Transcribed by Jeff Cain/Live Audio Wrestling
The UFC Welterweight Champion, Matt Hughes, recently appeared on Live Audio Wrestling (LAW) where he discussed his coaching role on ‘The Ultimate Fighter 2,’ the overlapping Mixed Martial Arts and pro wrestling fan-base, and voiced his opinion of ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,’ Tito Ortiz. MMAWeekly’s Jeff Cain transcribed the war or words this weekend.
Live Audio Wrestling: Matt, how are you doing?
Matt Hughes: I’m doing good. How are you doing?
LAW: Pretty good. Pretty good. Now I want to start first talking about Ultimate Fighter 2. When you were first presented with the idea of being a coach on this series, what was your initial reaction?
Hughes: I was not interested. I was not interested at all. I didn’t want to be away from my farm for seven weeks. I didn’t want to be away from my wife for seven weeks, so I didn’t like the idea. And then my wife ended up talking me in to it. She thought it would be good for my career. She loves to come to Vegas, so she came out for the last half of the taping.
LAW: After going through that experience and actually seeing the finished product, are you happy with the way you’re being portrayed?
Hughes: Not really. There’s a lot of things that aren’t really correct, but I can live with it. I’m not worried about it. I was very strict with my guys. I was there to do a job, to make sure these guys are ready to go in the UFC. And I wanted to teach them how to train, how to get their mind prepared, how to get their body ready. There’s a lot that goes into fighting. I did what I had to do, and I think if you go back and interview all my guys that I had on my team they wouldn’t change a thing.
LAW: You mention that there were a few things that weren’t correct. What did you mean by that?
Hughes: Well, like one time they showed me playing some cards when Jason Von Flue fought, and actually I was playing cards way before his fight. I wasn’t playing cards after the fight like they showed.
LAW: I wanted to ask you about that right away; the Jason Von Flue situation itself. I mean there’s a guy that was thrown onto your team that you kind of threw into the fight verses Jorge [Gurgel], and the way that they cut it anyway, it didn’t seem that you thought that he had a chance against Jorge. Then he proved you wrong, and then the shot of the cards. What was your actual reaction when Jason came back to the dressing room after winning that fight?
Hughes: You know I don’t remember. Somewhat the same as everybody else. I knew that Jason could win that fight. The one thing I told Jason is Jorge is going to start strong and he’s going to taper off after that, so be prepared to give up the first round. Jason has a lot of heart. That’s nothing I showed him right there. He would have done that anyway, but I just said be prepared to lose the first round and win the second two, and that’s exactly what happened. The one thing Jason did was every time I said something to him, or one of the guys in the corner said something to him, he did it. He was the best guy to listen to what I was saying or somebody else in the corner, so that was amazing. Nobody else on the team listened as good as Jason did out in the octagon.
LAW: You are definitely the heel character. You’re a standout character on the show, I find, because you’re playing the heel. How much of that is actually Matt Hughes? How much of that is a character? And how much of that is a Spike TV construction now that we’re talking about this?
Hughes: Well everything [laughs], everything that you see, I did. I mean whether I said or whether I did it, I did it. But Rich and I are good friends, and we get along great. We had a lot of fun with each other. I mean we teased each other the whole time. If he was walking in the gym and I was walking out, we teased each other. They’re only showing me kind of teasing Rich. And Jorge, I’ve known Jorge for a long time too. If I like somebody, I’ll tease them. If I don’t like somebody, I don’t talk to them a bit. So I like Jorge, so I teased him. I teased him all the time. I tried to get under his skin as much as I can.
LAW: Now on November 19th, Rich is facing Nate Quarry. Your thoughts on that fight, who’s your pick?
Hughes: They both have got great stand up. I think, you know, Nate hits real hard. And Rich took a hit from Evan Tanner and went down in the first round. I think Rich has a lot more skill than Nate does, but Nate’s got a punching chance of winning. You know, he’s got a boxer’s chance to win it. Nate hits hard, and he could maybe hurt Rich on his feet.
LAW: Let me throw a couple of names at you then, for instance BJ Penn. You lost to him in January of 2004. Would you be interested in fighting BJ?
Hughes: That’s not up to me. I fight whoever the UFC puts in front of me. I’ve never said no to the UFC ever. I don’t think that fight will ever happen because BJ and Dana [White] hate each other with the lawsuit right now. I don’t ever plan on facing BJ Penn again because I don’t think he’ll ever get a shot in the UFC again.
LAW: It’s interesting. You gave me a response there of that you’re willing to fight whoever the UFC puts in front of you, which a lot of fighters will say. Coming out of working on The Ultimate Fighter itself and developing that character, do you see an advantage to fighters going out there and cutting promos and perhaps calling out other fighters in order to gain some sort of momentum going into a fight or create more of a character?
Hughes: Sure. Diego Sanchez seems to call me out after every victory. It does create a little bit of hype for a fighter to call somebody out, but it doesn’t improve their performance out in the octagon. It’s whatever the UFC thinks. If they think its a match people want to see, they’ll possibly put it together.
LAW: One of the hot debates going on now with the UFC and with the WWE leaving Spike TV to go over to the USA Network, UFC is kind of falling into that spot where the WWE was and perhaps chasing that fan-base. Fighters are split on whether WWE fans and UFC fans are the same people. In your opinion, do you think they are the same people?
Hughes: Well I can tell you the WWE is nothing but a male soap opera, but I tell you, I used to watch it all the time. I used to love it. You have to look at it as it’s not a sport. It’s just pure entertainment, and I like the WWE. I would lean on the side as yes. The UFC fans and WWE fans could be the same people.
LAW: Do you think the UFC is kind of shading toward that direction by doing something like Ultimate Fighter, which is creating characters for the performers there in order for fans to be able to watch them after the reality show finishes and already know about the characters?
Hughes: I don’t think they’re following the WWE whatsoever. What the UFC is doing, which is very smart, is creating characters that are in the public eye. You watch the reality show and you’re going to tune into a pay-per-view to watch these guys fight down the road. I don’t know that they’re following the WWE whatsoever. I would not agree with that.
LAW: OK. We’re talking about personalities. I’ve got to ask you about one guy who’s very much in the public eye, one of the most out there characters the UFC has every had, and that’s Tito Ortiz, currently not speaking to the UFC because he and Dana aren’t seeing eye to eye. Do you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing that Tito is not in the UFC after all the hype he created?
Hughes: Well, Tito didn’t create any hype. The UFC created Tito. Tito didn’t make the UFC whatsoever. The UFC has not changed one bit from not having Tito in their organization. Basically my response is Tito who? Wondering why you asked that question because I don’t think anybody ever worries about Tito anymore. He was a paper champion. He never fought really anybody tough, and when he did he got beat. The UFC made a poster boy. That was Tito, and then Tito thought he was somebody special. And then he got beat, and now he’s out. That’s the way I look at it.
LAW: Having said that, though, he’s someone that fans do want to see. He called out Liddell, and he called out Shamrock after his last fight and those are two fights that fans would pay for and would buy pay-per-views for. It seems like, yea, Tito did, he may have thought he was better than he was, but by Dana not speaking to him now and not even negotiating with him, that’s possibly hurting buy-rates down the road for the UFC.
Hughes: I get on the Underground Forum a lot. I never post, but I watch it, and I don’t think I’ve really seen a thread that people are wanting Tito back. I don’t know if I’d agree with that or not. I’ve never had anybody come up to me and say, hey can we get Tito back in the UFC? The UFC has moved way beyond Tito Ortiz right now, so I don’t think they’re worried about getting Tito back. And to be honest, I didn’t know Tito was wanting to come back. I don’t know that people are wanting to see Tito back, so I don’t think Tito will come back to the UFC. No.”
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