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
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
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"
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 (
) in the Docklands...so secret that I got lost trying to get there
Boomer was not impressedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoSQ8HzU840
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.
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
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