It’s recently been confirmed that former UFC Welterweight Champion and UFC Hall of Fame member Matt Hughes will most likely not be retiring. Naturally, this is a hot topic amongst the MMA fanbase. Can Hughes still go, especially considering his recent pummeling at the hands of BJ Penn? What type of future does Hughes have in a division that should have passed him by already, if not for his impressive ability to adapt to the times? Here’s my thoughts on what I think the future holds for Matt Hughes.
It wasn’t too long ago that I was predicting that Hughes would be able to win the UFC Welterweight Championship again, and I still stand by making that prediction when I did. Hughes was on a very impressive win-streak and his new attitude seemed to be breathing new life into his already-fabled career. Hughes had and continues to have the mentality of fighting just because he can. With nothing left to prove and his legacy intact, Hughes can begin experimenting with new things and trying out new opponents simply to see if his body can still hold up.
And I think it can, which is why I think Hughes isn’t done in the UFC.
Hughes has always had a mental advantage over most of his opponents, whether it’s his intense drive to be a champion or his new mentality of taking things as they come. His body has held up remarkably well despite its age and despite the style Hughes uses, which necessitates super-intense training.
I think Matt Hughes simply got caught by BJ Penn, which is something that has happened to a lot of people. No champion has been immune to an outright embarrassing performance; every champion faces a stumbling block. BJ Penn has always had Matt’s number, you could argue that the only reason their rivalry was tied at one apiece is due to the fact that during their second fight Penn broke a rib when going for a sweep (a sweep which he got, by the way). If a fighter fights long enough at a high enough level, eventually they’ll simply run into somebody that’s their kryptonite.
It’s not like Matt Hughes hasn’t overcame adversity before, he’s had to endure some tough losses and he’s had to more or less completely start over more than once in his career. Whether it was Georges St. Pierre or Thiago Alves or anyone else, Hughes always found a way to survive and then later thrive after a deflating loss.
So what’s left for Matt Hughes? Quite a lot, if only he has the determination to grasp it. Hughes is already a legend, and I and many other people enjoy watching him compete in the Octagon. So long as Hughes wishes to compete, I believe the UFC will always be his home. Love them or hate them, but the UFC usually has an excellent track record of treating its legends fairly. There will always be new and emerging talent for Hughes to test himself against, and if he one day retires? He’ll certainly be remembered as one of the best of all time. I just hope that day doesn’t come quit so soon.
And what do you think, fans and friends? What’s your opinion on the future for Matt Hughes?