As many of you have probably heard via the world wide web, Matt Hughes’ autobiography, Made In America, was recently released. Forgetting for a moment that it shares its title with an early 90’s Whoopie Goldberg-Ted Danson movie, this book has prompted me to do some soul-searching. You see, I want to read Hughes’ book, but I don’t want to give him any money for it. It’s not because I’m cheap, either. It’s more because I don’t want Hughes to have any more of my money, especially not for a book I’d mostly be reading in order to revel in my dislike for him.
Essentially, I’d be reading it the same way I read Romo: My Life On The Edge, which is hilarious and awesome for all the wrong reasons. At least with that one I managed to wait until I could get it from the library. With Hughes’ book, I’m not sure I can wait that long to mock the man’s completely fabricated value system and overblown sense of self-importance. You see the bind I’m in.
For instance, if I could buy the book from one of the many street vendors in my Astoria, Queens neighborhood — one of the North African guys who sells a mixture of comic books, hip-hop gangster novels, and cell phone cases — and if I could be assured that the book was stolen and that Hughes would see no profit from it, I’d buy it in a second. And why? Well, just take a look at this excerpt from the very first chapter:
They say there’s a lot you can do in five minutes. You can change a tire, eat a sandwich, or choke out Frank Trigg (again). But that October 13, I wasn’t doing anything but a whole lot of crying in the five minutes between my birth and that of my twin brother, Mark. “The doctor says they’re fraternal,” Mom said, “but I think they’re exactly alike.” But just because we were alike didn’t mean that we weren’t going to be rivals. I say that everybody with any sense knows that being born is a race, which means that I won because I was first. But Mark tries to argue that it’s a test of stamina to see who can hold out the longest, so he won.
Not only does Hughes manage to work in a reference to his two submission victories over Frank Trigg into the story of him being born (which is probably the most cliched way to start an autobiography), he also espouses a belief that “everybody with any sense knows that being born is a race”. I’m asking you, after that one paragraph, how can you not want to read this book?
If you’re not sold on it already, let me offer another excerpt that’s been getting a lot of attention on the internet. In this one, Hughes is confronted by former UFC heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia for generally being a jerk to the big man:
“Tim Sylvia walked over to me during practice. His back was hunched a bit, like Pat’s is, but Pat I could look in the face.
‘Can I talk to you a second?’ he asked.
“Sure thing.” He led me into an office and we sat down on two chairs.
“No one here’s got a problem with me except you,” he began.
“When I first started, Jens would say I’m a fat piece of s*** who’s never going to amount to anything, and he’d get me crying, but now even Jens likes me. Is there a problem?”
He was waiting for me to tell him there was a big misunderstanding or to apologise, like I wasn’t aware of what I was doing.
“Yeah, I really don’t like you,” I told him.
Hughes then proceeds to tell Sylvia that he doesn’t train hard enough and isn’t a team player. Sylvia’s response to these criticisms is particularly interesting, especially when you consider that it’s Hughes who’s telling the story:
“I’m actually hurt to hear you say that. I’ve been a huge fan of yours for a long time and I’ve been trying to model myself on some of your work ethics, and the way Jens works out and stuff like that, and it’s too bad you feel like this. There’s nothing more that I want than to be accepted by you and the rest of the guys.”
“You don’t become accepted by buying yourself a ticket to Vegas, following us around while we’re there when no one really invited you, and then crying – again – when Jens calls you out on it.”
“Is there anything I can do to be friends with you?”
“Well, right now I have enough friends and I don’t need any more friends,” I said. “Is that it? Are we done here?”
He let out a deep breath. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Good.” I got up and left.
This is pure genius. Nothing sells a book like writing about a very personal encounter with one of your teammates, wherein he tells you that you’re his hero and wants to be your friend and you tell him what an asshole you think he is. I’m certainly not a Tim Sylvia fan, but even I feel bad for him after this.
The strange part is that I can’t tell whether to accept this as a faithful recounting of events, or as a blatant exaggeration by Hughes. And really, which would be worse? If he’s telling the truth, then Hughes is a jerk for putting this in his book. If he’s exaggerating, then he’s a jerk for going out of his way to make Sylvia look bad.
This excerpt is also interesting in light of Hughes’ posturing as a good, wholesome Christian man. For a guy who passes out Bibles to his TUF team, I’m starting to wonder if he’s even read it. Did I miss the parable where a sad, misguided giant comes up to Jesus and asks to be his friend and Jesus tells him to go away because he already has, like, a bunch of friends who follow him everywhere? Wasn’t Jesus’ whole deal that he loved everyone and was kind to them, even lepers and whores and what not?
Ordinarily I would not advocate comparing people to Jesus as a way of pointing out their personality flaws, but if you open that door yourself with a bunch of Bible-thumping on cable TV I have no problem walking through it.
I guess what I’m saying here is, I know I’m going to buy this book. I have to. I enjoy mocking the value systems and prose styles of others too much to stay away from it. I just want you all to know that as I read it and report back, I’m not doing it because I want to. I’m doing it because I have to.