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Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes was born on October 13th, 1973 in Hillsboro, Illinois. Matt and his twin brother Mark were both avid wrestlers during their junior high and high school years and both have gone on to compete in the UFC. Matt continued his varsity career as a wrestler when he attended East Illinois University before going on to train with Miletich Fighting Systems alongside heavy hitters such as Tim Sylvia and Pat Miletich.

After a short but grueling training period Matt entered the UFC, winning his first Welterweight title at UFC 34: High Voltage. He won this fight by lifting his opponent, Carlos Newton, over his head while locked in a triangle choke, smashing him violently to the mat and knocking him out cold. Matt defended his title over and over against Hayato Sakurai, Carlos Newton (the pair had a rematch), Gil Castillo, Sean "The Shark" Sherk, and Frank Trigg. Hughes was finally defeated in a title match against B.J. Penn, who submitted him with a rear naked choke. A subsequent win over challenger Georges St. Pierre at UFC 50 allowed Hughes to regain the vacant title.

Matt went on to defeat challenger Frank Trigg in a rematch and title bout. After Trigg capitalized on Hughes lack of attention in the first round he nearly defeated the champion. Hughes overcame and eventually took the fight to the ground, breaking out of Trigg’s choke hold and flipping him over to expose his front, opening several cuts with his elbows. The victory was secured with a rear naked choke, leaving Hughes with the title. The title's next defense was to come against Karo Parisyan at UFC 56 but Parisyan dropped out due to a hamstring injury. Heavyweight Joe Riggs was given a shot at the title but, after he failed to meet the 170 lb weight limit, the bout lost its title status. Hughes easily defeated Riggs in the first round by submission.

One of Hughes' most storied fights was another title defense against famed fighter Royce Gracie. After originally trying to end the fight with a brutal arm bar, Hughes was forced to ground-and-pound his way to victory when Gracie simply refused to submit. Hughes' later said in an interview that he released the arm bar for fear that he would break the bone before Gracie would submit. This win gave Hughes superstar status and he seemed impossible to beat.

Hughes agreed to a rematch with B.J. Penn in September of 2006 and defeated him in the third round, once again successively retaining his title. Canadian fighter Georges St. Pierre, who was originally supposed to face Hughes that night, came into the ring following the bout and told Hughes "I was not impressed by your performance." This bad blood continued from Hughes' negative comments about St. Pierre on-camera during the taping of The Ultimate Fighter 4.

St. Pierre finally had his second shot at Hughes at UFC 65: Bad Intentions and he took advantage. After throwing two disputed kicks towards the groin area of Matt Hughes, Georges St. Pierre landed a superman punch at the bell to finish the first round. He continued his pummeling in the second round and Hughes finally had his title taken from him after losing by TKO in round two.

Hughes returned to the octagon on March 3rd, 2007 at UFC 68: Uprising. His defeat of Chris Lytle by unanimous decision caused UFC CEO Dana White to announce that, with Matt Serra having defeated Georges St. Pierre at UFC 69, Hughes would receive another shot at the title later in 2007.
 

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