staying in, isnt exactly a tourist destination, you can imagine the banks suprise, and they were hesitant to cash the cheques without paying them into an account first. Obviously, I didnt have an account with the bank in the US :laugh: We had gone back and I had started to read outside on the picknick bench, whilst Nathan was doing something inside. As I was reading this huge spider fell out of an overhanging fruit tree and crashed onto the table before scuttling off. Gave me the fright of my life. I got up and went inside and asked Nathan if Illinois has any poisenous spiders and he said he didnt know. He hadnt long lived in the State because he was more used to New Mexico where apparently there ARE poisenous spiders and scorpions...so he said if it looked dangerous, to leave it alone.
So I went back outside but sat on the steps to read, and thats when Matt Hughes arrived. He asked me why I was sitting outside, alone, and I said I was giving Nathan a break from me...and he said "Does he need a break from you" :laugh:
Anyway We went in and Nathan and I explained the issue with the bank. Matt Hughes listened for a bit and then told me to get in the car. Nathan stayed at the house, so it was just me and Matt, and we went to the bank. He said he was going to try and sort it out. Sooo we talked to the bank, and they explained to him exactly what they explained to me, and of course I didnt have an account.
But Matt Hughes did. Sooo he offered to be Garentour. Now what this means is, that as an account holder, Matt Hughes is culpable if my travellors cheques turn out to be fraudulent...and to make sure, whe the travellors cheques were signed, they needed not just my signiture and the banks...but also the Garentour....it was SOOOO Strange...The bank would sign the cheques and hand them to Matt, who had to sign...and then I had to put my signiture next to his...and then the bank would redeem them.
Now, I have to say that its not like me and Matt had spoken everyday, or really knew each other. Whilst the chances of me being a fraud were low...technically speaking, he took it on trust that I was who I said I was, and my money wasnt fake...and was basically leaving himself legally culpable for repaying the bank, if the money turned out to be bogus. You cant really expect anyone whose just met you, to do that for you, let alone someone who is well known and/or famous
I shall never forget my Signiture next to Matt Hughes Signiture on those cheaques...it was the most sereal and yet awesome bit of brilliance in the whole Holiday
I spoke about it in my Birthday Salutations Tribute a few years later (Called What Matt Hughes Has Done For Me) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjc8FDA6G9g
The Following Year I met Matt Hughes again...this time He had come to Visit England for UFC85, and I had gone down to London to see him there. What I remember most about that time, was going with Boomer and Nathan to a secret location ( :ninja: ) in the Docklands...so secret that I got lost trying to get there :laugh: Boomer was not impressedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoSQ8HzU840 :laugh: and visiting Matt Hughes in the hotel before the weigh-ins. We had lunch in this little cafe thingy aswell, and Jacob Hey was with us...and although he wasnt sitting with us, Brandon Vera was also in the same resturant at the same time. Coz Jacob and I went over to say Hi right after.
I also remember the day of the weigh-ins...afterwards, eating in the O2 Arena on the Greenwhich Peninsular, and a number of people from the forum at that time had congregated. Thats when we heard that Thiago Alves had failed to make weight due to a bum knee. I remember that Matt Hughes sorta just shrugged it off, as if to say "well shyte happens" I think that was very mature and very calm to say he was just like hours from the fight in a foreign country...I also remember carrying all the stuff back to the hotel on the Greenwhich peninsular where Boomer and Nathan were staying...I cant for the life of me remember where Nathan was...but Boomer and I had gone along this small strip at the bottom of the peninsular, the hotel was at one end, the cinema at the other, and shops in between. We got lots of food and drink for the party afterwards...I carried most of it back...whilst I distinctly remember Boomer complaining with half as many bags about how far away it was. :laugh::laugh::laugh: The party never happened though, and I dont know what happened after that. I saw the actual fight, but never saw Matt Hughes in person after the loss to Thiago Alves...and I havent seen him in person since. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygoFulTMmhA
I did however, garner his permission the year after to be able to return to Illinois and to look at the gym he founded. He had committments in another State at the time I recall...and I think Nathan was in Chicago and I remember a phone call saying that they would try their hardest to be back in time...but to be fair, I was visiting the gym for a single day, and they were the other end of the State...it turned out to be unfeasable, but not for the want of trying.
I have to say that I do think there is a BIG difference between Matt Hughes and Mark Hughes...how much of it is a result of training in media relations I dont know. There are going to be very, very few genuine people who have a bad experience with Matt Hughes, he has a professionalism that has been picked up by hours spent infront of cameras. He's unlikely to be openly rude, even if he were to take a disliking to you. He will have no problem in putting people completely at ease. You dont feel like you are meeting some famous fighter, you feel like you are just meeting a normal person. I dont know what I was expecting, but I was quite thrown by his quite nature, unusually gentle manner, very nimble movement, and the normality. Also...how open and trusting he was with me. I was welcomed into his home, for the first time, a person he bearly knew, to a family gathering and celebration...and of course he was willing to put his reputation and financial record on the line to help me out of a fix
Mark Hughes is very different. He is increadibly genuine in quite a rough way. If Matt Hughes is smooth, then Mark Hughes is rugged. Mark will probably tell you exactly what he thinks of you, I dont think he is the type to suffer fools gladly. He's very real, and likely tells it like it is. I think that whilst Matt would share what he thinks if you ask, Mark is more likely to feel the need to present what he thinks without being asked first. There is definately a no - nonsence attitude. I once famously said that Mark Hughes was like Matt Hughes but with the Handbreak taken off :cool:
You think of one as the mighty welterweight, and one as a simple farmer...but the truth is that Mark is a real dark horse if you ask me, and equally, if not potentially greater :ninja:
great thread idea ... i have never met matt, so i have nothing to share .. but looking forward to reading others stories ..
I met Matt and many others on this forum at the "work day" at his gym. Matt was more than hospitable. He was very humble! When we were setting the mats on the wall that day, I was working right next to him and I remember thinking to myself, I'm working side by side with the UFC Welterweight Champion......kinda surreal! He took the time to talk to everyone, bought lunch for us, signed autographs, and took pictures. He was an absolute gentlemen!
I met Matt at the Arnold Classic in 2011. I was leaving the hotel with some friends to get food when I heard someone say "Hey, that's Matt Hughes". He had just arrived at the hotel. Then he saw me and asked if he could get a picture with me. I said "why not", posed for the shot and went on my way.
nice story mike ... but don't be so modest ... tell the truth, you were entering the hotel and everyone was like, "hey, there's mike everland" ... matt was the first to run up and ask for a pic and autograph ...
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