‘Country Boy Can Survive: The Story of Matt Hughes’ Review


Despite the differences we see in this world, one thing seems to unite people, and that’s an inspirational story of a man/woman overcoming insurmountable odds. It’s what made Rocky one of the biggest film franchises in history. Everyone loves an underdog. The new UFC Fight Pass documentary Country Boy Can Survive gives us another Rocky-like story, except this one’s real!

Matt Hughes was not just a mixed martial arts champion; he was once the standard bearer for all UFC champions. He defended the welterweight championship on seven different occasions, and during that time he also demonstrated some superhuman-like strength that blew the minds of fans and fellow fighters. And this is the reason why it’s so surreal to see the former champions’ condition today.

In one part of Country Boy Can Survive, Hughes stops to ask “Am I speaking okay?” It perfectly highlights the type of battles the UFC Hall of Famer has to face on a day to day basis due to the accident last year. While riding his tractor in June of 2017, he was hit by a train which led to many fearing the end for Matt Hughes.

Rory Karpf directs this new documentary detailing the legends recovery from this near-fatal accident. Wrestling fans might know the filmmaker for his critically acclaimed ESPN 30 for 30 on Ric Flair, whereas MMA fans will know him for the mini-documentary series on CM Punk before UFC 203. One of the best parts of Rory’s films is he gives you everything you expect and a host of stories you do not expect. He shows audiences a side of these stars they have never seen before.

A Different Side to Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes’s road to recovery is a phenomenal story, but this documentary is so much more than that. Anyone who has followed the former UFC welterweight champion’s career knows that while he gave us some memorable performances, he could be rather obnoxious. This is not only touched upon in the film but is brought to life by his wife who said that his fighting career changed him and it hurt his relationship with his family.

His wife’s honesty is almost as shocking as the images of a helpless, unconscious Matt Hughes lying in a hospital bed. The transformation from “the most dominant welterweight champion” to a man that cannot even utter his children’s names is heartbreaking, and it’s as powerful a moment you will find in any film.

The footage of him learning how to walk again and the information we get on his recovery is nothing short of inspiring, as is Hughes’s new perspective on life. It’s an epic tale of beating the odds, and a man finding the true meaning of life. It does not matter if you are a fight fan or not. This film will leave you with that lump in your throat.

One might complain about the lack of details about the accident, but unfortunately, the former UFC champion does not remember anything about it. Also, a film like this leaves you wanting more because it is that gripping. So perhaps it would have been nice to get an hour out of this one.

A Master of his Craft

In the end, even it is only eighteen minutes long; Rory Karpf delivers what I can honestly say is the greatest UFC film. Country Boy Can Survive goes beyond being a story about a fighter. It’s about life, and never giving up. Calling anyone the greatest filmmaker is a big statement, but if there is an award or a title of best sports filmmaker, it belongs to Rory Karpf.