Two time welterweight champion, NCAA division 1 wrestler, UFC hall of fame inductee, holding the most wins inside the UFC (18), Matt Hughes goes into UFC 135 this Saturday night in what could very well be his last match. Since his victory over former rival Matt Serra, the question has loomed – how many fights were left in him?
He answered triumphant with a TKO victory over Renzo Gracie, then a submission win against Ricardo Almeida (Renzo Gracie black belt) before being knocked out in less than thirty seconds by BJ Penn.
Walking into the octagon in Denver will be a farewell or comeback for the most dominant welterweight champion in UFC history. Recording wins over opponents like: Georges St Pierre, Royce Gracie, BJ Penn, Sean Shark and many others – the Illinois native is no stranger to a younger and talented opponent looking to upset his run. Josh Koscheck is a younger, stronger and decorated wrestler but with better hands that could see Hughes have the lights turned out again if he is not careful.
Twenty of his career wins have come by submission for Hughes, he is the better man in the ground game and is wise to try to tap his opponent out instead of trading strikes with the Fresno fighter. One factor that could interrupt rhythm for either man is ring rust: Hughes has been out since his Nov 2010 loss to Penn; Koscheck is fighting for the first time since losing in a championship match last December.
At the end of the night, the better man will be declared winner. What can be said though is, in spite of his outcome, Matt Hughes has been a pioneer and true ambassador for MMA. Regardless of your opinion or pre-conceived notion of his beliefs and opinions, his work ethic and talent cannot be ignored and are still something all fighters should learn from in their quest for greatness.
In a situation where the Militech Fighting Systems student is victorious, how much of a run is left in him? Although he can still hang with younger competition, does anyone want to see GSP-Hughes 4 if it came to it? Be smart and leave on a positive and go out in a moment of glory a la Chris Lytle. We thank you for the memories and battles Matt, thank you for one more round.
Get more great MMA news, recaps and analysis over at MMA Valor.