Time for Hughes to call it a career

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6/8/08 12:44:18AM

LONDON – After Georges St. Pierre thrashed him about like he was a beginner and then submitted him at UFC 79, Matt Hughes admitted that thoughts of retirement had crossed his mind.

At the post-fight news conference in Las Vegas that night, Hughes vowed that he would retire before he’d become anyone’s highlight reel.

But on Saturday, in the main event of UFC 85 at the O2 Arena, Hughes became someone’s highlight reel yet again.

This time, Hughes became a notch on the belt of Thiago Alves, who knocked Hughes out with a perfect left knee in the second round.


As good as the up-and-coming Alves looked – and he looked plenty good – it was difficult not to wonder whether he’d have been nearly as successful a few years earlier.

Time, and the changing face of mixed martial arts, has clearly caught up to Hughes. He’s had two reigns as UFC’s welterweight champion, has won nine title fights and had an amazing run of 19 wins in 20 fights, which included victories over luminaries such as B.J. Penn, St. Pierre and Royce Gracie.

He’s been a classy representative of the sport, which made watching him get thrashed about like a sparring partner Saturday all the more difficult to take. He clearly wants a fight with his bitter rival, Matt Serra, a fight UFC president Dana White said he’d make if Hughes wants it.

And while there was a time when most mixed martial arts experts thought Hughes would steamroll Serra, that time is long past. Hughes has now lost three of his last four and has been dominated in each of the losses.

Though the bad blood between the two, and Serra’s ability to chatter, would help sell the fight, it would be another of the WWE-type promotions that the sport is better off without. The UFC appeared to leave that behind when it was done with the Ken Shamrock-Tito Ortiz trilogy, and it has no need to go back to such events. The athletes are too good and the sport has evolved too much for it to rely on “feuds” to sell tickets.

And given that there has to be considered at least a decent possibility that Serra could win the fight, White needs to consider the fact that he wouldn’t be doing Hughes any favors by letting him get into the cage and get beaten up again. Certainly, he doesn’t need to be in with young, strong and athletic men like St. Pierre and Alves any more.

Hughes was asked how he felt seeing such superb athletes like St. Pierre and Alves develop into stars and he didn’t mince any words.

“I don’t like it,” Hughes said, drawing chuckles from the crowd. “Ask me again and I’ll say it a thousand times. I don’t like it.”

Five years ago, he would have been drooling for such competition and he would have overpowered it on most nights.

But while the 34-year-old Hughes said he felt good even as he walked to the cage, he lacks the quick, explosive shot that he had as a younger man. Hughes went for a shot early, but Alves easily saw it coming and stuffed it.

Hughes was handled by Alves much like Ortiz was handled by Lyoto Machida two weeks earlier at UFC 84. At an impromptu question-and-answer session with a handful of reporters after Friday’s weigh-in, White was talking about how Ortiz didn’t land a punch or a kick and didn’t get a takedown against Machida.

Hughes wasn’t much better against Alves. And that bout was essentially played out the way the St. Pierre fight was in December.

For his part, Alves is moving close to a shot at the welterweight title, though he has to prove he can make the 170-pound weight limit.

He needed a diuretic to help him in a 2006 fight, which cost him an eight-month suspension imposed by the Nevada Athletic Commission. He barely made weight for his November win over Chris Lytle, needing to strip naked to hit 171. Alves said he sprained his right ankle about 10 days ago, which prevented him from working out for three days. That, Alves said, resulted in him weighing four pounds over the 170-pound limit at Friday’s weigh-in.

An engaging sort who once had a job as a dance escort for women in South Florida, Alves said all the right things at the post-fight news conference. He said he has long been a fan of mixed martial arts and especially enjoyed watching Hughes.

“This means everything to me,” he said of a win over Hughes. “I remember watching Matt Hughes slamming people through the floor. I’m really, really happy.”

The problem that White must wrestle with now is that pretty much everyone beats him. And while the fighter almost always believes he has one more bout left – and Hughes desperately wants to tear into Serra to settle their long-standing differences – there comes a time when the fighter needs to be protected from himself.

That time has come for Hughes, and White needs to forget the money a potential Hughes-Serra bout may generate and do what is best for the man.

That means telling him no more fights.

In the ring, Hughes said he still wanted the Serra fight, but he wouldn’t flatly demand it at the post-fight news conference.

“Any questions about my future, I think those are best directed toward Dana,” Hughes said. “Ask him.”

White said he would “absolutely” make that fight. But to say that ignores what unfolded in front of him not only on Saturday, but on Dec. 29 as well as Nov. 18, 2006.

There’s no reason for Hughes to press forward. He’s a surefire Hall of Famer and, most importantly, he still has his health and his faculties.

He needs to walk away and let the great young fighters in the business try to equal his records.

The time has come for Matt Hughes to retire.

6/8/08 12:48:02AM
i say they give him one last fight. then induct him into hall of fame. win or lose
6/8/08 12:50:24AM
I kinda dont really like this kevin guy from yahoo sports.

I mean sure UFC doesnt want hughes to go out looking bad with these losses, but Hughes is a fighter, let him fight thats what he does. If he wants to fight he should be able too, like against Alves and like he should be able to fight serra.

Hughes is going to go in the hall of fame, he has made his mark on the sport and in WW division by just pure dominating, how can you not let him fight serra? telling him to call it a career. that's BS

when you got ken shamrock who is in ufc hall of fame, and when was the last time he won a fight?
6/8/08 12:50:54AM
He will most likely retire after the Serra fight. Win lose or draw, i see him retiring that fight.
6/8/08 12:56:32AM
It’s just like any great sports figure. If you like them or not, it still sucks to see them go out on a loss. So what do you do? The fighter I am sure feels the same. Hughes wants to go out on a win. But it really doesn’t look like its going to happen.

Aside from that, you saw when he was a coach on TUF. I don’t think he wants to fight anymore. He had his mind made up then he was going to retire soon.
6/8/08 1:16:16AM

Posted by GrizzlyChadams

He will most likely retire after the Serra fight. Win lose or draw, i see him retiring that fight.

6/8/08 2:22:54AM
I belive thats the last fight on his contract so it sounds right for him to retire, but he will go out on a win cuz he will take serra out.
6/8/08 2:22:59AM
I definatly think he should fight Serra before he retires, and I think he will beat Serra.
6/8/08 7:55:19AM
The fight last night proved nothing! Hughes is a big WW for sure but he made wight. Alves is huge for a WW an would be pretty big for a MW. Last night you could see the difference in wight and strength. It was pretty much a WW Vs MW and Hughes has heart for getting in there and fighting!
Still wished I had switched my pick though!
6/8/08 7:59:28AM
I believe that if Hughes had beaten GSP in their 2nd fight he would have retired that night.

Hughes has been contimplating retirement for about 2 years now, Serra is the last fight for him. This will be his victory lap.
6/8/08 8:20:22AM
I do agree with hughes needing to retire; at the same time though... having to not cut for a fight gives you that much more energy and strength. Anyone that has cut weight before knows what I mean. I really REALLY think that helped Alves a ton. Not saying the guy isn't capable of beating matt, nor am I making excuses just pointing that out.
6/8/08 8:50:00AM
you could see that hughes didn't have the fire in his eyes when walking out last night and it showed in the fight it looked like he was going through the motions. whatever he decides to do the guy is a legend and hats off to him he has done so much for the sport i wish him all the best. however if he does fight serra i believe it will be for one last pay day. can't blame him for that though
6/8/08 9:37:37AM
let him fight serra then retire him
6/8/08 10:33:09AM
wow that's a pretty arrogant know-it-all article if I've ever seen one. Who the hell is this guy to tell Matt Hughes what is best for Matt Hughes? This guy is acting like he's Matt's mommy and he knows what's best for a full grown man that he has never spent any amount of time with and knows absolutely nothing about other than what he sees in interviews and press conferences. But I guess it's his place to tell one of the greatest champions of all time what is best for him and who he should and shouldn't fight. This guy acts like Hughes is just a terrible wash-up because he got dominated by GSP. Guess what? So did every single other person that GSP has fought other than maybe BJ.

Reading this article honestly made me angry. This guy was a legend before 90% of current fans even knew the UFC existed. If he wants to settle a long-standing grudge in the ring before he bows out after a legendary career, fat idiots like this guy need to shut their f***ing mouths and show some goddamn respect for someone who has accomplished a whole hell of a lot for this sport and helped to bring it into the mainstream when everyone was calling it human cockfighting. Seriously imagine how completely disgusted you would be if you dedicated your life to pursuing something, you achieved the ultimate pinnacle in the field you dedicated yourself to, and at the end of a long prosperous career you want to have one last fight to settle a score and some fat idiot armchair warrior you've never even met before tells you "sorry, I know what's best for you and you don't get to have this fight!"

I'm not even a Hughes fan. I find his fights a little boring, but I still realize that what he has accomplished is amazing and he deserves a hell of a lot more respect than this idiot is giving him. Seriously what kind of nerve do you have to have to tell a full grown man, a world champion, and a living legend that you know what's best for him better than he does?

I would slap this guy in the mouth if I met him in person. Disrespectful little monkey.
6/8/08 11:58:44AM
i bet money and my points on him cause i believe in him still even though i knew that alves might rock him

i can't make bets like that again
it's his time to leave, give him serra for dec then let him retire
alves destroyed him just like gsp
no question on my mind kos would do the same even fitch
it was sad to watch him get beat up last night, even lousier knowing i probably will bet on him to lose from now on
6/8/08 11:59:36AM
Huges is an MMA icon let him fight Serra and any one else he wants to he'll do whats right. He's got a new gym and lots of other stuff goin on I think he knows another run for any belt is totally out of the question, so let him get the Serra thing outta the way he deserves that much.
6/8/08 12:19:17PM
I'm glad nobody on this thread has made any excuses for Matt, like "oh if Thiago would have made weight" or "if Matt wasnt washed up"

Even in defeat you got to give it up for Matt for taking this on short notice against a potential champion. Its my opinion they will overlook the weight issue as an injury related failed weight cut as Thiago stated he couldnt train properly leading up to the fight because of that taped ankle, and give Thiago the next title shot, its just my humble opinion that he will be champion by the end of '08 early '09
6/8/08 10:35:44PM
I am a Matt Hughes fan. He is a true champion and did a lot for this sport. I thought that nobody was giving him any credit going into this fight with Alves, and saying he could not beat him. Maybe I was blind thinking Hughes would beat him and move on. Alves clearly showed that he is better than Hughes, and that the fight game has moved on past him. With that being said. How does Hughes vs Serra fight go. Before, I would say Hughes would beat Serra very easy. Is this matchup closer now? Does Serra pose a bigger threat to Hughes? I do hope Matt beats Serra, and retires with some satisfaction of beating a guy who disrespected him time and time again. I know Hughes is a cocky jock. He does deserve some respect and is the greatest WW champion in UFC history.
6/9/08 1:04:46AM
this sport is about respect and honour above all else. To deny Hughes the chance to defend that honour after all that he's accomplished is borderline criminal.
6/9/08 12:35:25PM
I think Hughes should fight Serra then retire

does anyone know his relationship with MFS after the whole book thing
he really needs to go back to MFS and train for Serra

I dont think he is getting the proper training for himself while trying to train the guys at HIT

6/9/08 1:01:26PM

Posted by GrizzlyChadams

He will most likely retire after the Serra fight. Win lose or draw, i see him retiring that fight.

6/9/08 1:05:40PM

Posted by 89vision

I'm glad nobody on this thread has made any excuses for Matt, like "oh if Thiago would have made weight" or "if Matt wasnt washed up"

Even in defeat you got to give it up for Matt for taking this on short notice against a potential champion. Its my opinion they will overlook the weight issue as an injury related failed weight cut as Thiago stated he couldnt train properly leading up to the fight because of that taped ankle, and give Thiago the next title shot, its just my humble opinion that he will be champion by the end of '08 early '09

So that means you think Alves will beat GSP for the title?

I don't think he is ready for GSP just yet.

Fair play to Hughes, he has done a lot during his career. Give him Serra then say goodbye to both of them whatever the outcome.
6/9/08 4:54:13PM
WEll withere is talk of Shamrock/ Gracie.. what about moving matt into a group with guys like that.. good fighters just a tad past thier prime but are still capable of fighting?

As for Matts last fight.. I was hoping he would pull it out... I picked him after all.. I was hoping he would come out guns blazing to get the fight he wants then retire.. I still think they should give him Serra.. I think both fighters want it.. and I know it would be great for the fans..
6/9/08 4:58:44PM
After he fights Serra I think he should call it quits, and the UFC induct him into the Hall of Fame.
6/9/08 7:33:02PM
I don't think this will be his last fight. There is still a lot of bad blood between Hughes and Serra . A lot of people I think still want to see this fight. However with what just happened on Saturday I'm not sure if this would happen for awhile.
6/9/08 8:23:47PM
I remember reading this article on yahoo and just being upset as hell. Kevin Lole seems like another boxing writer that had to switch over to mma after the craze to make sure he can pay his bills. He might know a lot about mma, but it doens't come across in his writing.

That being said when a great starts losing it's time to retire. Sure he could beat 90% of the WW division still (i firmly believe that), but that's not what a great does. It's just not what 'greats' do. They fight champs and championship contenders. They don't use their name to fight scrubs and draw paychecks. Their own pride should prevent them from doing so. If Matt Hughes no longer can compete for the title (and i think we'll all agree he no longer can), he should fight Serra, win and humbly bow out as the greatest WW to date.
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