Matt Hume is a legendary coach in the sport of mixed martial arts. He mentors top world champions such as Demetrious Johns and Bibiano Fernandes. He is the founder and head trainer at AMC Pankration in Kirkland, Washington and is a lifelong student of martial arts. Tony Reid of MyMMANews.com caught up with Hume to talk about his career.
Tony Reid – During your combat sports career you hold wins over the likes of Erik Paulson, Pat Miletich and Kenny Monday (grappling) to name a few. Which fight from your career would you want every combat sports fan to see? Which fight best represents you as a fighter?
Matt Hume – “The fights mentioned were many years ago. I have evolved into a completely different martial artist and fighter since then. The fight with Erik Paulson is usually recognized as a classic that was ahead of its time but the only true representation of the martial artist and fighter that I have become is seen in my gym and through some of my current fighters.”
Tony Reid – You aren’t a coach (or a gym) that takes on a high volume of new talent, even turning down some of the biggest names in the sport. Can you talk about the focus or importance of keeping it a close, tightly knit group at AMC?
Matt Hume – “The importance is mainly due to keeping AMC a place that we enjoy going to on a daily basis. There are all types of people and skill levels who enjoy learning, training and camaraderie with each other. In order to keep the right atmosphere and attitude in the gym I make sure not to leave the door open to people who like to call themselves “fighters” over people who call themselves friends and family.”
Tony Reid – You are a very hands on coach. I have heard stories of you hopping off a plane, jet lagged, gloving up and putting it on some of the highest level mixed martial artists in the world. Can you talk about why it’s so important to be so “hands on”?
Matt Hume – “My style is different than any other style. The fighters who share some of those stories feel they benefit from learning everything in a complete system rather than multiple coaches and disciplines. The only way I can make sure they are getting exposed to the system and technique is to work with them ‘hands on’.”
Tony Reid – Speaking of hands on, your introduction to actively competing in combat sports came at a young age. Can you share with us the story of an 11 year old Matt Hume gloving up and fighting in the back yard?
Matt Hume – “Not sure where you got that Intel but that was a regular occurrence in my backyard at that age. I would go off to boxing, wrestling, Karate, etc., but the real learning happened when we duct taped 4oz boxing gloves to our hands, strapped on the pads and figured out what really worked. We didn’t have a name, rank or instructor, in the backyard, but it was the foresight to how I would later develop as a mixed martial artist and combine all the skills.”
Tony Reid – You are known as “The Wizard” for good reason. Your knowledge of martial arts and combat sports is seemingly endless. What is the one piece of information or advice that you have that holds true in any situation?
Matt Hume – “Don’t let fear influence you, focus on what you want to achieve and don’t quit until you achieve it.”
Tony Reid – Being the man behind AMC, one of the most successful gyms on the planet and being one of the most successful and knowledgeable coaches in the sport, what is your proudest moment as a coach, cornerman or mentor?
Matt Hume – “The obvious answer is Demetrious Johnson’s last title defense KO of Benavidez and subsequent fighter of the year award. That was a proud moment and in its own category, however, when my son’s got their first stripe on their BJJ white Belts, and when kids that I have coached in wrestling achieve more than they believed they could, I have been equally proud in a different way.”
Tony Reid – Most of us have heard the recently publicized story of Dana White claiming you threatened to kick his ass during negotiations. That being said what is your relationship with Dana (and the UFC) like?
Matt Hume – “Dana and I were taking on the phone and laughing about it when it came out. It was a long time ago and spoken about without context. My relationship with Dana and the UFC is good.”
Tony Reid – What is your fondest memory of your time spent with PrideFC?
Matt Hume – “I really couldn’t say I have only one memory that is the fondest. I spent 10 years working with great people and witnessed some of the most incredible moments in MMA history first hand. Then got to spend more time with the same people at DREAM. One memory that sticks out is the Dynamite show with nearly 100,000 fans on a perfect summer night. I was walking across the stadium and heard someone yelling my name. I turned around to see the famous wrestler Bill Goldberg jogging over to tell me he was a fan. To hear that and be part of that incredible event where the next moment Helio Gracie was lighting the Olympic torch at the top of the stadium to start the show really symbolized to me just how far we had come.”
Tony Reid – You now hold the title of VP of Operations for OneFC. Can you talk about your role and responsibilities with the company?
Matt Hume – “As VP of Operations and Competition, there is really nothing that falls outside of my responsibility. I work with many great people and share expertise in every area of my experience. Matchmaking, contracts, rules and regulations, bringing together the entire experience to make it the best experience for the live fans in the arena and those watching the broadcast at home at the same time.”
Tony Reid-OneFC has signed, literally, an army of national heroes to compete under their banner. Who are a few of the fighters that fans outside of Asia may not be aware of that they should keep their eyes on in the near future?
Matt Hume – “There are so many but to name a few:
Kevin Belingon from the Philippines
Eddie Ng from Hong Kong/Singapore
Dae Hwan Kim from Korea
Ji Xian from China
Fransino Tirta from Indonesia
“There are many more but these are some of the names that come from the many areas across Asia that OneFC entertains. These fighters have been thrilling the Asian fans and becoming stars, yet not well known names to North American fans.”
Tony Reid – OneFC seems to have everything in place to grow the sport and the organization in Asia to unfathomable levels. Is that growth and scope something that is acknowledged on a regular basis?
Matt Hume – “The excitement across Asia for OneFC is only matched by our own staff. OneFC is filled with talent from the office to the cage. It is a very exciting time to see the growth, excitement and optimism from the fans and company come together, as we blow up and celebrate the growth of OneFC and mixed martial arts across Asia.”
Tony Reid – Can you talk a bit about Victor Cui and his business acumen and his leadership of the company?
Matt Hume – “Victor is a very sharp and professional businessman. He is extremely hard working and has his feet on the ground all over the globe. He is constantly making exciting new deals with major brands in marquee as well as unimaginable places. Many people are surprised when they meet him as he always has time for a smile and friendly word with everyone and at the same time, he is setting the Asian MMA world on fire with his passion.”
Tony Reid – With the signing of top ten welterweight Ben Askren, Brandon Vera and others, do you see a future where more and more fighters stateside see OneFC as a viable option?
Matt Hume – “Definitely. I am contacted daily by the who’s who of MMA. Everyone wants to be part of the exciting future of OneFC!”