Welterweight Matt Hughes (41-7) signed a four-fight deal that sources inside Hughes’s camp tell Fighters.com Hughes expects to lead him into retirement.
Hughes won a unanimous decision over “Terror” Matt Serra (9-6) three months ago and White announced in a pre-UFC 102 presser that Hughes won’t return for at least another three months. Hughes was on hiatus for nearly an entire year before his UD over Serra.
That’s the schedule Fighters.com’s sources say Hughes expects winding down his career: no more than two fights per year.
But, Hughes refuses to be cast as stepping-stone for 170-pound potential, nor does he expect to compete at the top of the division any longer. Hughes wants competitive fights versus established names.
However, after Serra called for a rematch at MMA Weekly last month, Hughes confidant Brian Patton told Fighters.com, “[Hughes] already beat [Serra]. What does fighting him again gain Hughes? I would not think that fighting [Serra] is in [Hughes’s] plans.”
The established name most interesting to Hughes is recently UFC-signed “Superman” Dennis Hallman (41-12-1). Hallman has two stoppages over Hughes in 37 seconds of fighting, a 17-second guillotine chokeout at Extreme Challenge 21 in Wisconsin in 1998 and a 20-second armbar submission at UFC 29 in Tokyo in 2000.
Old scores among warriors aren’t settled with time, they’re settled in the cage. And, the matchup meets Hughes’s requirements and has street cred’ among the MMA core.
Hallman’s agent, Ken Pavia, told Fighters.com Tuesday, “It has been discussed. Seems inevitable that the matchup will happen again.”
Another acceptable matchup for Hughes is another Pavia’managed recent UFC returnee: “New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni (13-11), but Fighters.com speculates Serra is more likely to draw Baroni in a cross-Long Island affair while Hughes takes a shot a settling his score with Hallman.
However, the wild card is Hughes’s drawing power. Hughes could be asked by White to step-in to strengthen a card at any time and, as he did versus “Pitbull” Thiago Alves (16-4) at UFC 85 in London in June 2008, loyal Hughes will oblige whether or not it’s in his own interests or according to his plans.
None of these matchups have been confirmed by the UFC.